Book review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Have you ever been in a situation when you don’t know what to read and then randomly find a book and it is exactly what you have been craving but you just didn’t know that? Well, this is what I felt when I started reading “Peter Darling” by Austin Chant, after seeing it being recommended by Cece at ProblemsofABookNerd. I still mentally salivate when I think about it.

I did not read the synopsis of the book before reading it, and I encourage you to do the same. Not because it is really spoilery (it is but there is just no other way to summarize the books, I guess), but because it does not reflect the dark and surreal feeling that this book inspires. To put it shortly, it is an adult fantasy novel, a sequel to Peter Pan, which features a transgender main character. That’s all you need to know. Go and read it now!

It takes place 10 years after the events of “Peter Pan”. Peter Pan has grown up, but his life has not been easy with Darlings. His father keeps calling him Wendy and his brothers think he invented Peter Pan. Peter feels the pull to return to Neverland, and this time for ever. Once he is back, he has to face his old adversary, Captain Hook. Ten years is a long time, and Peter is not a boy anymore, and it is not only hatred that he feels towards Hook.

I love reading books by indie authors, however, I rarely stumble upon real gems, and this book is definitely one of them. The book is well written with the right amount of angst and action. And I am a big sucker for angst. Peter struggles to be true to himself while managing his relationship with his brothers and parents, who see him only as Wendy. It is striking and moving, and I couldn't help but root for Peter.

Peter, when he returns to Neverland, and Lost Boys are brutal and more savage, which reminded me of “Lord of the flies” in some ways. There is a certain twist in the novel, which I freaking loved, and wish I could rant about it in my review, but it is a big spoiler.

Relationship between Peter and Hook is very believable, and I appreciate the fact that it did not happen out of blue or developed at a warp speed. For those who are concerned with the age difference, remember that Peter is of legal age in this story.

I really, really liked this book. I wish I had a physical copy, but it is definitely joining my favourites collection on my Kindle. I liked this book so much that I immediately went on twitter to tweet at the author and ask if he plans to do more fairy tales retellings/sequels because this one was awesome.

So, if you like queer stories and retellings peppered with angst, go and read it!

Personal rating: 4 stars

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Book Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer (audiobook)


A year ago when several lucky booktubers were hauling an advanced reader’s copy of “Heartless”, a new stand alone novel by Marissa Meyer, I was feeling rather jealous. The ARC looked stunning and the final version was beautiful too. I had not read a single book by the author, but I was extremely interested in reading “Heartless”.


“Heartless” is a retelling of a story about Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Catherine might be a daughter of marques, but her dream is to become a baker and open her bakery. Her mother, however, dreams of her daughter to be wed to the King of Hearts. Catherine is struggling to find the balance between her parents’ wishes and her own dreams, until one day she meets Jest, a royal joker, and she is immediately attracted to him. But nothing is what it seems, and their secret courtship is overshadowed not only by the impending marriage to the king, but also the attacks by hideous and murderous monster named Jabberwock.


In spite of a great premise, I felt disappointed by the book. I read the first 100 pages and then got stuck, not because I hated the writing or was completely not interested in the plot, but rather because the story felt too slow-paced and too reflective for my taste. I felt almost bored when I was reading it, that is why I found myself picking up the book less and less, until I put it aside for a month or two. Frustrated, I decided to switch to an audiobook version, especially since I found out that it was narrated by Rebecca Soler, who voiced Nimona, and whom I rather liked.


So, I switched to an audiobook, started from the very beginning, and found that, although it was much easier to get through “Heartless” while colouring or doing something else, I was still getting annoyed by the fact that almost nothing was happening. Cath seemed too weak-willed to turn into a real Queen of Hearts. Her shiness and modesty didn’t match with the image of the queen yelling “Off with their heads!”. Jest was intriguing enough, but too good to be true, and I kept waiting for a big dirty secret to be revealed about his past and, unfortunately, was let down. I found some of the secondary characters more interesting than Cath herself.


However, no matter how many problems I had with the action and plot, I found the world wonderfully written. Marissa Meyer did an amazing job intertwining all the elements from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass world together into something that was very fascinating on its own. I would have loved another book set in this world, but not related to “Hearltess” in the plot.


Although Rebecca Soler does a great job voicing different characters, I found her British accent quite annoying and unnecessary. Her Cheshire and Hatter sounded too similar at times. Her King was extremely annoying (purposefully, I assume). Jest was lovely, but I could barely stand Cath or her friend Mary-Ann (not sure if it was because Rebecca is so good of a narrator of it is because I just disliked the characters).


I think the downfall of Heartless for me lies in the predictability of the ending. I mean, we all know what kind of character Queen of Hearts was in Lewis Carroll’s books, so it was never about the ending, but rather about the journey to that ending. ‘The journey’ failed to deliver and ‘the ending’ was just as expected, which turned this book, to my surprise, into a three star read.


I enjoyed the book, I liked the world and some characters a lot. I think that it was very well written. But the plot line made me want to grab the book and shake it until everything gets mixed inside and all the puzzle pieces finally fall into right places. I am still on the fence about how I feel about the book. I liked it, but I might have overhyped it to myself (I wanted to be so badly swept off my feet by it!), so it turned out to be a letdown. It is in no way as bad as some other retellings - it is well written! But it could have been so much better!


Therefore, I am splitting the ratings as follows, as I am not able to give just one rating to this book:


Plot: 3 stars

World/characters: 4.5 stars

Narration: 4 stars


Overall: 3.5 stars


If the author ever decides to write another book in this universe, that would have a completely original plot, I would totally down for it. Otherwise, I am glad that I only spent an Audible credit for an audiobook and didn’t succumb to the urge to buy a physical copy, no matter how pretty the cover is.

P.S. I am totally NOT OKAY with what Marissa Meyer did with Jest and Hatter at the very end. NOPE. That was just UNFAIR.


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