These Deathless Shores

By P H Low

These Deathless Shores, a novel by P H Low
Book details

You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Peter Pan is cheeky, certainly a hero, but he was also annoying and domineering. Did the Lost Boys want to stay on the island, or did Peter force them? On reflection, Peter Pan had some issues, but Disney put an airbrush to these foibles. P.H. Low paints with a different set of paints in These Deathless Shores, a pitch-black sequel to Peter Pan that is straight from the low fantasy playbook. 

Jordan may be an adult now, but she was once one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys. As with all the Boys once she came of age, she had two choices, leave the island, or become a pirate. In this world you do not want to become a pirate as that is a life of constant warfare and if you are caught your fate is either being sent to the briny deep, or for your bones to be made into fairy dust. Peter is on the prowl, and he is happy to stick any adult with his sword, no matter if they are good, bad, or indifferent. 

I enjoy reading sequels to beloved, but out of copyright, fiction. Authors are no longer fully constrained by the original vision and can go out on a limb. This sequel to Peter Pan is incredibly dark. It is quite different to the original, but the bones of the story are fully dependent on what has gone before. 

This is a story of Jordan and her friends who return to the island after they have reached adulthood. The book explores what happens to the Lost Boys. While Peter may remain a boy, they grow up. The story takes a dark turn when it appears that Peter soon forgets his Lost Boys once they are older, and they become the enemy. The children are replaced with new friends, as is Captain Hook. The island is cyclical, the story repeats. It is up to Jordan to change the narrative. 

This is one dark story, bordering on grimdark, certainly the lower depth of low fantasy. Tinkerbell is practically a prisoner harvested for her dust. The pirates and retired Lost Boys are addicted to the powder that is fairy dust, willing to kill to get it. Life on the island is a series of running battles, burying of the dead and healing, only for it to start again. Above all this is a laughing Peter Pan who appears oblivious to the horrors. 

You will get more from Deathless if you understand the original text as the book breaks this down and recreates it. Many of the relationships in the book are taken from the original and played upon, there is a Peter Pan life to the characters and their real lives. This blending makes for an interesting, but tricky read. You are getting twisted storylines and existential angst, all while reading gory and sickening scenes, made worse by children enacting the horrors. 

Deathless is an intelligent dissection and recreation of J.M. Barrie’s tale. The book has layers and character development. What is real and what is the island’s magic means that the book always remains fantastical, and you can never truly get a hold of the truth. I would not recommend this to a fan of the lighter tones of the original, stick to Hook for that (a film that already brought some darker undertones to a sequel to the story). This is a book for fans of low fantasy and particularly those that have a working understanding of the original text.  

Written on 9th July 2024 by .

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