Author: R.L. Davennor
Publisher: Night Muse Press
Publish Date: October 26, 2021
Print Length: 174
All my life, I’ve dreamed of the sea.
Mermaids, stormy skies, daring adventures, pirates…it was little wonder I sprinted to the docks the moment I left the orphanage. Eager to begin my new life, I searched for a ship that would have me—and found a thief instead. I chased the bastard.
Now I’m trapped.
I’m told this place is Neverland, but everything I touch is dead or dying; what’s left is hellbent on killing each other. Monsters lurk around every corner, and everyone I meet hides a damning secret. I’m thrust in the middle of a deadly feud, and the only one capable of unraveling the curse that plagues us.
Neverland is my home now. Until it’s done with me?
It will never let go.
Peter Pan meets Pirates of the Caribbean in A Land of Never After, but reader beware: this children’s tale has been reimagined for adult lovers of all things dark and deadly, with an LGBTQ+ positive twist.
I received a free, digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.
The theme of my reading lately is definitely all about retellings. A Land of Never After is a dark, adult retelling of Peter Pan. Wendy is 16 and is now too old to remain at the orphanage. Hoping to put some distance between herself and a place she doesn’t hold dear, Wendy sets out to catch sail on a ship. But just as her rash and stubborn efforts are about to land her a spot, Wendy’s pulled away by none other than Peter Pan.
She soon finds herself in the Forest of Never, where many have entered, but from which none have returned. This is not your average forest. Everything in it is dying. Leaving is not an option. And you must either kill or be killed.
A Land of Never After is probably the most unique retelling I’ve had the pleasure to read. Dare I say it falls somewhere in the realm of fantasy horror? The incorporation of a curse on all who inhabit the land really takes this twist on Peter Pan to a whole new level. It serves to add more depth to each main character. Compared to the classic children’s tale, the characters in this rendition are more cunning and ruthless. They have to be if they want to live. I also really liked that the curse means more time with Hook and pirate life.
As the synopsis indicates, there is an LGBTQ+ twist. Though the “twist” has nothing to do with the overall plot, it’s important to mention in case someone is looking for a more inclusive read.
Davennor’s writing is easy to read, clean, and to the point. A novella in length, Davennor makes succinct use of the page count to convey important plot points and nuanced emotions of the main characters. There is some world-building, but it’s not extensive, mainly, I think, because of the book length. Perhaps my only critiques are that Wendy seems a bit too rash and naive at the beginning, and the interactions between Wendy and Peter are a bit rushed. I find it a little difficult to imagine a female orphan walking up to a small group of intimidating-looking men at a bar in the evening to ask if they’ve seen Peter.
Overall, I enjoyed A Land of Never After. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that this tale is perfect for those who chase retellings, adore bloodthirsty curses, and get weak in the knees for pirates.
Content warnings: language, violence, mentions of gender dysphoria and suicide
Reading format: Kindle e-book