The Dark Side of Fantasy

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Wyrd and Wonder is a celebration of all things fantasy. The format of figurative consumption doesn’t matter. You can read, watch, game, puzzle, etc. anything fantasy! To learn more visit my introduction post, which includes links to the hosts and more information about this month-long appreciation of the fantasy genre.

Today’s Wyrd and Wonder prompt is “dark:”

Time to celebrate a subgenre – choose your path wisely, whether you love grimdark, dark fantasy, or horror.

When I stop to think about the type of fantasy I read, it comes down to either fantasy with romance or dark fantasy. Usually there’s some of both subgenres in a fantasy book that I pick up.

What is dark fantasy? Fantasy Book Fanatic describes this subgenre as “typified by a deliberately ominous tone, reinforcing what is commonly perceived as a “gloomy” atmosphere. Standard features of fantasy are deliberately intertwined with a sense of terror and dread to create this sinister subcategory of fantasy.” FBF lists characteristics often found in dark fantasy books, which can include a deliberately ominous tone; the possibility that evil can win; themes of good vs. evil; a lack of heroes; elements of horror; and a gloomy atmosphere.

Continue reading “The Dark Side of Fantasy”

WWW Wednesday: January 19, 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme revived and hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The idea is to answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses.

What are you currently reading?

What have you just finished reading?

What are you going to read next?

Currently Reading: I decided to step out of my comfort zone and into the land of YA romance. I can’t remember the last time (or if) I read something in this genre, but I somehow stumbled across Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith. I thought the cover was cute and I thought why not give it ago? So far it’s a nice, light read and I’m enjoying the genre switch.

Recently Finished: The last book I finished reading is The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa. Before that I finished A Land of Never After by R.L. Davennor. You can read my review here. It’s a Peter Pan retelling that’s not particularly fit for a child’s bed time story. Think light fantasy horror regarding a curse where the characters must kill or be killed to survive.

Reading Next: Sometimes I can answer this one, and sometimes I can’t since I’m a mood reader. I might get a head start on a book tour book, or I might try and squeeze in another NetGalley request. If I go the NG route, I’ll read Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman.

Book Review: A Land of Never After by R.L. Davennor

Author: R.L. Davennor
Publisher: Night Muse Press
Publish Date: October 26, 2021
Print Length: 174

Official Synopsis
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.

My Review
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.

Rating: 3.75/5
Content warnings: language, violence, mentions of gender dysphoria and suicide
Reading format: Kindle e-book

WWW Wednesday: January 12, 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme revived and hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The idea is to answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses.

What are you currently reading?

What have you just finished reading?

What are you going to read next?

Currently Reading: I’m currently reading The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa, which I received via NetGalley. If you’re reading this you already know I’m a sucker for books. Throw in a cat and I’m in it to win it.

Recently Finished: I recently finished Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. I posted my review a couple of days ago. It’s a great book if you enjoy mythology retellings, or more specifically, Chinese mythology retellings; quests; love; betrayal; and a strong female protagonist. The last book I finished reading, though, is The Land of Never After by R.L. Davennor. This is another NetGalley read and, in a nutshell, it’s a dark retelling of Peter Pan. I haven’t written my review yet, but it’s on my docket to do so.

Reading Next: I’m not quite sure what I’ll read next. I’ve made great progress already on my NetGalley approvals. I’m currently on my third backlogged NG approval this month. I can’t decide if I want to continue this NG trend, or take a break and read Culture Warlords (nonfiction) by Talia Lavin or Field Notes on Love (romance) by Jennifer Smith.