According to Christina Henry, J.M. Barrie got the famous Peter Pan story all wrong.
In “Lost Boy,” Henry’s pitch-dark version of the classic tale, Peter’s onetime buddy reveals that the boy who can fly and never grows up isn’t quite the lovable scamp we’ve always believed him to be.
Jamie, Peter’s first and favorite Lost Boy, maintains that his former playmate is a liar. He accuses Peter of kidnapping naive children with promises of taking them to an island of fun and games.
But the place is hardly an adolescent paradise. True, the boys will stay young forever — but only if they avoid being killed by bloodthirsty pirates, or eaten by crocodiles or island monsters called “Many-Eyeds” or slain by fellow playmates during their savage gladiator-style battles. What fun!
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All the while, Peter soaks up adoration from the boys like a charismatic cult leader and simultaneously feeds off their misery. When Jamie calls him a “monster,” he might be speaking the literal truth.
Our one grievance with “Lost Boy” (Berkley, $15) isn’t the fault of the author. It’s the spoiler that appears on the book jacket cover. Below the title are the words “The True Story of Captain Hook.”
That revelation doesn’t come until the final chapter.
Also new in bookstores
“Blame” by Jeff Abbott (Grand Central Publishing, $26). The author, known for his series about ex-CIA man Sam Capra, offers a standalone thriller. An amnesiac teenage girl investigates the car accident that erased her memory. Was it attempted suicide or foul play?
“The Women Who Flew for Hitler” by Clare Mulley (St. Martin’s, $27.99). Parallel biographies of Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg, female test pilots for Nazi Germany. One begged to fly the Führer to safety in 1945; the other supported a plot to assassinate him.
“The Epiphany Machine” by David Burr Gerrard (Putnam, $27). This weirdly compelling tale feels like a creepy “Twilight Zone” episode. People’s lives are changed, usually for the worse, by a gadget that tattoos fortune cookie-like “truths” on their arms.