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Reviewed by Jess Starke
Opening sentence
Hourglasses are a delicate, precise way to keep time enslaved.
Adapting a classic that everyone knows is a challenge that many authors take on, and one that many authors fail to do. However, Second Star to the Right takes the classic tale of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys and breathes new life into it by exploring the story in a way few would’ve even imagined doing. Yet Natalya M. Newman embraced this challenge and accomplished it rather successfully.

I really enjoy the structure of this book. The chapter titles allude to the action just enough to peak one's curiosity, drawing you further into the text. We get taken on a journey through Peter's psyche and the intricacies of Neverland. Exploring not only the lives of the Lost Boys, but of the other residents of Neverland. Shedding light onto the lives of characters such as Tigerlily, Tinkerbell, Hook and many others. Sharing the main focus on characters aside from just Peter adds depth to the text. We get to see what might’ve happened to Wendy if she was to go to Neverland on her own, rather than with her brothers, what she could’ve been like if she created her own adventure, and what it would be like if she was in a world so different to her own where she could be true to herself. Exploring the possibility of romantic interest with Tigerlily, learning what it would be like for her future to be full of dreams and possibilities.

The threat of growing up looms over all our shoulders. We all want to stay young for as long as possible, and even go to extreme measures to retain the attributes of our youth. Often we call this nostalgia, but others will go to any length to avoid the realities of getting older. Peter Pan is one of those people, which is amplified in Newman’s work. His desperation to hang onto his youth often ends up hurting those around him, which is something that I feel many people will resonate with.

Following the emotional adventure that all these characters go on and watching them adapt and grow through the text was something I really enjoyed being a part of. It became far easier to insert myself into the text and truly immerse myself into the book as it came from the voice of someone who knows their audience very well. This book had spectacular imagery, a captivating plot, and Newman did a fantastic job. I would reach for this book again and have recommended it to many people.

If you’re looking for a text accurate to the original, I’d advise you to pick something else up. However, if you like tantalising tales, and something that has plot twists around every corner, this is the book for you. This along with queer undertones and emotional turmoil are what makes this text really shine. If you are an avid fanfiction reader or you like books such as A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy’s Once and Future, you will really appreciate this book. I feel that it has the right mix of original adventures and nods to the classic that make it more than just another retelling. Although it does show in the book that it is Newman's first work, it shows immense potential, and I would be happy to pick up another book of Newman’s in the future.
Publisher: Self-published
ISBN: 978-0473693930
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2023
Ages: 15+
Themes: Fantasy, growing up, emotions, LGBTQIA+