Wednesday 10 July 2024

#bookreview: These Deathless Shores | P.H. Low

These Deathless ShoresThese Deathless Shores by P.H. Low
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These Deathless Shores is a Captain Hook origin story, where Peter Pan isn't the bright, happy, beloved kid you remember from the Disney movie. No, something incredibly sinister lurks behind that childish smile. It's darker than I expected it to be; it deals with, amongst others, addiction, eating disorders, childhood trauma, codependency, suicide ideation, gender dysphoria (? well, at least some discussion on gender) and extremely bloodthirsty revenge.

Because that last bit is Jordan's whole motivation, isn't it? To return to the island and to take her revenge on Peter Pan. Everything else is incidental, something to be utilised to serve her end goal of stealing Tinkerbell from Peter. If Low were to have focused only on Jordan, that would have made for a very boring story.

Fortunately, it's the cast of supporting characters that add colour to the story. Baron - whose love for Jordan makes him do difficult things. Tier - who's still trying to become his own man. Chay - who has somehow managed to stay on the Island past adulthood.

For a novel that the author touts as Malaysian-inspired (which was really what interested me, though it's not actually on the blurb), there's nothing that really screams "Malaysia" to me. For obvious reasons, the bulk of the book is spent on the Island, which is that magical-mystical Neverland brought to somewhere on the physical plane instead of up in the sky (and conceptually feels more Bermuda Triangle). The parts and flashbacks to Jordan & Baron's original home of Burima/Hanwa (I'm still not sure if Hanwa is a place or a language or both?) has a more generic Southeast Asia vibe in a Raya and the Last Dragon kind of way. Case in point: the opening fight scene feels more Muay Thai (Thailand); I do not know that I'd be able to find something similar in Malaysia.

Anyway, setting aside, if you're into dark fairy tale retellings, this might be of interest to you!

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Orbit via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. 

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