“All children, except one, grow up, and for the rest it remains tough going.”
An important pair of questions readers should go into Chance Calloway’s Neverland novella, Lost, armed with are “What is Peter Pan, and what is Neverland?” Calloway offers up answers for both of these questions in their due time over the course of his tale, and includes a feast of delight and wisdom easily accessible just past it for his readers.
Calloway has a true knack for whimsical language- his prose is at its best when it turns to pirouettes of prettiness and the fantastical. The Neverland he paints with his words in this story is at once accessible to those at all familiar with the stories of Peter Pan, but Calloway uses his pen strokes to sharpen its edges more than some may expect, and the story benefits from these details and dangers of a fantastical place where a legendary boy never grows up.
Calloway’s story follows a nameless boy whisked away to Neverland, an adopted prince turned exile from the Sandcastle kingdom who finds himself through adventures surviving the wilderness of neverland oft mentioned only in passing in other visits to the land.
Nameless Boy encounters and indeed competes with the legendary Peter Pan in this story- Calloway’s Pan is more a force of nature, menacing and daemonic in the right ways to assure the reader that yes, growing up may hurt, it may come with pain and strife, but it’s better to face the challenge head on than to strive for the impossible impassivity of eternal youth.
It’s an important set of morals to convey in an age and society where perpetual and extended youth seem to be virtues by way of #selflove. How can I invoke society in a story set in the most famous fantasy setting that is supposedly absent of it? Because Calloway demands it of the reader. His story is a tapestry of rich and delightful characters- from the line of princes of the Sandcastle kingdom, to the lost boys we meet along the way- the most important characters are the communities that these characters form as collectives.
Nameless takes us on the journey from childhood and the importance of growing up by way of grappling with his exile from one community that defined him after his arrival to Neverland, and then his juxtaposition and fringe existence to the Lost Boys and Peter Pan. We cannot deny to ourselves where we want to go or where we are going as time marches on, Calloway seems to say to the reader. He assures and comforts us in greater measure that there’s strength and fire to be found in remembering and holding on the love and joy of where we came from.
It’s a delightful story, patiently and lovingly crafted. I recommend the novella to anyone with a taste for a coming of age story with a hearty helping of the fantastical. One hopes that Calloway takes us back to the unseen and untold parts of Neverland for more adventures with Nameless someday, but for now we have the gift of this wonderful story.