Whimsy, Longing, and Shards of Light | Dust Book Review

Hello, dear readers!

I have a confession to make: I have never read Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Even worse, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Disney movie.

*Cue collective gasp.*

Though you’re all probably questioning my childhood right now, I did recently read Dust by Kara Swanson, a magical Peter Pan retelling/sequel that stole my heart. Plus, the cover is simply gorgeous.

Just look at it.

In Dust we meet Claire Kenton, a girl who’s alone, exhausted, and afraid of the golden dust that seeps from her skin. All she wants is to find her twin brother who was kidnapped years ago, but the facts she uncovers seem to point to the impossible– he was stolen away by Peter Pan.

Peter Pan is trapped in modern day London, cut off from Neverland, hunted by his own Lost Boys, and forced to face his own shadows. His only hope for returning home is a girl with pixie dust at her fingertips– so long as he can hide the truth from her.

What I Liked

First off, my absolute favorite aspect of this book was probably the characters. They were truly wonderful, and I could picture sweet, introverted, resilient Claire just as clearly as daring and confident Peter. I loved seeing the world from both their perspectives and watching their arcs.

However, it’s not just the main characters who sprang to life so vividly. The side characters were every bit as engaging. In particular, the level-headed, capable, and strong Tiger Lily is a person anyone would be lucky to have as a friend. I appreciate how Kara didn’t shy away from giving Lily her own struggles, and instead gave her tremendous depth by showing how those challenges made her even stronger.

Along with that, Dust was both well paced and well written. Every scene supported the overall story in a beautiful, vibrant way. A number of times, I found myself relishing the imagery and setting of a scene. The world was truly painted as a whimsical, misty city full of dark corners pierced by brighter rays of light. Alas, if only I were better at fan art….

What I Didn’t Like

The one thing I didn’t prefer was the insta love. Especially considering the personalities of the characters, it seemed like the romance sparked and deepened far too quickly. This is definitely a personal opinion, but I really wish they hadn’t fallen for one another instantaneously.

There were also a couple places where I was a little skeptical at how things played out. Those were fairly minor, however, and didn’t bother me significantly.

Final Thoughts

What stands out most clearly in my mind about this book is the stunning theme of letting the light shine through your shadows and raw, broken parts.

We all have regrets, we all have things about ourselves or lives that we desperately wish we could change, we all are broken.

But at the center of this story is the realization that light can overcome and heal our shadows. A person’s darkness does not define them. This idea is etched into every page, but there are a couple quotes that sum it up beautifully.

You were created for more than to bear the weight of your shadows– but you have to choose to no longer let them define you. You have to choose to let the light shine through the shattered pieces.

Dust by Kara Swanson

The light in you is far brighter than the darkness. Don’t forget that.

Dust by Kara Swanson

All in all, Dust is a powerful retelling filled with whimsy, shards of light, and a longing for childhood and healing. I can’t wait for the sequel, Shadow, to be released next summer. 4.5-4.75 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4 thoughts on “Whimsy, Longing, and Shards of Light | Dust Book Review

  1. Thank you for this review…i am adding to my plans to read list for sure :). Oh and i never read Peter Pan…i have seen the movies, for there are so many of them but I love finding these retelling of stories so thank you for sharing.


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