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✵ Book Review│Dust by Kara Swanson

☐ Debut novel
☐ Duology
☐ Portal fantasy
☐ Fairy tale
☐ Peter Pan retelling
☐ Characters with secrets
☐ Phenomenal cover
☐ Modern setting
☐ Dual POV
☐ Clean romance
☐ Morally gray characters
☐ Christian author and publisher
☐ Emphasis on mental health
☐ Themes on light and darkness


Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Book

The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale.

Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real—since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London… and a boy who shouldn’t exist.

Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.

The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan—and herself.

My Review

Dust is one heck of a book! It shows the nuance of human life and the brokenness of the human spirit. Claire’s gift is supposed to be a blessing, but for much of her life, it was a curse. Peter’s carefree nature was also supposed to be a gift, but it brought about a curse. This book shows us that we have a choice to make. We can either let our brokenness and our circumstances overwhelm us with darkness, or we can rise above it all and turn it back to good. Dust isn’t about perfectly good heroes fighting perfectly bad villains (although I bet Captain Hook is pretty bad). It’s about the villainy that lives within us all and the light that shines brightest in the darkness.

Peter. I want to talk about Peter Pan first. I know society usually sees him as a boy without a worry in the world, but honestly, that comes with consequences. Kara Swanson’s Peter is growing up, and he’s realizing his ignorance and selfishness and it’s overwhelming him.

Deep down, Peter is broken and conflicted. He’s never had anyone to look up to or anyone to take care of him or anyone to tell him right from wrong. He has a difficult time controlling himself, almost like a child trapped in a teen’s body. He can be too loud, too rough, too fidgety, and even too arrogant. But he also tries to be brave and kind and steadfast and to understand. He wants to fix things. He stumbles. He falls. And then he rises again. Neverland isn’t the only thing that’s broken. Peter’s broken, too. And Kara Swanson is a genius at showing readers his journey, his pain, and his internal conflict.

He’s Peter Pan, but there’s more to him than just confident leadership and lighthearted adventures.

Claire. Claire grew up in an entirely different world from the Neverland Peter knows, but she is broken, too. Her character is like an ode to all those who feel lost, who are lonely, and who believe they will never belong. And yet despite her flaws, Claire is also someone we can look up to. She is lonely, but she never gives up. She studied, worked multiple jobs, and payed rent for her own apartment. This is despite the fact that she lost her brother at a young age and doesn’t have any parental support. She was hurt, but she still forgives. Peter lied to her, but her heart wanted her to remember the good that he’d shown her. She doesn’t belong, but she always keeps searching. And in the end, she finds that she was meant for another world after all.

Trigger Warnings

One character attempted suicide in the past and has many scars from the aftermath. Two characters were a part of uncaring situations in foster care. Characters struggle with loneliness, trauma, anger, self-doubt, and self-loathing. Two scenes involve burning dust that leaves wounds. Both Peter’s POV and Claire’s POV are in first person, and these can feel heavy at times for people who are sensitive to, well, depressing stuff.

Content Warnings

Fights with some mildly described stabbings and blood. Pirates drink at a rowdy bar. Peter uses “Cor” like a swear word (not sure what that’s about!). One person has flashbacks to a horrific memory of someone being burned. Another person has flashbacks about someone else’s death.

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22 thoughts on “✵ Book Review│Dust by Kara Swanson

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    1. I love retellings because they help me to understand more of the original story (or, if I haven’t read the original, it sparks an interest). 🙂 Thanks again for reading and for commenting, Vanya! ❤️❤️❤️ It means a lot to me!


      1. I am going to read this book all because of your review on it! I love fairytale retellings with a CHRISTIAN focus. It’s not very often we can find so fun, clean stories. Thank you specifically for including the trigger and content warnings! It is so important for many people and often overlooked or thought of as unimportant.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This made my day, Eileen! I’m so grateful for the Heirs of Neverland duology because of its mental health rep from a Christian author and publisher. I’m excited to talk about Dust next month with the Faith & Fantasy group!

          I personally appreciate trigger and content warnings very much, so I’m trying to include those in my review when I can. I’m so glad you found them useful.

          Fairy tale retellings are my absolute favorite. Speaking of those, by the way, have you ever heard of H.S.J. Williams? She wrote Moonscript, which also has mental health themes, and her other published book is an allegorical Snow White retelling. It’s a BEAUTIFUL novella that I’d definitely recommend. 🤍


          1. That’s so good to know! I actually have not heard of that author. I’ll have to add some of their works to my list! Thanks for the recommendation!

            Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh, I LOVE Dust (and Shadow) so much! I’ve always loved Peter Pan, and the depth that Swanson added to his character is just brilliant! I could fan-girl over these books (and the stunning covers) forever. XD Awesome review, Lily!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right!! 🥺 I totally need more Peter Pan *drops everything to read J.M. Barrie’s book and watch Disney’s movie* Thanks so much for dropping by and reading my post today! 🥰 Here’s some fairy dust and Peter Pan emojis for ya! ✨👦🏼🧚🏴‍☠️🪝 Enjoy! 😂💕💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES, the cover is sooo beautiful!!! I’ve actually been coming across so many lovely covers lately that I want to make a list for inspiration for my future book covers XD

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ll admit to you, I bought this series for the covers. I just couldn’t stand not to; they were so beautiful! I believe they were designed by Kirk DouPonce of DogEared Design. He’s also designed covers for R.J. Anderson, Morgan L. Busse, Sharon Hinck, Lindsay A. Franklin, and many more amazing Christian authors!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I ADORE Peter. i can’t begin to say how much. XD But reading this review made me want to re-read Dust. For the third time. XD you know a book is the best when you long to read it for the third time in about a year. loll *checks goodreads* Yep. I read this for the first time last july and the second time in January. lollll

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, Peter is so great. 🥺 Poor cinnamon roll. Everyone says he’s selfish, but he’s really not that bad! (C and the other P are much worse, if you know who I mean.)

      Haha, wow! That’s amazing! You’re welcome for making you want to reread this book yet again. 😂 I would assume that you’ve read Shadow, too, right? I’m currently around three-fourths of the way through, and I can’t believe Claire and Peter’s story is almost over!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Goodness, I totally get ya! I just finished Shadow a few days ago, and WOW! I have lots of thoughts on it, so hopefully I’ll be getting around to writing a review for that as well. Have you read The Girl Who Could See, by the way? I’m thinking about maybe reading it. 🥰

          Liked by 1 person

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