My rating: 2 of 5 stars
From the Best-Selling Author of Queen of Hearts comes a dark and mesmerizing twist on the beloved Children’s Classic, Peter Pan.
Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.
Beware spoilers ahead!
I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and SparkPress in exchange for an honest review.
I’m going to be honest here. I am not actually a fan of Peter Pan. I never liked the idea of Neverland. As a child it didn’t make any sense as to why there would be an island in which no one aged. Even at this point in my life I like aging. I probably would’ve enjoyed the movie more had I not thought about Neverland too much. So yes I requested this book on a whim. And partly to read a book in which the darker side of Neverland is shown.
The book starts off with a prologue that seemed to take place in Neverland. I actually did not fully understand it. Moving on. Readers are then taken to the first chapter in which we see Wendy and her father looking for the star that eventually takes the Darlings to Neverland. Her mother sees this and yells at her husband because she fears for Wendy’s safety. She could’ve fallen from the window had her father not held on to her. Her father manages to defuse his wife and they look for the star once more. John and Micheal enter the nursery room. While they are preparing for bed Wendy picks up a letter from Booth. Her best friend who works at the book store she frequently visits. When Micheal asks about the letter she is about to come up with an excuse when John interrupts and says that it is from Booth who is probably admitting to being in love with Wendy. Wendy try’s to defend herself and say that Booth is her best friend. When that does not work she eventually retorts saying that unlike John she at least has friends. John then advises her to hide the letter before anyone finds it.
The next day she visits Booth and yes he does admit to being in love with her. And the two try to come up with a plan. He then has to go back to work and tells Wendy that they will continue their conversation. She makes her way downstairs and runs into a friend of her mothers. Said friend insults the bookstore and the owner who is Booth’s father. Booth’s father then tells Wendy that if she truly cares for Booth she will leave his life. He thinks that if Wendy’s parents find out about their plans they will buy off the store cutting off any money he is making. She does as he says and leaves.
When she reaches home she takes Liza’s (the nanny) advice and rests for a few hours. She wakes up to some noise on the window and finds Booth outside. She convinces him that after her parents leave she will meet him outside. Once her parents have left and she is sure that both John and Micheal are sleeping she gets ready to go and see Booth. John wakes up and the two have a fight to which Wendy says that he can go ahead and call Liza if he wants but regardless she will see Booth. Just as she is about to reach the window the lanterns shut off and the window breaks. Startled the Darling children huddle together and are surprised to see a floating boy in the nursery. Said boy is Peter Pan and convinces them to come to Neverland promising to return them home before their parents get back.
Lets move on to the differences between this version and the original one. Wendy is sixteen years old, John is 14 (I think) and Micheal is possibly 4 years old. The ages are different than that of the original story. Wendy is a good older sister and an overall good girl. Despite this her father’s favorite is John. Now John in this version is quite different. He is an extremely bitter person and jealous of Wendy. He also seems to think all women are crazy. Micheal is exactly the same.
Peter Pan actually has around 200 lost boys. He also has a ranking system. When you first arrive in Neverland you start off as a lost boy then eventually you can make your way up to General that way you can participate in stealing from Captain Hook. Tinker Bell like the original version hates Wendy and whenever possible tries to get rid of her. While the Darlings were in Neverland they started to slowly lose their memories of their past life.
Unlike the original version Peter Pan did not allow Wendy to go back to London. Instead he tried to kill her. He saved her saying that he was trying to make a point. Peter and Wendy’s relationship did not make any sense. In the original one you could easily ship them but in this book that was not the case. Peter was obsessed with Wendy to the point where he believes that she belongs to him. Like he owns her. I found Peter to be insane rather than childish. You are given back stories of the characters including Peter Pan and Tinker Bell. Also this story is much darker than the original one.
What really lead to my dislike of this book was John. And yes Peter. I guess part of it comes down to the fact that I have never liked Peter Pan. But honestly I’ll take the original version. The original version was more focused on Wendy mothering the boys. And whenever Wendy pointed something out to Peter he did attempt to listen to her. But he does not do so in this version. Also this is going to be a series. Hopefully when the series ends they will make it back home.
The only things I liked while reading this was Wendy, Booth, and Micheal’s character. Booth and Wendy’s relationship, the writing, the world building, and towards the end when Wendy and Tinker Bell have an interaction. This is the only reason why I have given it a 2 star.
If you like Peter Pan and would like to read a book in which the darker side to Neverland is shown then I would highly recommend this. If you do not like Peter Pan or simply prefer the original version then I wouldn’t recommend this.