Recommended for ages 13+
Gwendolyn has never had a real home. Her mother has moved she and Gwen around for years, never staying too long in one place, always on the run from the monsters she swore were after them. Gwen is tired and frustrated at this latest move to a small apartment in London. Thankfully, her best friend, Olivia, is spending the summer with them.
Shortly after they arrive at the apartment, Gwen and Olivia are taken in the middle of the night by shadowy creatures. Separated from Olivia and desperate to find out what’s going on, she finds herself on a boat and demands that the Captain enlighten her. And that’s when she discovers that the monsters her mother always worried about weren’t just a figment of her imagination. Gwen is in Neverland, and Hook isn’t necessarily the one she has to watch out for. Now, she’s got to find Olivia and try to find their way home, but Pan isn’t planning on making things easy for anyone. He’s got an agenda, and the two girls have been brought to Neverland to help him accomplish it. He’s a sweet talker, especially compared to the harsh, brutal Hook, but Gwen has the feeling that Pan’s not all he seems to be…
This dark fantasy reimagining of Peter Pan will turn everything you think you know about Neverland and Peter Pan on its head. It’s a dark and brutal tale, with children dying in battle and evil faeries playing both sides. It’s fast-paced and well constructed, with smart, put-together characters and a painful World War I story gently woven into the overall narrative. You’ll try to place all the characters – I did – but just go with the narrative rather than try to fit every peg to a hole. For instance, I quickly figured that Gwen was Wendy, but where were Michael and John? There are parallels that could be drawn – no spoilers here – but in the end, Gwen is Gwendolyn, Hook is Hook, Pan is Pan, and Olivia is Olivia. These are their own characters, their own people, unique and individual in every way.
I don’t know whether this will turn into a series or a trilogy. This is a great stand-alone adventure and doesn’t need further explanation. Add to your fantasy collection; YA fairy tales are always good to have available to provide a comforting bridge to childhood with a decidedly grown-up spin to them.