The fashion for grimdark retellings of childhood classics tackles Peter Pan in the first of a trilogy.
Wendy Darling tries to be a proper young lady despite her forbidden romance with a bookseller’s son. Yet when a strange, beautiful, flying (!) youth tempts her and her younger brothers to abandon stodgy Edwardian London, she yields to long-suppressed yearnings for adventure. Described in lush, lingering detail, Neverland is all that Peter Pan promises: vibrant, gorgeous, filled with magic and excitement. But it also harbors unexpected dangers…perhaps none greater than Peter himself. Most of the familiar characters appear, although with disturbing twists: the Darling parents are snobbish and ineffectual, John condescending and cruel, the Lost Boys feral and dissolute, and Tink broken and insane. Selfish, seductive, and sociopathic, Peter himself displays little of his customary childlike innocence or fey charm. Instead, he seems stuck in perpetual adolescence: pure id, churning with chaotic aggression and barely leashed appetites. While she is initially intoxicated by his charisma, Wendy’s practical good sense, stubborn loyalty, and newly liberated fire give her the courage to defy Peter...only to land, in a stunning cliffhanger, in even worse peril.
Dark, even horrific in its graphic bloodshed and psychological menace; but the nuanced portrayals—of a hero frequently excused by his whimsical glamour and a heroine too often dismissed as girlishly insipid—are riveting. (Fantasy. 14 & up)