MacLaine’s debut novel delivers a new twist on an old classic, complete with pirates, dragons, pixies, childhood adventure and a twee fairyland.
Peter Pan long ago left the Neverland, grew up, grew old and died. His former companion, Tinkerbell, never forgave this betrayal; after renaming herself “Belle,” she departed the Neverland as well. Now the enchanted place is in the hands of Cap’n Hook’s successor, the merciless Capt. Li’l Jack, and his dread dragon, Sincoraz. If Belle wants to save the Neverland, she’s going to need the help of Peter Pan’s heir, Piper Pizzinni, who’s unknowingly his granddaughter. Piper is in the foster system, where her life hasn’t been conducive to the happy thoughts she’ll need in the coming struggle. With the help of some other “Lost Girls” (foster kids who refer to themselves as “the Lifers”), Piper joins the mission to save the Neverland, although she and Belle will have to overcome their differences to do so. MacLaine does an admirable job of capturing the feel of a classic children’s adventure novel, with genuine touches of magic and adventure throughout. The characters, however, keep the story grounded. Piper, in particular, is a strong, relatable protagonist motivated by the disappearance of her parents but not solely defined by it. The author’s depiction of Belle shows what might happen if the somewhat vain Tinkerbell had to truly face losing Peter forever. The story might have benefited from even more thoughtful, direct interactions with the source material; unfortunately, the book ends with jarring abruptness and little resolution, although this may be remedied by future books in the series.
A solid, entertaining and thoughtful fantasy tale, aside from a few small hitches.