Page Count 352
Publication date June 2021
Publisher Titan Books
For those that lived there, Neverland was a children’s paradise. No rules, no adults, only endless adventure and enchanted forests – all led by the charismatic boy who would never grow old.
But Wendy Darling grew up. She left Neverland and became a woman, a mother, a patient, and a survivor. Because Neverland isn’t as perfect as she remembers. There’s darkness at the heart of the island, and now Peter Pan has returned to claim a new Wendy for his lost boys…
I’m a big fan of retellings and this isn’t my first spin on Peter Pan. However in this novel the focus, as you can guess from the title, is Wendy.
The novel is told by two characters on dual timelines. We have Wendy as an adult in the present and remembering her past with Peter, we also have Wendy as a young woman on a second time line that bridges the gap between her two stints in Neverland.
The story begins with a torturous scene as Wendy runs to the bedroom of her only daughter Jane, just as Peter arrives to steal her away. We follow Jane’s journey as an unwilling hostage in Neverland.
You’ll find no Tinkerbell in this Neverland, no Hook, no Croc, no mermaids, but the Lost Boys and Tiger Lily remain on an island turned bitter with secrets. Wendy, Darling explores the two sides of Peter’s personality; the lonely boy desperate for a mothers love and the cruel, possessive dictator who cares only for his own entertainment.
Wendy Darling is a dark look into the psyche of Peter and Wendy, the loss of innocence and the brutality of the real world. Character development is the basis of this story, and much of it is spent in the minds of Wendy and Jane.
I found both characters believable and enjoyable, their strong female independence was a treat in a London/Neverland where women are born only to care for men.
The character of ‘Cook’ is a welcome addition to the story of Neverland. Wendy first meets her in a women’s asylum and she provides the touchstone for reality whilst providing a tiny slice of hope for Wendy as she endures the hardships of the asylum.
I would’ve perhaps liked more adventure, but the transformation of Wendy from child to mother, victim to warrior was excellent nonetheless.
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Have you read Wendy, Darling? What did you think?