Sunday 17 January 2016

Wendy Darling: Stars - Book Review

Wendy Darling: Stars - Book Review
Colleen Oakes
YA Fantasy
Publisher: SparkPress


Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighbourhood bookseller’s son. But while her 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 the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, an intoxicating Island of feral freedom.

As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realises 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 land of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.


I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. As a child I loved Peter Pan, and I was concerned this darker retelling would not appeal to me, but I really liked it. It is a story that begins very innocently, with the more shadowy elements not coming into play until nearer the end of the book. This made for a nice twist and created an intriguing storyline that ensured I will most definitely be reading the sequel.

When Wendy’s parents discover her affections for the booksellers son, Booth, they declare that Wendy may never see him again. That night, while her parents are at a party, a strange boy flies through the nursery window, and offers to take Wendy and her brothers away from their boring, London lives of rules and propriety. And so the Darling children arrive in Neverland, a place where there are no rules, no bedtimes, no parents, and no one to stop them doing what they want, except Peter.

But beneath Peter’s cheery exterior, lies a power hungry greed. He has plans to kill the Pirates, take over Neverland, and name Wendy his queen. But Wendy has already pledged her love to Booth, and even with her fading memories and Peter’s cajoling charm, she can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. But Peter has never had a mother to teach him patience, and when Wendy continues to refuse him, she learns that Peter would rather break his toys, then see them taken from him…

The characters in this book were amazingly well written. Told from the view point of sixteen-year-old Wendy Darling, this story paints Peter as a fun, charming, yet unhinged teen who has gone too long without rules or proper company. It read very realistically, and I loved how the hints at Peter’s darker nature were revealed slowly as the the book progressed.

However keeping true to the original story, Wendy remained a good girl with her innocence and naivety. Yet she also found her courage and I loved the fierce protection she has toward her brothers, even when they don't always get along. I especially enjoyed the conflict between her and John, which showed the resentment and jealousy that can boil between siblings if left unchecked, especially when they are forced into such gender-specific roles. 

In terms of descriptions, this book created some amazing imagery and visuals, the tree house, the mermaids, and the island itself were all really well done. I was disappointed we didn't get to meet captain hook, but the details about his ship and the underground cavern were fabulous. But Tink, I thought the fairy was written in such a new and amazing way, a truly complicated character and one I hope will feature more in the next book.

Plot wise, the story was a little slow to start and it wasn't until well after the halfway mark, when the book started taking a darker turn that I thought things really got interesting. However the world building and set up for the story was intriguing enough that I wasn't bored, although it may put some readers off.

All in all though this book was really enjoyable and one fans of Peter Pan retellings should definitely pick up. I promise the cliff hanger of an ending will leave you thirsting for more. 4 stars!

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