For those looking for a dark take on the Peter Pan story, look no further than Wendy, Darling by A.C. Wise. Read on for a book review of Wendy, Darling.
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Find the second star from the right, and fly straight on ’til morning, all the way to Neverland, a children’s paradise with no rules, no adults, only endless adventure and enchanted forests – all led by the charismatic boy who will never grow old.
But Wendy Darling grew up. She has a husband and a young daughter called Jane, a life in London. But one night, after all these years, Peter Pan returns. Wendy finds him outside her daughter’s window, looking to claim a new mother for his Lost Boys. But instead of Wendy, he takes Jane. Now a grown woman, a mother, a patient and a survivor, Wendy must follow Peter back to Neverland to rescue her daughter and finally face the darkness at the heart of the island…
Wendy, Darling takes place several years after the events of the movie Peter Pan. In those long years, the Darling children have lost their parents, Michael has returned from war with PTSD and John has taken the lead role of the family. Now a grown woman with regrets and trauma from being institutionalized, Wendy stumbles upon Peter flying off with her daughter Jane. Determined to get Jane back, Wendy heads to Neverland where she sees its (and Peter’s) darkness with clear eyes.
Author A.C. Wise deftly mixes the lore of Neverland and the sinister motivation behind Peter Pan’s behavior. And let’s be clear, in Wendy, Darling Peter Pan is at his worst self. He is bratty, dangerous and hell bent on establishing a new mother for the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys make a reappearance and throughout the novel they are clearly are struggling under Peter Pan’s ridiculous expectations and rules. Here’s why the darkness in this story works, because what’s more darker than children who never grow up to be adults led by a master manipulator who doesn’t want to grow up either?
Our heroine Wendy has been through hell in an insane asylum so when she finally succumbs to “war” with Peter, it’s not to punish him for just taking Jane, it’s to destroy his power and cruelty over the other inhabitants of Neverland. Also important in her journey is her coming to terms with how fractured her relationship with her brothers had become and realizing that she is a survivor. Nothing stops Wendy from saving Jane and making things right on Neverland; not her brother’s disdain, nor her husband who happens to be gay and not even the fear of what happened to the mermaids and to Tiger Lilly (spoiler alert!) prevents her from one final face-off with Peter Pan.
Dark but ultimately inspirational Wendy, Darling is a unique story for adults who enjoy fantasy thrillers.