Thanks to NetGalley and Red Adept Publishing for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: On the anniversary of her mother’s death, fourteen-year-old Madge Darling’s grandmother suffers a heart attack. With the overbearing Grandma Wendy in the hospital, Madge runs away to Chicago, intent on tracking down a woman she believes is actually her mother.
On her way to the Windy City, a boy named Peter Pan lures Madge to Neverland, a magical place where children can remain young forever. While Pan plays puppet master in a twisted game only he understands, Madge discovers the disturbing price of Peter Pan’s eternal youth.
All Darling Children is the latest to retell the classic tale of Barrie’s Peter Pan and while I had some issues with it, I did find it to be one of the more imaginative interpretations I’ve read. Let me get the negatives out of the way first. My first problem is the time period this storyline is set in. The original book is set in the early 1900s. The time this is set in is the late 1990s or early 2000s. That would make Madge’s Grandma Wendy (and yes, she’s the THAT Wendy) well over 100 years old! While she has some health issues, they’re more in line with someone, say in their seventies or eighties. The same problem applies to Madge’s Uncle Michael, who seems more middle-aged. Also, Madge’s missing mother, Jane seems to be Michael’s sister, which really makes no sense. And then there’s John and the question of whatever happened to him. For some odd reason Monroe decided to completely write him out of the story. I was left pretty confused by these inconsistencies. What saves this book though is Madge and Neverland. I loved Madge’s spunk and stubborn determination to find out what really happened to her mother. This spirit also serves her well in dealing with the psychotic Pan. I’m not sure why but in every retelling I’ve read, authors seem to love turning him into a nasty piece of work. Not that I have a problem with that mind you. I never liked Peter Pan (the character), even as a child. And in this story he’s no different. He’s basically a murderous narcissist who is quite capable of committing all sorts of atrocities. The way he treats the Lost Boys is appalling, and his “enemies” even worse. Tiger Lily is featured predominantly and I loved how her character was developed. And of course no Pan retelling is complete without Captain James Hook. While he’s no saint in this, the author shows a different side of him that I quite enjoyed. He has a wry sense of humor that actually had me liking him even though his motives are quite often murky. Neverland itself is wonderfully described with all these sinister undertones to its paradise-like surface. The story is fast-paced and filled with plenty of suspense and tension. Overall, All Darling Children is a flawed yet still fairly decent horror-filled take on the literary classic. I think older teens and adults who enjoyed the original Peter Pan, might find this interesting.