Thanks to the authors for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
London. 1783. Wendy Darling is an orphan, living in an overcrowded almshouse, ridiculed for believing in a future she can never have. More than anything in the world, she wants to be the captain of a ship. But that’s impossible. Isn’t it?
By 1789, she’s sixteen, old enough to be sold into service as a dressmaker or a servant. When she learns the Home Office is accepting a handful of women into its ranks, she jumps at the chance, joining the flight against the most formidable threat England has ever faced. Magic.
But the secret service isn’t exactly what she had hoped. Accompanied by a reimagined cast of the original Peter Pan, Wendy soon discovers that her dreams are as far away as ever, that choosing sides isn’t as simple as she thought, and that the only man who isn’t blinded by her gender…might be her nation’s greatest enemy.
A couple of weeks ago, I took part in the blog tour for The Wendy. I was very excited as I loved the cover and the excerpt that was provided. Well, after finishing the book last night, I’m thrilled to say it exceeded my expectations.
The Wendy is more than a simple retelling, despite having the familiar characters of Wendy, John, Michael, Nana, Peter Pan, Captain James Hook, and Tinkerbell. Set in Jane Austen’s England when misogyny was rife, Wendy is a diviner with the British Home Office and Clandestine Services. Women and dogs (which is where Nana comes in) are the only ones able to sense magic. Unfortunately, despite this ability, women are still judged solely by their gender, something Wendy is determined to overcome. I absolutely LOVED her! Her intellect is a sharp as a rapier and I was in stitches over the way the males in the book are so often left completely nonplussed by her. I’m not going to go into details, but even her eyebrow hysterically takes on a personality of it’s own! I know this sounds odd, but you’ll just have to trust me on this. Not only a learned scholar, she also is a better fighter than most of the men she serves with, including John and Michael. Her steely determination to realize her dream is such a positive message and readers won’t be able to stop themselves from cheering for her.
Peter is the leader of the everlost—winged beings with pointy fangs. He’s just as cocky as the original Pan, yet there’s a sweet innocence about him. The scene where he and Wendy first meet, is my favorite. At first he completely underestimates her because she’s a woman, yet he quickly comes to admire and respect her and their banter is just as much fun as the sword fight. An underlying romance starts to develop between the two, and I can’t wait to see how their relationship develops in the next book.
I’m going to stop at describing everyone else, because I don’t want to be any more spoilerish than I already have been. I’m just going to say that EVERYONE is simply perfect; from the ever loyal John, Michael, and Nana; to Hook who is villainous yet endearing at the same time. Each character, while based on the original is so unique and imaginative that I fully fell in love with them.
And if the wonderful characters aren’t enough, there’s the creative and exciting plot. In addition to Barrie’s classic, I’ve read five or six retellings of this story and I didn’t think I could be surprised anymore. Well, the authors managed to not only keep me enthralled, but also to surprise me by the direction their story took.
The Wendy isn’t simply another YA fantasy book. This is a gorgeously told tale that all adult fans of historical fantasy should experience, especially if you have fond memories of the original Peter Pan. With a heroine whose fierce determination and wit leap off the page, it’s most welcome as current events have shown that misogyny is sadly alive and well even now. My one disappointment is that I have no idea when the second book will be coming out. I realize it’s only January, but I already know The Wendy is going to be one of my favorite books of 2018 and I’m going to be re-reading it multiple times in the future. If you love fantasy and you’re looking for a perfect escape from the winter doldrums, politics, or you need a break from the world in general—please, PLEASE treat yourself and pick up this book. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.