There have been multiple Peter Pan retellings published recently which I find odd but also fascinating. Peter Pan is one of my favorite Disney movies and I love reading what are essentially sequels to the story of the boy who never grew up.

Last year I read Wendy Darling last year and it was really good so when I got a ARC of 'Darling Girl' by Liz Michalski I was excited to read another novel based around this classic children's story. 

A children's story this was not... this book deserves all the trigger warnings but my goodness it was incredible. A lot of people do not like this book but I really loved it. It was dark, twisted, exciting and so interesting. Of course it is about Peter Pan so it's not realistic but this was a really out of the box story and I loved it. It was so incredibly far fetched I couldn't help but get swept up in it. 

Darling Girl was rich with history, fantasy, and Peter Pan easter eggs. It is well worth the read, in my opinion.

Publisher's Summary

Life is looking up for Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy—yes, that Wendy. She's running a successful skincare company; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her . . . until she gets a call that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for nearly a decade, has gone missing from the estate where she's been long tucked away. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.
Eden's disappearance is a disaster for more reasons than one. She has a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly—ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up—which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. 

It’s a secret that Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden's half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to—her mother is the only other person in the world who knows that Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he is not the hero she’s always imagined. 

Desperate, Holly enlists the help of Christopher Cooke, a notorious ex-soldier, in the hopes of rescuing Eden before it's too late . . . or she may lose both her children.

Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.

My Thoughts

Wendy's granddaughter starts a skincare line that is infused with pixie dust.. that's how this book starts off and I am immediately hooked. What was the secret Holly was keeping? What happened in her past that was so secretive that she couldn't tell anyone? Why didn't she talk to her family? What is going on?

I had so many questions within the first few chapters and you wait a long time to get answers but it's well worth the wait. 

The story of Eden and Jack was very sad and it also opened up an entirely different part of the story - a part of the story that cracked open the rest of the plot. This book took a turn I didn't see coming, a very dark turn where Peter Pan is involved and introduced.

When you meet Jane and start to understand the story of the Darling girls, it feels oddly like coming home. It's like you're saying 'I know these people, I know this story'. It was so meta and a little odd because it's like they were breaking the 4th wall. In this story, Peter Pan is real and the Darlings are a real family... the Disney movie and the original book were just based off of them. It wasn't make believe, it was reality.

I can't tell you too much about the book without giving the entire plot away but nothing is what it seems in this story. It's adventurous, off putting, confusing and sad. It had me cringing but also had me on the edge of my seat. 

Peter Pan is the villain in this story and that was something that was really clear from the beginning. Holly is not a fan of him and there is more to him than what fairytales have told us. 

Darling Girl was a wild ride - I loved every moment of it. It was an odd story with unlikable characters, I didn't love anyone in the novel and found Holly, Jack and Jane annoying but when you find out more about their relationships and see the character development, it all makes sense.

The writing in Darling Girl is superb. It was eloquent, detailed, thoughtful and developed. The characters changed throughout the story, solved their problems and came out on the other side.

If you want to read something different and weirdly nostalgic, and don't mind a dark story then I think you'll really like Darling Girl.

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