Stars (Wendy Darling, #1) by Colleen Oakes

Received from NetGalley for review.

Stars, the first book in a new series about the infamous Wendy Darling and Peter Pan, is a reimagined Peter Pan, where Peter and Wendy are older, and Peter is a lot darker. We all know the story; Peter comes and whisks the Darling children off to Neverland for a fantastical adventure, filled with magic, pirates, and mermaids. But this is where the similarities between Stars and the original story end; Colleen Oakes has crafted something much darker, more intense – a Peter Pan with a twisted mind and heart at its core.

Stars tells the story from Wendy’s point of view, beginning in London, where she is a young lady of society, secretly in love with the bookseller’s son, Booth. What we expect to happen still does happen; Peter appears to the Darling children – John, aged fourteen and extremely bright but not a very nice person, eternally jealous and angry towards Wendy; Michael, aged five and adorable; Wendy herself, sixteen years old and readying to enter London society (but dealing with the heartbreak of being told she cannot be with the boy she loves), is brave, feisty and smart, and I loved her. Peter Pan is older in this version, but no less charming, beautiful, and fun loving as we expect. He draws you in like a moth to a flame, all charisma and courage, but beneath the surface he is not just the young boy who never wanted to grow up; he is damaged, desperate for Wendy’s love and affection, wanting her all for himself.

The story is much darker than I expected, especially the character of Peter himself. He’s a Peter Pan for an older audience, around the age of sixteen, and as we would expect of teenage boys, boisterous and animalistic and physical; he wants to be with Wendy in every way, and this story is the first time I have ever been able to describe the story as sexy. But it is. Peter and Wendy have a romance that sizzles, hot and intense, bringing upon Wendy the wrath of a very different Tinkerbell, who is just as damaged as Peter, maybe even more so, as the only fairy left in Neverland. There is blood and death and gore; the Lost Boys are young and wild, completely enamoured with Peter and playing at soldiers, risking torture and death for a life free from adults and some praise from their god-like leader. Neverland itself is such a whimsical and majestic place, all treehouses, swinging vines, giant flowers and crystal clear waters; it is a place of dreams and magic, but under its surface it harbours a very real darkness, a very real risk.

I adored reading this book; I love most stories involving the wondrous Peter, and this is no exception. Although it was darker than I expected, and I’m not sure how I feel about the characterisation of Peter towards the end, Stars is an excellent reimagining of a story so well known and loved, and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series when it comes out.

Read: October 7th-10th 2015

4/5 stars

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