For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along. The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories.
I could not put this book down all weekend! Neverland and its characters are so
much more complex and layered than I have read in other Neverland remakes. Nothing in the plot was predictable. As revelations were uncovered, the plot kept getting more and more complicated. I loved
the dual narratives with a small preceding story prior to each chapter.
Maxwell's language is so beautifully descriptive. She painted vivid pictures in my mind that were both descriptive of the landscape and emotional in depth, so you saw and felt what was happening around Gwen.
I would have liked more girl power in the form of Gwen and Olivia working together. Olivia's character was rather underutilized for most of the story. So many adventure stories underutilize the female characters, and this story became a victim of that plot device as well. I had hoped Tigerlily would appear to help Gwen!
There was a lot to think about regarding what truly defines good versus evil
characters and how stories are offered up to describe this; it ends up being a much more complicated world of choices and responsibility for those choices. Gwen was not prepared for a lot of what
happened thus had a lot of doubt and fear to overcome, which I think the author explored well in the story. I really liked how Gwen's perceptions were constantly being re-evaluated and that not
everything is black and white in terms of heroes and villains. Stories can be dangerous if we become too complacent in the way we define people and actions.
I love the setting details, the characters, the layers in the plot which are slowly revealed, and Maxwell's prose. All wonderful. Some of the plot items were not resolved (as mentioned below in my spoiler section), and near the end, Gwen took a backseat to the resolution of the plot. However, I really like the way this author develops a world and tells her story. Such a captivating read.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
A few questions I was left with:
1. Why did Fiona offer Rowan Gwen's thread of life? Fiona said something odd about him not wasting his life for Gwen, so I was not sure if her comment indicated her affections towards him or what she expected his role to be going forward.
2. How did Fiona kill Pan? Did she rip his heart out or something? She grabs him,
she pokes him with her nails, then he is dead. What happened? That chapter with Fiona coming in as Pan is pulling out Gwen's life force was very rushed and not well explained, which surprises me
since Maxwell was so good at drawing out and detailing moments throughout the story otherwise.
3. What happened to the dark fey now? With Gwen leaving, did Neverland cease to exist and thus so too the fey?
Additionally, the scene where Pan has Olivia hostage and is threatening Gwen to give him her power, it was all rather far-fetched. The argument Pan made was not convincing. Why not just let him get destroyed by the Queen? It’s clear the dark fey are helping Gwen, so why would she not call upon their help? Gwen instead took the passive role in the scene. She has spent most of the novel building up her power, so this scene where she's being asked to give it away to someone just as ruthless as the Fey Queen was disappointing in how it played out. I had hoped the author would have given Gwen a different way to resolve Pan's need to take her power, particularly with Olivia betraying Gwen.
Just released December 2016: "The Forgotten" volume 2 "Heir of the Heretic"
Reviewed and awarded the
2016 Indie Editor's Choice
by the Historical Novel Society.
Long listed for the Historical Novel Society 2017 Indie Award.
Goodreads profile at: https://www.goodreads.com/JElse