Imagine if Peter Pan were real. Imagine ‘All Darling Children’ had been abducted by a boy who refuse to grow up. Imagine a very dark place called Neverland where you can only leave if Peter lets you and that never happens.
The grim new novel by Katrina Monroe about the eternal child will make you feel very differently and very non-Disney about the land where pirates, lost boys and Red Indians roam.
Madge is fourteen. She very definitely wants to grow up. Living with her repressive grandmother, she seizes every chance to run away and find her mother in the city. She is caught every time until, one day, her grandmother has a heart-attack. Madge is brought home by her Uncle Michael but he’s got a few problems of her own and she escapes his custody only to be taken by Pan to Neverland. Peter Pan tells her that her mother Jane is there so how can Madge resist the fairydust and flight to another world.
All is not well in the land where no one ever grows up or changes. Madge quickly realises the horror of the Lost Boys existence and how Pan orders their lives or deaths. The once proud pirate Captain Hook has been reduced to a shadow of his former self, a mourning spirit with little chance to influence the world and only accompanied by first mate, Smee. Proud Tiger Lily tries to keep the Red Men safe from Pan’s desire for complete dominance. This ain’t no fairy tale!
‘All Darling Children’ is a great, focused story on the helplessness of being a child where the grown-ups are in charge just because they are older not wiser. When Madge escapes, she is running into growing up and making decisions over life and death. She becomes the grown-up and must deal with the consequences. Peter has no redeeming features and the depiction of Neverland is as a harsh and unforgiving place. There is no joy in this eternal childhood. Much more ‘Lord Of The Flies’ than a delightful island escape. With quite powerful themes, this book is an intense look at the inherent dangers of the man-child and a good adventure story. I can see why Peter’s mum locked the window now.
(pub: Red Adept Publishing, 2016. 202 page paperback. Price: £10.44 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-94021-578-5)
check out website: http://redadeptpublishing.com/