New Read: Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars

Wendy Darling

After loving her previous novels, I immediately snapped up a copy of Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars by Colleen Oakes, the start of her new, young adult series inspired by J M Barrie’s Neverland. Sadly however this book languished for too long on my Kindle until the 10 Books of Summer challenge finally gave me that push I needed to pick it up.

Wendy Darling and her brothers are part of a wealthy family who live a comfortable and conventional life in a town house in London. One clear, starry night their world is to be turned upside down when they are visited by a wild, magical boy, Peter Pan. Who, with the promise of adventures, lures them out of the nursery window and up, up away into the stars and on to Neverland! A magical land of turquoise seas, beautiful beaches, mermaids, pirates and the freedom of life as a Lost Boy. Wendy finds herself intoxicated by the place and Peter, and yet she is plagued with misty memories of home and an annoying sense that all is not as it appears.

I liked how Colleen Oakes, the author, has chosen to tell her re-imagining of Neverland from the point-of-view of Wendy. A young lady, who at the start of the story, is sad about growing up but is also excited by the prospect of love and womanhood. At this hormonal time Wendy easily falls for this beautiful, wild boy who flies through her window without much thought for consequences. I often wanted to give her a jolly good shake for her naivety and emotional weakness however she is a kind character with potential; I hope to see her develop further. Wendy is joined by her brothers: the adorable Michael and the thoroughly dislikeable John, both are completely  immersed in life on Pan Island and do not share any of Wendy’s misgivings.

While I didn’t particularly always ‘like’ the characters I did find that Colleen Oakes re-imagined classic and new characters are realistic and much better fleshed out than in the J M Barrie’s original tale. I also loved being able to delve deeper into the settings too. While I’m not sure I totally bought Oakes’ Edwardian London – I was completely blown away by her description of Neverland. I really could imagine the turquoise seas, sandy beaches, towering peaks, humid jungle, sinister Skull Rock, and the giant, sprawling tree that constitutes Pan Island.

Previously I have read and loved two of Oakes’ previous novels: Volume 1 and Volume 2 of her young adult series Queen of Hearts which is a re-imagining of Lewis Carol’s Wonderland. I enjoyed them so much that they both made it on to my Top 10 Books of 2014. So my expectations were perhaps too high for this new series, Wendy Darling. This first book in the series was again well written, detailed and imaginative however I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous books/series. I think that was simply down to the characters though – which is just my personal taste and not any reflection on the quality of writing or story.

Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars is an enjoyable fantasy adventure in an expanded, detailed and magical re-imagining of Neverland. I am looking forward to reading Volume 2: Seas to see how the characters develop. Good read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other books inspired by Peter Pan and Neverland?

10 Books of Summer – 5/10

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8 thoughts on “New Read: Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars

  1. That sounds like a delightful read overall. Barrie’s novel hasn’t been a particular favourite of mine, but I do love retellings, so I might give this a try anyhow!

  2. I once read an utterly horrid short story based on Peter and Wendy with a really sick ending. Can’t remember the author now or the name of the story, but unfortunately the details of that ending are etched into my brain for ever. It’s kinda spoiled the original for me now. I do think that if authors are going to borrow characters they have a responsibility not to destroy the magic – although you weren’t blown away by this one, it sounds as if the author has tried to stay true to the spirit, so kudos to her for that!

    1. FictionFan, I am sorry to hear you had a horrible experience with a Peter and Wendy short story. I think in this book Oakes’ has made changes and fleshed the characters out more, but I did feel she kept within believable realms and, as you said, stayed true to the spirit.

  3. Pleased to see you’re still enjoying this author and look forward to your review for Volume 2. I think these books sound like something I would like so I’ll probably add to my wishlist and see if I can cram them in at some point.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Thank you Lynn – I am looking forward to reading Volume 2 and I am also really hoping Volume 3 of Queen of Hearts comes out soon!! If you are able to get your hands on these books they are pretty short so should be easy to squeeze in 🙂

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