Review: Darling by K. Ancrum

Posted April 25, 2022 by Angie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

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Review: Darling by K. AncrumDarling by K. Ancrum
Published by Imprint on June 22, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ, Young Adult Fiction
Format: eBook (288 pages)
Source: Library
Purchase: AmazonIndieBound
Add Book: GoodreadsBookhype

A teen girl finds herself lost on a dangerous adventure in this YA thriller by the acclaimed author of The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars—reimagining Peter Pan for today’s world.

On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful—so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.

Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends—a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies—the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night—and make sure everyone else does, too?

Acclaimed author K. Ancrum has re-envisioned Peter Pan with a central twist that will send all your previous memories of J. M. Barrie’s classic permanently off to Neverland.


Proceed With Caution:

This book contains kidnapping, murder, and dismemberment.

The Basics:

Darling is a contemporary retelling of Peter Pan with the characters transplanted to modern day Chicago. Wendy Darling and her family have just moved in when someone breaks into Wendy’s bedroom while her parents out. Turns out, it’s an attractive boy named Peter who invites Wendy out for a night on the town. Tinkerbelle is with him and warns Wendy to stay home, but of course, she doesn’t listen. If only she had.

My Thoughts:

I am very conflicted on my feelings for Darling. I was very excited to read it because it sounded like a fresh take on the original. However, I was just not into it for the most part. I honestly hate retellings that use the original character names if set in the real world. The book must not exist in this world for it to work, which always bothers me to no end. In fact, someone mentions that Wendy must be named after the restaurant. Nice try.

At first, I did think I was going to fully enjoy Darling. I mean, we have a Black Wendy! But that doesn’t play into the story much, if at all. It did start to lose me early on though because Wendy and Peter’s meeting was the stupidest thing I had ever read. He had broken into the house, thinking it was empty, but was promptly attacked by Nana, who rips his jacket’s sleeve off. He returns the following night and is surprised that Wendy is there because the house was empty. Obviously, it’s not empty anymore as he saw the night before when he had a tussle with the dog! Unfortunately, this is only the first of several things that make no sense.

From there, Darling uses one of my favorite storytelling devices ever: one night. Everything takes place on that one night, and it is a wild night. I actually didn’t like most of Wendy and Peter’s night out together. It was chaotic, not in a good way. I didn’t believe that Wendy would continue following him around town when he was clearly not taking her straight to the party he promised. She threatens to go home several times, and has opportunity to, yet still gets strung along. She isn’t having fun at all! She’s just worrying and mad the entire time! That was not fun to read.

Eventually, the truth about Peter comes out and it is sooo good! I loved this twist. It was absolutely brilliant. It was just revealed in the most mundane, boring manner ever. One giant info-dump. Instead of the villain monologuing about what they’re up to, Detective Hook sets the scene and explains why he’s been after the slippery Pan for so long. And now that he has his hands on Wendy, his plan for capture just might work.

Detective Hook tells Wendy everything he knows about Peter and what his plan has been for the past several months and I just let out a big ol’ “huh?” Is this how police investigations involving children work? I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t know anything about it, but this seemed highly sketchy. Not that I think cops are always on the up-and-up and do everything by the books, or that the books are even the best way, but this just seemed dangerous and negligent. It pulled me back out of the story, even though his plan does work.

In the end, Darling just left me…confused. I’ve always hated the character of Peter Pan, so I absolutely loved this version of him. It was very fitting. It’s just that the way the story unfolded was a mess. I had a hard time believing any of the characters’ decisions. It seemed like the author had an excellent premise and wanted to run with it, but didn’t quite know how to put it all together.

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