Jun 14, 2021

ARC Review--Darling by K. Ancrum


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.


I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

K. Ancrum's take on Peter Pan is a modern, gritty thriller called Darling that manages to pull in many aspects of the beloved fairy tale and still manage to take it to new heights with a chilling edge! I love fairy tale retellings and Peter Pan is one of my favorite ones to read again and again, I quite like Ancrum's spin on things and still having many nods to the classic tale.

Wendy Darling just moved with her parents to Chicago for a new change on life. Wendy is about to be a senior in high school and as she's ready to start her life at college in the coming year, her parents are looking to adopt a younger teenager as well, hence the need for more space. Things are perfectly normal at first. Though Wendy is concerned with her broken bedroom window that never seems to stay closed for some reason.

Before her boxes are even unpacked, Wendy encounters an intruder in her room. A young boy, around her age or so, named Peter. He had broken into her room in order to be "re-compensated" for his jacket sleeve that was torn off by her Saint Bernard, Nana. Wendy as the perfect reaction to this teenager breaking into her room and yet instead of trying to call the police, she offers to sew his jacket sleeve back on if he just leaves. He does, but then before leaving invites her to a party he's going to go to, and for whatever reason, Wendy accepts.

Before the party she meets his best friend, Tinkerbelle, who was waiting outside for him and it taken back to their place where she meets an array of lost boys. You'll note that many of then have familiar names from the classic Barrie tale. Tinkerbelle tries to give Wendy a mysterious warning that not all is what it seems and she'd be better off staying back in her room at home, but it's too late for that and she tries to tell Wendy to stick close to her. 

Wendy soon discovers that Peter is just a bit more dangerous than she anticipated. He's a boy with many secrets and if she's not careful she'll find herself entangled in his web.

I positively loved how this book was set up. You have your daring boy named Peter, his best friend is named Tinkerbelle, the cop who is always trying to catch him for his petty crimes is Detective Hook, Peter pays a mystery man he calls Crocodile to keep Hook off his tail...it's amazing! There's no flying, sadly or pixie dust, but there's still many other elements of the original fairy tale that you will see modernized.

Though one thing that baffled me was that in the beginning, Wendy clearly mentions how Barrie's tale is a family joke, that her parents named her Wendy specifically because of their surname. And yet, it's like once she meets Peter and Tinkerbelle...everything about the fairy tale is forgotten. I mean, when she spent a few sentences discussing it, you'd think it had some meaning to her and her family, but once she starts actually living the story, it's like it never existed. For some reason that always irritates me. You have a modern setting, she clearly mentions the fairy tale being a family joke...and yet meeting Peter, Tinkerbelle, detective Hook, the Crocodile...and nothing clicks home to her.

The thrilling edge took a bit to come into play. For the most part it was Wendy following Peter and Tinkerbelle and meeting other friends of theirs who are motley crew of boys and one other girl who I suspect might have been Tiger Lily since she was one of the only other girls in the Peter Pan story. You never really knew what they were meant to be doing other than going to a party, but they encounter quite a few delays that are reminiscent of sword fights with pirates.

The twist came about 3/4 into the story when we get a huge jawdropper, like we're talking jaw unhinged and fell on the floor-dropper. It took me completely by surprise and it was one that was quite sinister in nature. But it kind of fit with the story, it made you think back on things and realize the connections, the hints that were being dropped so early on.

There was a bit of light romance in this one too. It's not what you would expect either, but it wasn't over the top and was only one or two moments really. Which again, I would say is fitting since the original fairy tale didn't have romance in at all since Peter was just a boy. It kind of came in as an after thought almost if you think about it in that way. Most YA books these days have some kind of romance happening in the background, and now that I think of it, there was also another couple coming together on the side of things. So there's some cute romance to the story, it's just not a focal part, which I did enjoy.

The ending was pretty satisfying in some respect. I could've done without the epilogue though to be honest. I mean, you could kind of infer what was about to happen, yet the epilogue gets tossed in there and it doesn't add to the story at all. What made it worst was the story literally ends on a negative note and that just left a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, it wasn't a "bad" moment, just what you could almost call "typical teen." I just felt like it wasn't necessary to end it with such a harsh line when things could've easily ended on the last chapter versus this epilogue.

Despite a few hangups and maybe a slightly slower pace than I would've preferred, but again I will liken it of a sort to Barrie's tale which didn't have a whole lot of momentum in moving forward at a decent pace. It didn't bother me so much, but I guess I would've like to known some sort of endgame a little earlier on instead of right before it all ends. 

Darling is a fresh and edgy take on the beloved classic fairy tale! I never thought I'd see the day when a fairy tale gets turned into a thriller. If you're looking to see that kind of edgy, gritty tale, then this is definitely one you'll want to pick up asap!

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

Darling releases June 22, 2021

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