Title: Darling Girl
Author: Liz Michalski
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: May 3, 2022
In this beautiful, grounded, and darkly magical modern-day reimagining of J. M. Barrie’s classic, to save her daughter’s life one woman must take on the infamous Peter Pan–who is not the innocent adventurer the fairy tales make him out to be . . .
Life is looking up for Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy–yes, that Wendy. She’s running a successful skincare company; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her . . . until she gets a call that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for nearly a decade, has gone missing from the estate where she’s been long tucked away. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.
Eden’s disappearance is a disaster for more reasons than one. She has a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly–ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up–which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. It’s a secret that Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden’s half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to–her mother is the only other person in the world who knows that Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he is not the hero she’s always imagined. Desperate, Holly enlists the help of Christopher Cooke, a notorious ex-soldier, in the hopes of rescuing Eden before it’s too late . . . or she may lose both her children.
Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.
Holly Darling is the granddaughter of Wendy Darling, who travelled with Peter Pan a hundred years ago. The story made the Darling family famous, but only they know that it was a true story. Holly has experienced many tragedies, including losing her husband and son in a car accident. Her remaining son is happy and healthy, but that’s come at a cost. One day, Holly gets a call that her daughter has gone missing from her home in Cornwall. Her daughter, Eden, has been in a coma for ten years, and has a rare condition that causes her to age quickly so she looks much older than her thirteen years. The problem is that Eden is a secret. Holly hasn’t told her friends or even her son that Eden exists. Holly returns to her childhood home, enlisting an ex-soldier, Christopher Cooke, to find her daughter before Peter Pan returns to their lives.
I tried to read the original Peter Pan story a year ago but I couldn’t get into it. I watched the movies when I was a kid so I know the story. I really enjoyed this book. It would be helpful for readers to have some familiarity with the story, because many of the characters were referenced, but it was a very different kind of story.
This story took a dark turn that I wasn’t expecting. It was unusual that Holly kept her ill daughter a secret from everyone who was close to her, so that was a hint that this wouldn’t have the same fairytale feeling as Peter Pan. Some of the dark scenes included drug abuse, drug overdose, kidnapping, and rape. These intense scenes took away the innocence of the original story and made it more mature.
Dating Girl is a dark twist on Peter Pan.
Thank you Wunderkind PR and Dutton for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Have you read Darling Girl? What did you think of it?