eArc review copy provided by author.
An enjoyable follow up to the Neverland Wars. Picking up shortly after where the first book left off, Gwen is now back in Neverland with Peter Pan and her beloved sister Rosemary, ready to aid Peter in his quest to find the Pied Piper.
There was a lot more action in this second instalment, much more of an actual plot, than focusing on Gwen torn between wanting to hang on to her childhood or be a grown up. While there was certainly a huge issue with Gwen still struggling with this problem, there was nowhere near so much philosophical waxing and waning over it.
Peter needs the Piper’s help to formulate a plan that will stop the adults in Reality attacking Neverland. Gwen is sent back into Reality to team up with a now grown up friend of Peter who can help solve the clues to find the means of attracting the Piper’s attention.
Tiger Lily makes an appearance in this one, as a grown adult woman, with friends of other adult women who have left Neverland and grown up, but still remember Peter and the allure of Neverland itself. It’s interesting to see how they cope with Gwen’s appearance and her strange requests. Though it pulls Gwen back into reality and a life she’s not sure if she wants to give up or not. The women hold a “book club” and there’s one rather poignant scene where they’re discussing a romance novel, “Tryst on the Thames” and later Gwen finds a copy wants to know what it’s about, she’s old enough to understand, but the lady who comes to her aid, Dawn, says rather bluntly if she’s still flying about with Peter Pan she’s not old enough to be discussing romance novels.
Kind of a bitter sweet but apt point to illuminate Gwen’s awkward positon. Gwen finds herself going on a shopping trip and getting a new hairdo and these normal teenage things help give her flying the happy boost. Things that would give a normal girl a happy, not something someone deep in magic and Neverland should be that fussed about. Just more of the awkwardness of a teenager dealing with Neverland.
And being back in reality brings Gwen back in touch with her potential love interest from the first book, Jay. I actually really like Jay as a character, he listens to Gwen, he likes her, he doesn’t think she’s nuts when she explains her predicament to him. He’s a nice, decent guy and I can see why Gwen confides in him. I like the way their friendship develops and hints that there could be something more between them, but Gwen of course is torn with her duty to Neverland.
Gwen has some interesting friendship developments in this one, bringing her to see the sides of adults who have been to Neverland and grown up, and then the more magical side of friendships with the Lost Children and the fairies and Lasiandra the mermaid. The Piper himself is quite a dark and creepy character, and something of a jackass. (Though I also quite liked the Piper and the role he played later on in the novel). We also get to see some of the nastier side of the adults in reality and what they’re doing with the magic and beings stolen from Neverland.
Lots more action and some great character development on Gwen, though Peter Pan himself…I found him annoying really. An interesting ending, and I’m definitely looking forward to the final part in this trilogy.
Just as much fun as Harriet the Invincible.
I recently re-read the 12 Dancing Princess (which this story retells), and was struck by how, even though the story is named for the titular women, all of whom presumably have their own lives, the story really revolves around the guy who creeps on them trying to figure out where they go at night. The story is about him, not the cursed princesses.
In Vernon's version, Harriet stands in for the gardener who saves the day -- so while she still takes center stage, at least a story ostensibly about 12 women doesn't inadvertently end up being about one man. Also, the princesses in the story are given some real "page-time" and personalities and desires of their own, all of which are improvements over the original. Prose is funny and smart and artwork is charming.
This book was super fun -- a retelling of Sleeping Beauty featuring a sturdy, sassy princess who figures out how to use the curse to her advantage. It's funny and subversive without being heavy-handed, equally suited to be enjoyed by kids or adults. I love that Harriet acts like a REAL 12-year-old (even if she is a hamster :)), and of course, the artwork is exuberant and expressive. Will definitely keep reading this series, and would recommend them as read-alouds, too.
This series keeps disappointing me, but I keep reading it anyway. :p
In Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch, my main issue was that too much of the book was dedicated to non-canon characters. While that was also an issue in this book -- although to a lesser extent -- one of the things that annoyed me about this one was the way it tried to shoe-horn existing characters into parts of the story where they didn't really belong. I just had a lot of trouble buying that Gaston and Beast used to be friends, even if they did explain that the Beast had "forgotten" about these years after his transformation. A lot of how the prince/beast was portrayed in this book just didn't feel congruous with the one we know in the book, and his redemption seemed to happen too quickly and easily considering how awful Valentino had set him up to be prior to Belle's arrival. I did like the idea of the curse taking hold slowly rather than all at once, though.
Oh, and this book doesn't give a crap about the movie timeline ... as far as I can tell it takes place over a period of two years or so, rather than 10. And it doesn't address the oh-so-awkward issue of the prince being 11 when he is cursed -- he is in his teens (i.e., old enough to know better) in this version. That was just one more thing that made this interpretation feel sloppily done.