by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
In this retelling of Peter Pan, Aiden Thomas's Lost in the Never Woods (Amazon | Bookshop.org), we meet Wendy Darling as she turns 18. We quickly learn that she and her brothers disappeared five years earlier, and she was found in the woods six months later without her brothers. She has no memory of what happened during that time. In the present, she works as a volunteer at the local hospital and spends a lot of time with the children there. The town has been shaken once again by the recent disappearances of two of the local children, bringing up the painful past for Wendy.
On her way home from her shift, shaken by the events and missing children, she sees a dark shadow land on her window and then finds a body in the road. The body belongs to none other than Peter Pan himself, whom Wendy knows from the stories her mother told them as children and the ones she went on to tell her brothers and the kids at the hospital, but who she does not believe to be a real person. Wendy can't fathom how he's there, but she quickly realizes that it's up to her and Peter, who has come all the way from Neverland, to figure out what is happening with the missing children, more of whom are disappearing daily.
Peter's endless kindness and genuine desire to help others is at the heart of this story. He recognizes the seriousness of the situation but never stops celebrating the light in the world. However, he also sees the darkness of the people around them.
“I think people are more frightening than the dark," he said. "A person can stand right in front of you and be dangerous without you even knowing it.”
I absolutely loved this dark exploration of the way that fear and secrets can cause destruction to everyone involved. Although I've always considered the original story of Peter Pan to be less ominous, Thomas does an amazing job of exploring the darker facets of the original story, capturing with perfection the underbelly lurking beneath the original tale.
“Shadows are made up of darkness. They feed off of sadness and despair. They manifest what you’re most scared of and use it as a weapon to feed off your fear.”
I love seeing the way this retelling both highlights the source material and explores a complex, mysterious story that is uniquely Thomas's own work. This is a perfect pick for the Unabridged Reading Challenge category that is a retelling of a classic. I shed quite a few tears as the mystery at the story's core unfolded, but I was captivated by Thomas's story and will be reading all of their work from now on! I listened to this one thanks to #partner Libro.fm and absolutely loved the audio!
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