Book Review: All Darling Children by Katrina Monroe

 
 
Madge has been raised by her Grandma Wendy since she was a child, always told that her mother died in an accident, but Madge is certain her mother is alive and is determined to find her. When a boy named Peter Pan shows up one night offering to bring Madge to her mother, she goes with him to Neverland where she discovers more about her family than she ever imagined and comes to realize the havoc Peter has wrought upon them all.
 

 
Book Review: All Darling Children by Katrina Monroe | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, retellings, Peter Pan
Title: All Darling Children
Author:
Pages: 217
My Book Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

The author and I must’ve had very similar thoughts while reading Peter Pan because this book was exactly what I have been wanting from a Peter Pan inspired story. To be fair, this was the first book inspired by the original that I’ve ever read, but to also be fair, most of the ones I’ve come across are all “Peter is awesome!” and seem to be based on the Disney version, and that’s not what I want to read.

See, I was shocked when I read Peter Pan for the first time by how terrifying Peter’s character was. The original story has a lot of darkness in it, and Peter does horrible things, like maim and kill his own boys, so I loved that Katrina Monroe actually used the darker side of Peter’s character for her version of him and referenced a lot of those horrifying things.

Also awesome was that Hook was a good guy! Well, kind of. He was still a pirate who probably did plenty of bad things in his time, but even he didn’t condone the slaughter of innocents just for fun. I loved his character in the original, so it made me happy to see he wasn’t villainized, even though he didn’t play very much of a part this time. I also liked how the author stayed true to the story by *SPOILER ALERT (not for this book, but for the original)* making Hook a ghost, since this one took place after he was killed. *END SPOILER ALERT*

Another great thing, Madge had a much more realistic and suitable reaction to a strange boy showing up and talking about flying and pixie dust and Neverland than Wendy did. She thought he was just a whackadoo and wanted him to leave her alone. And then her happy thoughts (since you need to think happy thoughts to fly) were about punching him lol.

Madge was, however, a little too mature, jaded, and street-smart for her age. It’s not entirely impossible for a 14-year-old to already know things about the horrors of the world, depending on their life, but I’m not sure her strictly sheltered life with her grandma would’ve given her that kind of knowledge. I also felt like the depths of the characters were never really explored, but that was something I could overlook since I don’t think that was really the point. It was more of a plot-driven book.

One other issue I had was that I noticed a few logic flaws. *SPOILER ALERT* (How did Hook help Madge get off of Skull Rock if he was incorporeal and incapable of touching anything? How did no one in the city notice a flying ship above their heads? How did the ship fly period, since Madge replaced Peter’s pixie dust with shell powder? Why did Jane go back and abandon Madge when she was the one who refused to let Wendy send her to an orphanage?) *END SPOILER ALERT*

One last thing to note, the author really didn’t romanticize anything in this book. Everything was very gritty and realistically disgusting and disturbing. Even though the protagonist is 14, this is not something I’d consider a YA book (and it’s not listed as one). That’s not a bad thing at all though, just something to take into consideration.

So to summarize, a dark story based on the original rather than the Disney version was what I wanted, and I’m happy to say that was exactly what I got!

 
 
Book Blurb

All boys grow up, except one.

On the tenth anniversary of her mother’s death, fourteen-year-old Madge Darling’s grandmother suffers a heart attack. With the overbearing Grandma Wendy in the hospital, Madge runs away to Chicago, intent on tracking down a woman she believes is actually her mother.

On her way to the Windy City, a boy named Peter Pan lures Madge to Neverland, a magical place where children can remain young forever. While Pan plays puppet master in a twisted game only he understands, Madge discovers the disturbing price of Peter Pan’s eternal youth.

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  1. Greg

    Ooh spooky cover. LOVE that with their eyes all glowing. I like the idea of this one, exploring the price of taking the “never grow up” thing. Too bad about the logic flaws, but it is interesting that it’s not YA but has the young protag. Course with this kinda story that makes sense I guess. I do like the dark take too- at this point if I were to read a Pan retelling or whatever, knowing what I know about the original now, I think I’d WANT a dark take. After all between the Lost Boys and freaky ass Pan and mermaids, Neverland would seem to have dark written all over it!

    “whackadoo” lol. After hearing so much about Peter he DOES sound whackadoo!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, the cover is such a fun creepy kinda cover! Didn’t love the logic flaws, but I did love the darkness. And it is always kind of interesting when a book has a young protag but isn’t YA. Freaky ass Pan, haha. I love it. It really does have dark written all over it though! That’s why I get so annoyed with the retellings that are all cute with a nice, fun Peter! I mean, ok, I liked Peter Darling lol, but that one just spun it really well.

      Whackadoo was just my word, but I’m glad you like it, haha.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I can’t stand the Disney version, but I do like the original Peter Pan book. If you like disgusting, disturbing, and gritty, then you probably would like this!

  2. Bookworm Brandee

    Woohoo! I’m so happy you found a Peter Pan-inspired book that was what you were wanting. And I love that Hook wasn’t as villain-y because I know you love him. ;) Madge thinking of punching Peter as her happy thoughts…yeah, I can get down with this girl. Really, who’s never been happy at the thought of punching someone?!? lol I do understand your issues with her being a bit too mature for her age and her upbringing though. But overall, this sounds like something I’d enjoy. :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I do love Hook ;-) Haha, I loved that that was her happy thought. I also would’ve wanted to punch him. The age thing was strange, but overall I still enjoyed the book!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I do like retellings, I just hate that so many of the Peter Pan ones are based on the Disney version, and I can’t stand the Disney version. So I loved that was darker. Thanks!

  3. Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers.

    Oooo…The cover is so creepy!! And I’ve actually not properly read the original but I’ve heard how it’s really dark! And while I adore the sweet Disney version I want more of the dark one! This book sounds wonderful. I think not villainizing Hook and making Peter dark is awesome cause that gives a lot of grey areas. Things aren’t good and evil and black and white and that’s so much more interesting to read about :) Great review!

    Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers. recently posted: Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s such a fun, creepy cover, right? The original definitely has lots of darkness, so I love that this book used that. I actually can’t stand the Disney version lol. But in the original, Hook really wasn’t any worse than Peter. Like, they both killed their own people and everything, so it already wasn’t black and white. Thanks!

  4. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Okay, firstly, are you doing a Peter Pan read-a-thon? ;)

    I like the sound of this one, but I’m a little apprehensive about a 14yo that is acts like Madge does… Maybe I’m romanticising things now, but I prefer my 14yo characters with a little more innocence or at least to start the book off in that manner…

    I’m glad that this one took all the thoughts you had about Peter and seemed to expand on them, and I’m glad you got the darkness and the grittiness that you were looking for!

    Di @ Book Reviews by Di recently posted: Review: The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lmao I got this book a while ago actually, but I decided to post my Peter Pan review and this review around the same time, but then Peter Darling randomly appeared out of nowhere and it just happened to be right around the same time I was posting these, haha. That’s ok, I also saw one Hook book for review on Edelweiss and a different Hook book on NetGalley. There’s like some weird Peter Pan thing going on in the universe right now lol.

      Yeah, the age just didn’t seem quite realistic, but I definitely liked that it used all that darkness from the original! Thanks :-)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly! I’m so tired of books retelling the Disney versions. The originals are so much darker, and I love retellings that reflect that. Peter Pan in the original was terrifying, and Hook really wasn’t any worse than Peter. So I like books that stay true to that! Thanks!

  5. sjhigbee

    Ooo… this sounds like one for me – I’ve always loved the real Peter Pan story which I first read when I was 8 and have reread throughout my life. Can’t recall the scene where Peter maims one of the Lost Boys – though there is no doubt that Neverland has a dark, dangerous side, which Disney coated with lots of sentiment. Thank you for the review, Kristen.

    sjhigbee recently posted: While the Morning Stars Sing

    1. Kristen Burns

      There’s no scene, but there’s a part where it says that, instead of opening the holes of the trees that lead to their den if someone doesn’t fit, he instead adjusts the boys. But if you want a really dark version, then you might enjoy this!

  6. Lola

    That’s great you found a Peter Pan retelling that was what you’re looking for, with the darker side of Peter his character. I can’t remember a lot of Peter Pan, it never was one of my favorite movies, but I didn’t realize the original story was so much darker. Then again a lot of Disney stories seem way more cheerful and happy than the original ones, so that doesn’t surprise me too much.

    And neat that Hook wasn’t a villain in this one. So Hook was a sort of nice guy in the original story? I wonder why Disney made him the villain. That sounds great how Madge had a realistic reaction to Peter Pan. Although that’s a bit strange she had so much street smarts while she had led a mostly sheltered life. As I know how much you like the darker and grittier stuff, it sounds like the book was exactly what you liked in that part. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I wouldn’t say Hook was a good guy in the original, but he wasn’t any worse than Peter. He was just the villain because Peter was the hero. If the story had been focused on Hook, it could’ve just as easily been switched. But I like Hook and think he’s super interesting.

      I did love Madge’s reaction to Peter, but yeah, the street smarts were just a bit too much for her age I thought. Thanks!