Darling by K Ancrum

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 a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

Darling isn’t SFF, but with how much I adored Ancrum’s The Wicker King, I was curious to see where she’d take a modern Peter Pan retelling. Having read Darling, I can easily say Ancrum’s now on my author auto-buy list.

Darling follows the perspective of Wendy Darling, a young teenage black girl whose family has recent moved into the suburbs of Chicago chasing better schooling for their child. She’s personally looking forward to finally meeting face-to-face with her girlfriend Eleanor, who she first met online. All of this gets up-ended the night Peter crashes through her window and whisks her off through Chicago nightlife, determined to take her to a party in the city underground. Slowly, we meet Peter’s ex-girlfriend Tinkerbelle, his found family of teenage boys dubbed the Lost Boys, and the detective hunting Peter, Detective Hook.

I enjoyed the concise scope of this novel, a single night in the Chicago underground and how vivid a story Ancrum manages to tell with just that. From start to finish, the events of Darling are rapid and chaotic. Much like Wendy, we bounce from event to event, rarely with enough pause to catch a break before it’s on to the next adventure. It’s messy, chaotic storytelling and I loved that we the reader weren’t really given time to collect our thoughts and really process what’s happened. As the night progresses, there was a slow feeling of unease that gets built, mainly from the character interactions. Something’s clearly not right yet it’s hard to tell what. I won’t say more beyond that, but the plot twist in this book is really one of the best I’ve ever read. Truly a ‘holy shit!’ moment exclaimed out loud.

I was surprised by how much I liked these characters. Usually I’m not big on the ‘naive character getting led around’ archetype but Wendy has a strong resilience despite being in a totally foreign environment to the life she’s led up to now and I really liked that about her. Tinkerbelle is very cool and very badass and definitely one of my faves through this series. I also loved the rep in this series. Tons of queer characters, lots of racial diversity, and there’s even an ace guy! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book where a character straight up says they’re asexual and it was really refreshing.

Overall, I rate this a 4/5. While I’m not usually a contemp reader, Darling was a fantastic, fast-paced Peter Pan retelling with one hell of a plot twist!


Publication Date: 22 June 2021
Publisher: Imprint
Format: ARC, eBook
Pages: 288
Word Count: ~68,000
ISBN: 1250265290
Buy It Here: Amazon Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

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