Death in Neverland
by Heather C. Myers
YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
In the Neverland, people don’t grow up. Because they’re dead.
Remy Cutler dies, and somehow escapes certain death. She returns to the land of the living with nothing but a ripped gown and a fear of heights.
She plans to escape her arranged marriage by stowing away onto a ship in hopes to leave her home with no one none knowing. However, she is found out, and the sailors aren’t happy. Before any damage can be done, she is yanked from her predicament back to The Neverland, a place where death resides – the very place she escaped from years ago. Souls are ferried by her savior. To her, he’s known as Nick, but to The Neverland, he’s the slippery Nicholas Grey.
The more time Remy spends with Nick and his crew, however, the more she realizes he’s shockingly misunderstood. Pirates aren’t all bad the way gentleman aren’t all good. One such gentleman goes by the name of Peter, and he has nothing but power on his mind and revenge against Grey in his heart. And then there are those that are completely indiscernible, like James Hook, a Viking and ruler of The Other World, whose sole ambition is attaining more souls to rule over, no matter what the cost.
This dark retelling of Peter Pan infuses familiar characters created by J. M. Barrie with new characters and Greek mythology. It is the first in a trilogy.
With 'Neverland', obviously Peter Pan and his adventures dance at the forefront of the mind. And in a way, this is a retelling of that beloved tale. There is a Pan. There is a Hook. And there is even a Neverland. And that's where the similarities end, letting an exciting ride into the Underworld and piracy begin.
Remy is the daughter of a rich family, living in the middle of England's trade era when pirates and the Queen's fleets were at their prime. Her life is splendid, and she's the perfect daughter as well. The marriage to the perfect man will make it complete. If it hadn't been for her death a couple years before, which has set the ideas of freedom into her mind, she might have been satisfied. But she isn't and runs away. Her adventures take her by her petticoats and spin her into a fantastic world, where she is completely transformed as she learns who she really wants to be. In other words, this is a character driven tale in which even the character surprises herself.
My favorite thing about this story (besides pirates and open soul seas) are the details. Each character is given a close description, bringing them to life. But the most impressive are the scenes. Every room, every place is given a detailed personality, not in a wordy, overly descriptive way, but tiny details are thrown in here and there to add just the right touch. It made it easy to sink into the world with every sense.
The characters in this are vibrant, each having their very own personality. Remy is well done, naive and impregnated by her up-bringing in ways she never realized herself. Her desire to be humble, fit in and extreme kindness are there, but she runs into 'flaws' she never realized were such before and has to work to overcome them. Luckily, the pirate, Nick, is at her side--a wonderful cad with so many thorns of his own that he's a sheer delight. The rest of the crew is as colorful as a rainbow.
The 'bad' guys are not clear cut as the Underworld is multi-layered in its very own way. The politics, schemes and power plays add a wonderful dimension to the plot, giving it the perfect depth for a great series. It's never clear who can be trusted or if anyone at all. And even the biggest player is shrouded in so much mystery that its impossible to predict where all of this will go as the series continues.
I was caught up in the story and didn't want to put it down. The plot grabbed and the characters were easy to befriend. This would have be a sheer winner for me if it hadn't been for a couple tiny frustrations. There were a couple of typos which grew thicker as the story continued, a problem which could have easily been avoided with tighter editing. And I was a total fan of this book until the last pages. The end was climactic and satisfying in that way (warning: it is a cliffhanger), but in the last pages a few things suddenly slid through that didn't seem to quite fit. A character advancement took a sudden turn, which left me disappointed after all the build up, and Remy's thoughts were dramatic and heroic but didn't make sense considering the information provided before and the situation. Despite my total love for the story all the way through, this last push made me flinch. Still, I did pre-order book 2.
Summed up: This is a treasure for adventure, pirates, romance and paranormal fans. The characters are vibrant, the scenes come to life and the plot is thick and exciting. Despite the hiccups at the end, if book two is anything like the rest of this story, it will definitely also be worth a read. In other words, I recommend it despite the tiny flaws.