I really loved Aiden’s debut Cemetery Boys and so was instantly intrigued to see how he would tackle the classic tale of Peter Pan, one that we all know and love. From the excerpt I read via a Netgalley sampler, I was hooked by Wendy’s voice and the promise of a deep delve into the effects of trauma through a compelling mystery. Aiden’s trademark distinctive characters were stronger than ever for me.
Luckily for me, the amazing Kelsey Marrujo at Macmillan granted my request for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
When children go missing in the small coastal town of Astoria, people look to Wendy for answers.
It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.
Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.
TW: grief, trauma, loss of a loved one, kidnapping, anxiety, shooting, child death, child abduction
Lost in the Never Woods is a hauntingly beautiful, quietly devastating YA mystery and Peter Pan retelling that sits heavy on your heart.
As with Cemetery Boys, I couldn’t help but stop and stare with wonder at Thomas’ writing. This is an intricate, intimate story that ebbs and flows with such heart. The writing flows so easily, making for purely compulsive reading, as you get lost in this dark and dangerous world. Certainly, this is not the Neverland you think you know. I really appreciated how clever Thomas was with the retelling of Peter Pan. The elements that form the core of the original are kept, but fresh life is breathed into them through a more psychological exploration of the lasting effects it may have upon you. Peter himself is an exuberant embodiment of childhood imagination and so much more, which Thomas acknowledges and uses to create a three-dimension, ethereal and slightly unknowable figure that seems to carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders.
The plot revolves around a gripping mystery element with the missing children. Hanging over it all is the question of what really happened on that fateful night so many years ago. I don’t want to give anything away, as this is a book that you should go into knowing very little, but it does provide plenty of intriguing twists and turns that had me speculating and questioning every detail. At its core, this book is a stunning exploration of grief and trauma. It doesn’t suggest an easy route, but it does offer light and hope beyond the twisted macabre of the current environment. It is deeply emotional and universal in its themes, giving a nod to the heart-wrenching origins of its inspiration. The ending is simply exquisite.
Lost in the Never Woods is a spell-binding and unique reinterpretation of a beloved children’s tale, given a dark edge that turns into an introspective and emotionally stunning story.