Peter Pan is a story that has recently transfixed me. Because while it can seem magical in some ways, there’s very distinctly a sense of darkness within. Starting with Darling by K. Ancrum, I knew I was intrigued. And then I saw Darling Girl and decided I wanted to read another Pan re-imagining.
Life is looking up for Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy–yes, that Wendy. She’s running a successful skincare company; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her . . . until she gets a call that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for nearly a decade, has gone missing from the estate where she’s been long tucked away. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.
Eden’s disappearance is a disaster for more reasons than one. She has a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly–ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up–which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. It’s a secret that Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden’s half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to–her mother is the only other person in the world who knows that Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he is not the hero she’s always imagined. Desperate, Holly enlists the help of Christopher Cooke, a notorious ex-soldier, in the hopes of rescuing Eden before it’s too late . . . or she may lose both her children.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: panic attacks, rape
Darling Girl is a story which builds upon the foundations of a story we might know. Michalski introduces suspense, danger, and mystery with each passing page. Holly lives in a world that owes homage to Peter’s legacy, while also hiding this dangerous secret. And her own life is not free of secrets. For the first half of the story, I was engrossed in the mystery. Wondering what secrets Holly has been keeping.
Yet as Darling Girl progressed, the suspense only increased and the danger became real. The pieces begin to click and the hidden truths they conceal are revealed. So many of my notes are just me being shocked at the series of events. But throughout Darling Girl, Michalski ends up telling a story revolving around family and parenthood. Whether there’s a piece of us that wants to keep our loved ones protected, safe, and our kids innocent.
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But we all grow up. Darling Girl is unafraid to expose the manipulations, the darkness. The ways we can think we are protecting the ones we love. However it couldn’t be further from the truth. These elements come together into something sinister in a story that will keep you reading. I had a hard time connecting with Holly – mostly because she’s carrying all these secrets – and so it took a while for me to understand her. Darling Girl is a story that revolves around love, family and sacrifice. How they can surprise us, will rally around us and support us, and who we love even when they don’t. Find Darling Girl on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookhop.org & The Book Depository.