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Darling: 07/19/21

Darling by K. Ancrum

2021 seems to be the year of the Peter Pan pastiche. First there was Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas. Now there is Darling by K. Ancrum. In October there will be Tink and Wendy by Kelly Ann Jacobson.

Darling is set in Chicago. The Darlings have moved into a fixer upper, one that has a broken window latch in Wendy's room. Interestingly, Wendy is once again an only child, though for different reasons than in Thomas's novel. The set up is otherwise identical to the source material with Peter first appearing in Wendy's bedroom.

While the opening chapters set up expectations for fantasy, Darling is grounded in reality. The roadmarks and landscape and characters of Neverland are mapped onto Chicago in a way that reminds of the The Wiz (1978) and its relationship to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). The way Barrie's novel is used as a skin for what's essentially a YA thriller gives Darling a Dark City (1998) feel.

The Peter Pan story seems to be inspiring dark interpretations. Both Thomas's and Ancrum's novels equate Peter with death. The first instance of Peter as a harbinger of death I can think of, though, is the Peter Pan arc in Once Upon a Time which began in the 2013 season and completed in the 2016 season.

Darling also happens to sit on the road narrative spectrum. Wendy and the Lost Boys (though they aren't called this in the novel) collectively count as marginalized travelers (66). They are all at the whim of Peter. Their journey through the Neverland landmarks is actually the city of Chicago (00). Their route is primarily along the subway and train lines (00). Summarized, Darling is the tale of marginalized travels going through the city via the railroad (660000).

Five stars

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