Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan
Author: Liz Michalski
Released: May 3, 2022
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Rape, drug abuse/overdose, kidnapping, child injury, child death, coma
Darling Girl is the latest in a series of retellings of Peter Pan. I’ve read a few of them and went into Darling Girl with high hopes. Written by Liz Michalski, this retelling decides to focus more on the Darling girls that make it all possible.
Holly Darling is one of the famous Darling girls. She’s the granddaughter of the one and only Wendy Darling. The one from the famous Peter Pan story. It turns out that not everything her grandmother told was a fantasy. Much of it is based on the truth.
A fact that Holly knows all too well. She’s worked hard to build a reputation and business for herself – a skincare company with her at the face of it all. Yet that all risks are coming down thanks to one fateful phone call. Holly’s daughter is missing. A daughter that the world doesn’t know about. To save her daughter, Holly will have to handle this personally.
“Time stopped for Holly the day of the car crash. She’s been defying death, defying time, for all these years & she’s not going to stop now.”
As I mentioned above, I had pretty high hopes for Darling Girl. I personally really like darker retellings. That’s true for Peter Pan as well (though my favorites were all set in Neverland, as opposed to our world). Ultimately, I was a little disappointed with Darling Girl, though I’ll admit that it was still an intriguing read.
Holly’s story is far from clear, with the character and the author working hard to obfuscate the truth from us at every turn. As such, it took me a while to piece together the whole of her story. I’ll admit that intrigue alone was enough to keep me reading for most of the book.
Likewise, her backstory is fairly bleak, having lost a husband and one child years prior. Still, she has two children and a successful business. The world only knows about one of the two children. However, I’ll confess that despite all of this, I didn’t like Holly. Or her mother…or any of the characters we got to know, for that matter. That may be part of the problem.
Moving on to other plot points, I was surprised by the focus on skincare and drugs in this book. In a way, it makes a certain level of sense. In another, it’s still such a surprising twist. I’m still not sure how I feel about all of it.
Overall, I think that Darling Girl had a lot of potential. There were points where I enjoyed the book and points where I felt a little bit let down. It’s still probably worth the read, especially for curious people.