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Darling Girl by Liz Michalski
Fantasy

Darling Girl

by Liz Michalski

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Quick take

Revealing dreams as nightmares, this gripping Peter Pan rewrite reveals a complicated story of fate and fortune.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Action

    Action-packed

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Puzzle

    Puzzle

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic

Synopsis

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.

Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.

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Content warning

This book contains a scene that depicts sexual assault.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Darling Girl.
Darling Girl

Prologue

In a very tall tree sits a girl. The tree is perhaps fifty feet high, and the girl rests with her back nestled against its trunk. If a person passed beneath the tree and looked up, it is unlikely they would see her. The color of her dress blends perfectly with the leaves around her. Her face is pale, as if the sun has not touched it in days.

The girl swipes a hand across her nose. A bee is buzzing somewhere. She has been in this tree for a long time, much longer than anyone would believe possible. Her arms and legs are stiff, and there are bruises on them; she can tell by the way they hurt. A tear slips from her right eye and she catches at a fragment of memory. Once, she sat in a tree with someone whose eyes were the exact shade of the sky. She wore a blue dress, one that brought out the color in her own eyes. A blue silk ribbon tied back her hair. When the boy told her she could fly, she laughed.

“Of course you can, silly,” he had said. “How do you think we got up here in the first place?”

She remembers the crack of the branch when she stood, the way the cool air spun up through her dress, rushed across her skin. It had felt so good. She wants to feel that way again, not like the broken thing she is now. She remembers the boy’s instructions. He’d recited them from the storybook, the one she’d been reading to him. The one their mother didn’t like.

“Don’t look down,” he’d said. “And don’t doubt. The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”

A second voice had echoed him, tiny and excited, like the tinkling of golden bells.

Now she hears those bells again. She stands up on the branch, edges away from the trunk while keeping one hand on it. Bounces gently on her toes, like a diver at the edge of the board. Now that it’s come to the moment, she’s afraid. But if she stays much longer, she’ll never get down from the tree. She won’t be able to. She may even become a part of it.

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Why I love it

“The stories keep the shadows away. Most of the time.”

The boy in the green tights. The fairy with that special sparkle. Lost boys. Peter Pan is one of those stories so successful it has passed into myth and sometimes can feel seared into the popular imagination. But how well do we know this story really? In her by turns propulsive and enchanting new novel Darling Girl, Liz Michalski surprised me on nearly every page. This isn’t your mom’s Peter Pan. No, this is a much deeper and darker tale—but just as entertaining as the original.

Holly Darling is the granddaughter of the famous Wendy. In the years since her family’s first encounters with Neverland, the Darlings have become fabulously famous and wealthy. Holly has tried to keep her children far from the limelight and her past, believing it is essential to protect them. She is the successful founder of a biotech company, which she started to find a cure for her daughter’s mysterious illness bestowed to her by her father, whose identity only she knows. There are twists aplenty here, with all the classic cast members of the Peter Pan universe present but in completely reimagined ways. But it is all propelled forward by the desperate power of a mother’s love. I was gripped to my chair as I watched Holly fight desperately to keep her children safe from the darkness brought to Earth from Neverland. Who can she trust?

I cannot recommend Darling Girl highly enough. It’s one of my favorite reads in recent memory. A feminist rewrite of a classic story I already held near and dear. Add it to your box and buckle up for a truly magical and wild ride!

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Member ratings (30,204)

  • Tami R.

    Decatur, IL

    When I started reading, I was sure that it was going to be the tell-old story but I loved the twist on the old fairy tale. It proves a child’s perspective is often skewed from reality. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Jamie G.

    Deerfield, IL

    Different than anything I’ve read but I absolutely loved it. It was magical (and dark) and I could not put it down. Incredible interpretation / retelling of a fairy tale. Highly recommend! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Kayla J.

    Bay City, MI

    I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book but I loved it! The ending was something I didn’t see coming at all. The message at the end was a beautiful tale of family and growing up. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Taylor M.

    Tampa, FL

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was the perfect blend of fairytale and the crushing reality of the world we live in. The next generation of Darlings teach us how if you ignore the past it, history may repeat

  • Robert S.

    Bellevue, WA

    Absolutely amazing story. It’s so insane and unhinged. It’s nothing like you’d expect. It’s so dark but in an amazing way I couldn’t put it down. It’s interesting from the very start and ends well too

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