18 May 2022

Darling Girl by Liz Michalski Review!

DARLING GIRL (Dutton; 352 pages; $26.00 Hardcover; ISBN 978-0593185636) by Liz Michalski

In this beautiful, grounded, and darkly magical modern-day reimagining of J. M. Barrie's classic, to save her daughter's life one woman must take on the infamous Peter Pan--who is not the innocent adventurer the fairy tales make him out to be . . .

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.

DARLING GIRL is the first novel to take Peter Pan’s story into the realm of woman’s fiction, exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.
This beautiful, grounded, and magical modern-day reimagining of J. M. Barrie’s classic is sure to appeal to readers of Circe by Madeline Miller, Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar, and   Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

My Thoughts

Holly Darling is the granddaughter of Wendy Darling, yes that Darling as in Peter Pan. She is successful in her own right but has had a devasting past. She was happily married to Robert, but an accident takes the happiness away along with their son, twin to Jack. In another freak accident, or was it? Both her son Jack and daughter Eden fall out of a tree trying to fly. Jack is severely injured and Eden is in a coma. After 10 years, Eden disappears. How is that possible? No one knows but Holly is desperate to find her. 
In her search, she hires Christopher Cooke, an ex-soldier with his own baggage. 

When Jack goes missing also, Holly along with her mother Jane must do what they can to find the missing children. Eden is 13 but has a condition that makes her age prematurely and Jack has his own health issues. As Holly tries to find her children, she comes to the realization that Peter Pan is not who she thought he was, the stories handed down from her grandmother do not describe the Peter she has come to know. Did he take Eden and Jack? For what purpose? The ending will surprise you.

I knew of the story of Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinker Bell, and Neverland but this reimagination of the story is interesting, to say the least. You can't always believe what you are told as a child. Full of suspense, believable characters, and a storyline that can only be imagined. Can it?

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and read it in a few sittings. A truly magical story!
I received a copy for review purposes only.

About Liz Michalski

Liz Michalski is the author of  Evenfall and a contributor to Writer Unboxed, dubbed a “best of the best” website for writers by Writer’s Digest.  DARLING GIRL is her second novel. Liz also contributed to Author in Progress, a manual for aspiring writers. A former reporter and editor, Liz now crafts articles on human interest, living, and health as a freelance writer. She lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she loves reading fairy tales and sometimes, writing them.

Visit Liz on her website and socials! 
Website:     lizmichalski.com 
Twitter:      @MichalskiLiz 
Instagram:    @lizmichalskiauthor 
Facebook:      @author.LizMichalski

Advance Praise for DARLING GIRL

“A fascinating contemporary drama which dives deeply into themes of aging, generational trauma, and the things parents are willing to do for—or to—their children...This dark, magical tale is sure to win fans.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A compelling and richly imagined twist on an old story, Liz Michalski’s     Darling Girl captured me on page one and hasn’t released me yet. An emotionally gripping demonstration that a mother’s love, when tested, can become a force of nature. I will never look at Neverland and its inhabitants the same way again.” 
—Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader

"A dark and elegant look at a story we all know well. Liz Michalski takes Peter Pan where all the old stories go, where magic is never without a cost, and pixie dust might be more powerful than you imagine.  Fantastic!" 
—Barbara O’Neal, When We Believed in Mermaids 

"A captivating question quivers at the center of the engrossing novel,     Darling Girl: What if     Peter Pan isn't just a story? While meeting the Peter Pan you never knew, reading     Darling Girl is like falling under the enchanting spell of Liz Michalski's prose. As with all true magic, there must be both the seductive darkness and the illuminating light: Michalski masterfully gives us both.     Darling Girl introduces us to the Darling family decades away from Wendy and Peter, descendants who are grappling with secrets that protect family mythology, and a boy who will never grow up. With a young girl and her fiercely protective mother at the center of a spellbinding story,     Darling Girl is powerful and captivating. Neverland and the reader will never be the same again."  
— Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author

"A dark and dazzling tale. Liz Michalski has used her own magic wand to shed light on the lengths we go to in order to preserve the myth of beauty, the myth of youth, and even the myth of fairytales themselves.” 
—    Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author

"Darling Girl is a richly written story of what it means to live in the wake of a fairy tale, and the strength and courage it takes to step out of that shadow and find your own story. Full of heartache, sacrifice, and bravery, this is a book that will linger in a reader's thoughts." 
—   Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians

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