Book Review: “Everland” by Wendy Spinale

Everland_Wendy Spinale_Full

In this alternate Peter Pan retelling, Everland is a post-invasion Steampunk London where almost all of the adults have died of a mysterious contagion, leaving children to fend for themselves against German invader Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer – Captain Hook. Fifteen-year-old Gwen has been solely responsible for caring for her two younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey, ever since their parents disappeared a year ago, but when Hook’s soldiers capture Joanna, Gwen realizes she’s going to need some help rescuing her sister. Whether she likes it or not, that help is going to come from the mysterious Pete and his gang of Lost Boys.

I enjoyed Everland and the way author Wendy Spinale re-imagined the traditional Peter Pan story: Tinkerbell becomes Bella, a girl who is like a younger sister to Pete and flies around on mechanical wings, children don’t so much never want to grow up as don’t have any grown-ups left alive to take care of them, and, of course, there is actually a legitimate reason why Captain Hook is hunting a bunch of kids in the first place – he believes one of them holds a cure to the mysterious disease that is ravaging the world. It was a little bit jarring for this traditionally solidly children’s story to be infused with violence and romance, but that’s not a problem with the book; it was just interesting to be forced to modify my expectations.

Everland moves along at a quick pace, and if that means some elements of the book are glossed over (the ability of the Lost Boys to get the lodging, technology, and medical care they need is explained by the fact that most of them are child prodigies and never really elaborated on), it also means that Everland is able to stand alone, so readers won’t have to wait for a second installment to find out what happens next. Author Spinale clearly has some big ideas, and young teenage fans of steampunk fairy tale retellings should enjoy her take on the boy who never wants to grow up.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.