Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the Peter Pan prequel books by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. As I enjoyed the Peter Pan story long before this series came along, I was wary what they might do to the mythos. But all they've done is expand on it in a way that's respectful to the original, and true to the spirit.
In this book, Peter overhears some visitors to his island saying they're going to London to harm his friend, Molly Aster. He stows aboard their ship to help, but instead winds up lost and hungry in Victorian London. He's up against the Others again, this time with the formidable opponent of Lord Ombra, a being made of shadows who manipulates others by stealing theirs.
I realize this version of Peter was meant to have been raised in an orphanage, which made me wonder why he was so hopeless about how to survive on London's streets or how to get around. He was in an orphanage, not a prison. It could be his orphanage was outside London, and I can't remember if that was established in the first book. But, with the information I had, he seemed awfully unable to fend for himself.
This book establishes why Peter would return to his island, which he officially names Neverland by the end of the book. I thought it might also explain the wandering shadow that leads to his meeting Wendy, but, no, not yet. It does introduce him to J.M.Barrie, who helps him get away from a rather odious man on the streets of London, and also to George Darling, a good friend of Molly's.
This is good for middle grade, though the image of a man made of shadows may frighten smaller readers. It's a fun story, though, and jumps straight into the action. There are several stories going on at once, and all are compelling and full of danger. Peter is fully invested in the success of all of these subplots.
While the story is mostly told through Peter's point of view, the narrator is omniscient, and we see what enemies are up to and what they're thinking regularly. Within a scene, we get several characters' thoughts, though it doesn't feel like head-hopping. The story and perspectives are easy to follow.
I listened to this on audio, narrated by Jim Dale. He's an excellent narrator, especially for stories geared toward younger readers. His delivery also allows for the humor within these stories to show. Though there are several menacing characters, he has enough of a repertoire of accents and deliveries that they all sound different.
Previously reviewed by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson:
Peter and the Starcatchers
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