The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

Do you like magic, adventure, and the idea of never-growing-up? Try ‘The Neverland Wars’ by Audrey Greathouse!

on April 27, 2016

I received a digital ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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The Neverland Wars. Audrey Greathouse. Clean Teen Publishing.

Release date: 9th May 2016. 

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality. She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well.

Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.


Sooo, first things first, this is my first ever ARC, and I’ve always wanted to write the above disclaimer, so I’m dorking out with excitement right now!

Now that’s out of the way, let me officially start by saying that I LOVED this book, and I’m so happy I got the chance to read it before it’s official publication date. Thank you so much again to Audrey for sending me an ARC copy!

I love fantasy, and I love fairytale retellings, and this novel was… well not exactly a retelling of Peter Pan, but rather a reimagining; it’s set in the present day, and it’s Gwen instead of Wendy who flies off to Neverland in pursuit of her little sister, who’s been taken by Peter Pan.

What I loved most about this novel was the gorgeous writing. It has that special kind of ‘storyteller’ narrative voice where every line reads like it’s been sprinkled with something magical. I felt like I was curling up next to a warm fire and being read to by somebody with a captivating voice from the kind of storybook you want to stay up and hear one more chapter of before bedtime.

This was an interesting novel category-wise because it’s technically YA, although the main part of the story takes place in Neverland and that part felt somehow ageless – it could almost have been a children’s story, although there were adult themes lurking beneath the surface.

Gwen’s adventure begins when her little sister Rose is abducted in the night, and some very unusual ‘police’ officers turn up at her house to investigate the disappearance. It soon becomes clear that these officers have an agenda beyond finding Gwen’s sister, and that all of the adults in Gwen’s life have been lying to her for years… they know exactly where Rose has been taken, because they know all about the existence of magic; they’ve been using it to make the world work to their advantage for years. Furthermore, they’ll do anything to obtain more of it… and Neverland just so happens to have plentiful supplies.

I loved that this novel offered two different takes on magic – on the one hand, magic is something which lives in the very joy of Neverland’s Lost children, of those who have made the decision not to grow up… on the other hand, magic is a tool which can be manipulated to solve all sorts of complicated adult problems, and is a commodity ‘grown-ups’ are therefore desperate to get their hands on. Gwen quickly learns, for example, that her father, a ‘financial advisor’, has been channelling magic into the country’s economy for years, and things would have REALLY fallen apart if he hadn’t. I thought this concept was so unique, although I’d have loved to have learnt a bit more about it. Gwen’s father explains all of this to her quite quickly, not long before Gwen herself is whisked off to Neverland. I’m hoping that Gwen will investigate and uncover more about her father’s dabblings with magic in the next book (Oh yes, I forgot to mention this is a trilogy! I’m really excited for book two!)

Neverland was marvellously imagined, and every inch as magical as I’d hoped. I loved reading about the jungle with all its weird and wonderful fruits, the fairies who couldn’t stop eating EVERYTHING (Bramble who is continuously eating so much he passes out with food-drunkenness was hilarious, and… ahem, relatable), and the strange, mystical mermaids who talk about the rumblings of the coming war in such a dreamy way you almost forget to be scared about it.

Peter Pan himself was reimagined well, and I love that Audrey took his character to new places by showing his desperation to hide the fact that reality is essentially aging him every time he ventures outside of Neverland. On the surface, he was all impish, childish bravado, but you could tell that he was worried about reality, and everything it was trying to take from him, underneath that cockiness. The Lost Children were excellently imagined too – they were such a boisterous rabble of energy, and I loved that Gwen so quickly became a part of that immortal childish joy.

Gwen was an interesting character, because she was so torn between reality and Neverland. Gwen is somebody who spent her childhood wishing to become a grown-up (so she could stay up later and experience more exciting ‘adult’ things), but when she becomes a teenager, she quickly starts to realise that growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Adult things are not nearly as exciting as they seem, and after she’s spent merely a day in Neverland, reality seems more mundane than ever. There’s something rooted deeply in Gwen which has left her unable to fully let go of childhood, and it’s this part of her which emerges more and more the longer she stays in Neverland. However, at the same time, Gwen can’t shake the feeling that reality is where she belongs.

I have to say that I was rooting for Gwen to remain in Neverland, rather than going back to reality. Being a 25 year old who reads this much YA, and has many a day where she feels like she can’t *adult*, you can probably already tell I’m the kind of person who is attracted to the idea of never growing up.

The concept of Neverland speaks to me, because it exists outside of time and reality and the pressures of life. It’s a total escape. What was very interesting about this story though was how ‘reality’ was portrayed as an enemy – an antagonist trying its best to find a way into Neverland and destroy it. We know from the blurb that a war is brewing, and ‘reality’ is looming over Neverland, threatening to suck all of the magic away from it… For the majority of the novel, we only really get whisperings of this war (and the story is much more about Gwen exploring Neverland with Peter, Rose, and the Lost Children), but by the end, cracks are beginning to show, and ‘reality’ had started launching its attacks on Neverland; the illusion begins to shatter.

I thought the way this was imagined was very clever and unique, but I won’t go into further details as I don’t want to spoil anything. I’d have liked to learn more about the war, but I enjoyed the build up and impending sense of threat, and the things I don’t yet know just make me even more excited for the coming books.

Overall, I really loved this book. There are some parts I’m still dying to know more about, but I think this was an awesome start to a series I’ll certainly be snapping up the rest of! It gave me a much-needed magical escape from reality, and if you’re in search of one too, I highly recommend The Neverland Wars.

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33 responses to “Do you like magic, adventure, and the idea of never-growing-up? Try ‘The Neverland Wars’ by Audrey Greathouse!

  1. AH! This sounds like everything I’ve ever wanted in a book! This is a GREAT review – congrats on your first ARC! 🙂 I’ll have to add this to my TBR, I love Peter Pan and spinoffs…one of my favorite movies as a kid was “Hook.”

  2. Congrats on your first ARC review! You rocked it if I don’t say so myself 🙂 This sounds like such an interesting take on the Peter Pan story! It is definitely intriguing!!! I really do need an extra set of eyes to read all the books I want to get around to reading lol

    • mudandstars says:

      Ohh thank so much! 😀 It was an interesting take – I loved that it wasn’t just a retelling, but a new story in the same world 🙂 Haha I totally relate to that problem – I have so so many books on my TBR and no time to read them all 😥

  3. This is SUCH a beautifully written review! Ive just bought another Peter Pan retelling called ‘Tiger Lily’ but I’ll definitely be adding this to my TBR too. 🙂 x

  4. Annelise Lestrange says:

    CONGRATS ON THE FIRST ARC AGAIN!! OMG, THIS BOOK IS AMAZING! I need to pick this one up tooo!!! ❤ ❤ YOU ROCKED WITH THIS REVIEW!!!

  5. This sounds great! Retellings of these sorts of classics are starting to feel a bit tired, but this sounds like a good take on the idea.

    • mudandstars says:

      It was indeed 😀 I know exactly what you mean, but I found this one pretty refreshing. I think it’s because it was a new story using the world of Peter Pan, rather than a straightforward retelling. Plus there wasn’t really any romantic focus, which makes a change!!

  6. What a fantastic review… I couldn’t have hoped for anything better, and I’m so happy that you had such a fun experience with your first ARC. With the wonderful detail and insight you put into your reviews, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before other authors and publishers start lobbing ARCs at you!

    • mudandstars says:

      Aww thank you so much Audrey, I’m so glad you liked it! I really loved the book, and I’m really excited to pick up the next one 🙂 And I would love to have ARCs lobbed at me haha, here’s hoping 😀

  7. I love this description:
    “What I loved most about this novel was the gorgeous writing. It has that special kind of ‘storyteller’ narrative voice where every line reads like it’s been sprinkled with something magical. I felt like I was curling up next to a warm fire and being read to by somebody with a captivating voice from the kind of storybook you want to stay up and hear one more chapter of before bedtime.”

    So beautifully written – makes me want to rush out and get the book immediately!

  8. I was looking into this and wondered if it was any good, great post! I want to read it now 🙂

  9. Ohhh, congratulations on your first ARC!! And that book sounds quite great, might add it to my TBR… 😀

    • mudandstars says:

      Thanks Marie! 😀 I was so excited!! It was an awesome book, hope you enjoy if you decide to pick it up. It’s made me really want to read some more Peter Pan retellings/spin-offs 🙂

  10. Mägi says:

    Definitely going to read this!

  11. This book looks so good! I requested it on netgalley but I don’t think I’ll get approved…

    • mudandstars says:

      It was awesome, definitely recommend it! 😀 hope you manage to get a netgalley copy, but if not, the book came out this week sooo it’s available on Amazon, etc now. I also spotted it on a book promo site (I think it was YA Bound Book Tours) so you could try requesting it via them 🙂

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