Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn't grow up
Tiger Lily is a brilliantly imaginative re-working of the Peter Pan story, showing a love story between Peter and Tiger Lily before Wendy came into the picture, and telling us a different version of the original tale. It focuses on Tiger Lily's life with the tribe, and the links between all the different characters.
It is also told from Tink the fairy's point of view, as she spies from various perspectives on her favourite personalities like we might watch soap operas unfolding, and this gives a unique edge to the narration. It gives us an insight into different aspects of the island and the characters on it.
The whole book feels full of magic and possibility, but there are dark patches as well, and it's not a light and easy read. There is a subtle undercurrent of menace all the way through- with the pirates scheming and the murderous mermaids, not to mention Tiger Lily's pending arranged marriage with a nasty brute of a man. I liked the magic and the sense of suspense as we are led through this doomed forbidden romance, and the beautifully and richly described land of Neverland.
Reading about Captain Hook, the mermaids and Tiger lily, and all these half- remembered characters from my childhood has made me want to re-visit J.M Barrie's original story (or at least watch the Disney film again), as it felt so new and vaguely familiar all at the same time.
Tiger Lily herself is a feisty and strong young woman- which is not a quality which is admired in her tribe. She gets a reputation for being cursed, and being bad luck (which she plays up by wearing crows feathers in her hair), and although she is independent and brave, she is also very lonely. Normally it takes a lot for her to open her heart up to anybody except her adoptive father, so it takes a while for Peter to break down her barriers.
Although Peter Pan himself doesn't came out as a very great character in this version of the story, I liked the telling of it, and that the emphasis was on alternative characters. One of my favourite characters has to be Tiger Lily's cross-dressing adoptive father -the shaman of the village Tik Tok. He always made me smile, and I also loved her sweet best friend Pine Sap. His devotion to Tiger Lily is so endearing. I really loved to hate the mean-spirited character of Aunt Fire who seems determined to make Tiger Lily suffer.
All in all, the book is a clever, mesmerising read, and I would describe it as a fantasy story but with the feel of a contemporary. It's moving and sad in places, heart-warming and magical in others, but it has definitely left a stamp on me. It's a bleaker story than I was expecting to read but just beautifully lyrical in the telling, and heart-breakingly tender.