I have to admit that I love nothing more than opening my email than seeing Spark Point Studio. I love working with them and they promote some of my absolute favorite authors. So when I saw the invitation to participate in the blog tour for Colleen Oakes latest addition to the Wendy Darling series, I responded without hesitation. I fangirl over Oakes and her ability to weave dazzling re-imaginings of my favorite fairy tales. Wendy Darling Vol 2: Seas ranks highly among my favorites. You can find my past review of Seas here.
Today I am excited to share my thoughts on the conclusion to this haunting series as well as a lovely interview with the brilliant author behind the books!
Please Welcome Colleen Oakes
Thank you so much for your time today! The Wendy Darling series is one of my favorites. I admire how you have taken Neverland and its familiar residents and expanded on them, giving them new life. What was your inspiration behind this series?
I knew that after Queen of Hearts I wanted to write another fairytale retelling with a strong female character. When I first picked up Peter Pan to read it again before starting Wendy Darling, I was struck by just how adult that story is. As a child, you remember the Lost Boys having fun and Peter flying, but there are a lot of dark and twisted things about the story of Peter Pan; gender roles, violence, strange hints of hatred for Mothers…it’s a much deeper and more diabolical story that it gets credit for. That resonated with me, and I knew that Wendy Darling would be the character, and the book, for me.
Who has been your favorite character to develop within the Wendy Darling series and what are some of your favorite qualities within them?
While I do love Wendy and all that is good and merciful within her, Peter Pan is my favorite character to write. I love a charismatic villain; I modeled him after powerful and attractive cult leaders throughout history. I wondered – what would a sixteen year old forever actually look like, and he was born out of that question.
You have taken the infamous Neverland and made it your very own. What were some of the challenges you encountered during this process?
Probably the most obvious answer is that it’s an island. You can only go so many places on an island and so it’s sort of limiting in its scope. Because that wasn’t challenging enough, I set book two, Seas, on a boat. I modeled the physical island after Kauai, only with a feral magic that has created the history that we see in the books.
Wendy Darling: Shadow is the conclusion of our time with this series. For myself it was bitter-sweet. While very satisfied, I found I was not quite ready to say goodbye. How does it feel personally to see this adventure come to an end?
I feel sad, but also grateful that I got to tell Wendy Darling’s story second, after J.M Barrie. I’m proud of these books and what they have to say about family and loyalty and the struggles of a girl coming-of-age in a wild world. They will always have a special place in my heart and yes, it’s quite bittersweet.
As a reader, I hold a special fondness for fairy tales and retellings. You have explored Wonderland in your Queen of Hearts series and Neverland in Wendy Darling. What can we anticipate next?
I can tell you that in 2019, you will be seeing a very different book from me – a Southern Gothic style thriller that deals with vigilante justice and a matriarchal society in Austin Texas. After that, another YA thriller will be up on deck, and another fantasy novel. I will be revisiting fairy-tales very soon though.
And last but least, I must ask (in the spirit of Books, Vertigo and Tea) do you have a favorite tea that you enjoy?
My favorite tea is Honey Vanilla Chamomile with a LOT of honey in it.
Thank you again fColleen! I am anticipating the new thriller (Austin is my birth city) and cannot wait to see what lies ahead! I am also excited to see which fairy tales you choose to revisit.
Wendy Darling Volume 3: Shadow
Wendy Darling has found herself once again in the arms of charming Peter Pan, the god-child who desires power above all things. This time, though, Wendy burns not with passion but with a secret: with Hook as her ally, she is there to defeat the evil that lies inside of Peter, the evil that holds all Neverland hostage: the Shadow.
To do this, Wendy must quietly undo Peter from inside his heart while at the same time convincing Tink to betray the twisted love that binds them together. This is a task made nearly impossible by the arrival of Booth, her sweetheart from London and a new pawn in Peter’s manipulative game, a boy whose heart she must break in order to save his life. As all of Neverland prepares to fight, Wendy races to untangle Peter’s connection to the Shadow, a secret long buried in the Forsaken Garden. When the time comes, pirates, mermaids, Lost Boys, and the Darling family will all rise, but if Wendy can’t call the Shadow, they will all be destroyed by Peter’s dark soul. War has come to paradise, and Neverland will never be the same. Wendy Darling: Shadow is the thrilling final installment in Colleen Oakes’ Wendy Darling Trilogy.”
Colleen Oakes has captured the very heart and essence of fairy tales with this series. There is an indescribable magic that seems to lift from the pages when I open Shadow. A comforting familiarity and an enticing new adventure find the perfect balance within, as a Wendy’s remarkable journey unfolds.
I am refraining from diving too far into the plot as always since this is a conclusion to a trilogy. But Shadow thrusts us back into the heart of Neverland as our heroine Wendy embarks on a daring emprise to save its lands and inhabitants from the ever menacing Peter Pan and his Shadow. Is it possible that in doing so she just might save the ones she loves and finally return home?
Shadow continues to deliver extraordinary character development and world building that is showcased through a bold and fast paced plot bursting with excitement and enthusiasm. Wendy’s relentless courage pairs beautifully with her unyielding love and hope to provide a protagonist that confronts her own weakness and continually challenges herself. The end result is a unique character that evolves tremendously and in doing so creates a very personalized connection with the reader. The returning ensemble of rag-tag pirates and misfits ultimately succeed in gaining our affection and admiration in the most unlikely ways.
Oakes has earned a favored spot among my list of auto-read authors. I often envision something mystical occurring as she puts pen to paper (so to speak). There is an overwhelming sense of ease that is conveyed through how effortlessly her stories read. Seamless narration compliments her uncanny ability to take something well-known and transform it into her own. She incorporates haunting elements of love, loss and obsession, exposing a new, darker side of Neverland and its inhabitants that will play on a multitude of emotions.
It is quite possible to pick up any book in this series and read it as a standalone because the storytelling is complete and thorough, but I would honestly advise against doing so. There is too much to be gained from the Wendy Darling books. This is a trilogy that will find a permanent and welcomed home among the shelves of fantasy and fairy tale fans alike. With a consistent pace and befitting conclusion, this is one series I find myself reluctant to part with.
Colleen Oakes is the author of books for both teens and adults, including the Elly in Bloom Series, the Queen of Hearts Saga (Harper Collins 2016), and the Wendy Darling Saga. She lives in North Denver with her husband and son and surrounds herself with the most lovely family and friends imaginable. When not writing or plotting new books, Oakes can be found swimming, traveling or totally immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. She currently at work on another fantasy series and a stand-alone YA novel. Visit her on Twitter @ColleenBlooms.
You can also visit her website at www.colleenoakes.com.