4 stars

Tiger Lily is a prequel and reworking of the well-known Peter Pan story. Told from the perspective of Tinkerbell, it follows Tiger Lily, the princess of the native tribe in Neverland.

This book ended up being so much better than I initially expected it to be. At first I was irritated by Tinkerbell’s narration and how out of character she seemed from her portrayal in Peter Pan. However, I was eventually won over, and my complaints about her change in character were allayed by Jodi Lynn Anderson’s masterful subversion of the way we see events, thereby succeeding in showing different motivations for Tinkerbell’s behaviour in the original tale.

Fantasy is at its best when it is able to showcase something from the real world, and Tiger Lily does this very well. There were some really interesting messages in Tiger Lily about love and gender and belief and it ended up being very special, especially in the way it dealt with the effect of Westerners intruding on and disregarding foreign cultures.

The characters in this novel were truly wonderful, all of them real and beautifully flawed. Tiger Lily herself was an excellent character. She’s prickly and independent and sometimes selfish, but, having been bullied her whole life for her strangeness and her refusal to fit into the feminine roles assigned to her, I think she’s entitled to be. Peter Pan was also very well-drawn. He was a young boy desperately trying to be a man (an interesting variation on the boy who refuses to grow up), responsible for a huge troupe of teenagers (plus a baby) when he didn’t really have a clue how to manage. He was selfish and cruel at times, but certainly vulnerable. I was even made to have a strange sort of liking for the murderous Smee.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are familiar with Peter Pan (as I’m sure most are) and would like to see an interesting re-interpretation of that famous work.

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