OXFORD £12.99 £11.50 (P&P FREE) 08700 798 897

Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Boys are back in town

I wouldn't count myself among the host of "Wendy worshippers and Hook aficionados" Geraldine McCaughrean felt at her shoulder when she sat down to start work on a sequel to Peter Pan. Only a veteran of more than 130 children's books could hope to see them off. But a return voyage to Neverland, your passage arranged by way of a competition run by Great Ormond Street Hospital, must rank as one of the most nerve-racking journeys undertaken by a modern author.

It's not as though the Pan story was lacking in imitators: prequels, sequels, revolting Disney movies, not to mention the slew of works picking over the life of its creator, J M Barrie. At the end of the original novel, Wendy and the Lost Boys have been claimed by adulthood; Hook by death at the jaws of a crocodile. To these problems, and all others, McCaughrean has endlessly imaginative solutions.

Ravello, a circus ringmaster, has come to Neverland, with an array of frightening beasties. Known as the "Ravelling Man", this woolly, indistinct figure - not so much a person as a "very tall cardigan" - finds a way to insinuate himself into Pan's retinue as valet. But what of those Lost Boys, all grown up now: judges, baronets and fathers? Well, they reappear, summoned to Neverland by unsettlingly vivid dreams, after donning their own children's clothes and shrinking down to their former sizes. Wendy, too, reprises her role as Mother and even Tinker Bell is wished back into existence.

So, with the original cast on board, what can McCaughrean find to do with them? The answer is a cunning combination of the best of Barrie's, and her own, previous work (with just a dash of inspiration from the film versions). In last year's The White Darkness, McCaughrean took a well-known story of adventure and exploration and reinvented it, as her young heroine set off across Antarctica with the spirit of the dead Captain Oates for company. Here, the reformed "League of Pan" set out on a classic quest for buried treasure but find something so sinister hidden at the summit of Neverpeak that it overturns not only their ideas about lost treasure but about Pan himself.

McCaughrean's book, like Barrie's, is as refreshingly dark and unsentimental as a book about fairies and lost babies can be, and it's hard to see how she could have done it better. There are some cast members who don't return for the sequel: Michael Darling, along with many of the pirate crew, has entered the ranks of eternally Lost Boys by joining up for the Great War. Neverland itself has changed from summer to autumn, polluted by Hook's poison. However, McCaughrean does allow herself, and us, an ending filled with the kind of happy reunions which Barrie clearly felt - perhaps for reasons obvious from his own biography - unable to provide.

And what about Peter Pan himself? Still as sulky, petulant and, frankly, unappealing as ever. But why is he dressed in scarlet? And wearing an Eton boy's white tie? Telling would be simply, as Hook would put it, terribly bad form.

Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in 2011

Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandal

books
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian Jack Dee has allegedly threatened to quit as chairman of long-running Radio 4 panel show 'I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue'

Edinburgh Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Director Paul Thomas Anderson (right) and his movie The Master featuring Joaquin Phoenix

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
There are no plans to replace R Kelly at the event

music
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>Laura
Carmichael- Lady Edith Crawley</strong></p>
<p>Carmichael currently stars as Sonya in the West End production of
Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre. She made headlines this autumn
when Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall shouted at her in a
half-sleepy state during her performance. </p>
<p>Carmichael made another appearance on the stage in 2011, playing
two characters in David Hare’s <em>Plent</em>y
at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. </p>
<p>Away from the stage she starred as receptionist Sal in the 2011
film <em>Tinker Tailor Solider Spy</em>. </p>

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana admits she's

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star