Neverland by Douglas Clegg

Cover of Neverland by Douglas Clegg

Story

From the Cover…

For years the Jackson family has vacationed at Rowena Wandigaux Lee’s old Victorian house on Gull Island, a place of superstition and legend off the southern coast of the U.S. One particular summer, young Beau follows his cousin Sumter into a hidden shack in the woods-and christens this new clubhouse “Neverland.”

Neverland has a secret history, unknown to the children…

The rundown shack in the woods is the key to an age-old mystery, a place forbidden to all. But Sumter and his cousins gather in it’s dusty shadows to escape the tensions at their grandmother’s house. Neverland becomes the place where children begin to worship a creature of shadows, which Sumter calls “Lucy”

<SNIP!>


There was a bit more to the description, but I cut it off there because the rest is kinda spoiler-ish in my opinion. However, I’m writing a review of a book, not a book flap.

(Ed. Note: I received a copy of this book for review at no cost to me. )

My Opinion

Douglas Clegg does a great job of portraying the restlessness of childhood. Beau is stuck in a place he doesn’t want to be, with people he increasingly does not want to be around. Dispite his frustrations, he tries to make the best of his time on Gull Island.  Unfortunately for him, his cousin Sumter has other ideas about how to spend a summer. I’ll just say it now… That boy ain’t right.

The characters of Beau and Sumter are a bit more fleshed out than the rest of the cast. That’s really no surprise though, because they’re the ones we spend the most time with.   Sumter is the more interesting one, but I’m glad it’s Beau’s head we’re in for the ride. I’d hate to see what’s goin’ on between Sumter’s ears.

Highlights

Just a couple of things I particularly liked about this book.

    Neverland Illustration from Page xiii

  • Atmostphere
  • Douglas Clegg did an excellent job of setting the scene and creating the atmosphere of Gull Island. You could almost feel the clinging sweat of a humid southern summer day.

  • Illustrations
  • The illustrations in the book are perfectly suited to the story. Some are gory, others downright ominous. The style puts me in mind of some old books of ghost stories that I’ve read. That in itself makes them a perfect match for this story.

Lowlights

A couple of things that bothered me.

  • Unclear Timeframe
  • The lack of an explicit, or even less vague, date reference point made the story difficult to visualize. We know where the story takes place, but the only references to when is the age of Beau. This made the story seem less solid. Without a date, or year, or even decade to clearly achor the story it was left adrift in temporal uncertainty. This could be intentional, either as a way of keeping the story from aging badly, or as another way to build upon the disconnected feeling growing in the characters. Whatever the reason, I didn’t care for it.

  • Awkward Word Choice
  • At least once the characters use a word that isn’t appropriate to the situation. This left me wondering if the poor word choice came from the character, as a sort of character quirk, or if it came from the author. Here’s the line that got me.

    “I’m so hungry, I’m ravished,” Nonie said, adusting the red-and-yellow beach towel more tightly around her waist.

    Famished? Yes. Ravenous? Maybe. Ravished? Certainly not.

    The question is, is it the character of a teenage girl who believes herself to be far more mature than she really is who made that word choice? Probably, but it made me wonder for a few seconds and that tore me out of the story. Readers less picky about vocabulary may not even notice.

Verdict

Douglas Clegg brings us a darn good ghost story set in the humid heat of coastal Georgia. The location is skillfully constructed, even if the era is in question.

When it comes to the creep factor, Neverland delivers. Horrific scenes are combined with atrocious family secrets in the the grand tradition of classic American horror.

Perfect vacation reading for horror fans.