So, a few months back one of my friends gave me Tiger Lily to borrow and read since she loved it so much, but since I’m very much a mood reader, I didn’t get around to it until this past week. I wanted something quick and easy to read to fill the couple of days I had before my copy of ACOWAR arrived. Tiger Lily is a standalone fantasy, and was perfect to fill the time, but I was seriously not expecting it to tug at my heartstrings and melt me into a puddle like it did.
I absolutely loved it but it also left me with a bit of a hole in my heart and if I didn’t have ACOWAR to read I suspect I would be falling into a book hangover (although ACOWAR will probably leave me even worse). Anyways, today I thought I would review Tiger Lily to try and get out some of the intense feels that I have after reading it.
If you didn’t already know, Tiger Lily is a Peter Pan retelling but mainly focuses on the life of Tiger Lily (remember the cute girl with the feather in her hair from the movie?). It was a really intriguing retelling though, because it more focused on everything in Tiger Lily’s life that then lead up to the original events of the original story. It’s kind of like a prequel that slots in, and you can choose to believe it as what happens before the events of Peter Pan.
One of the things I really enjoyed, is how it explored what the world of Neverland would be like in a more realistic setting. Yes, there are still mermaids and faeries, but that’s about as far as all the magic goes. It explains why the people of the island believe they don’t die, and why some get older than others before they stop physically aging. It also explains other things, like why the pirates believe the lost boys can fly. I really liked how Neverland was actually on Earth, just in a place that people very rarely discover it, because of how remote it is and dangerous the waters around are. By the end, part of me was nodding along and thinking that maybe Neverland is actually out there, it’s just so well hidden that nobody goes there. That maybe faeries and mermaids do exist; they’re just hidden from humans as well. Although it took away the magical elements, because of this, it almost added more magic to the world of Peter Pan, by making it more realistic and believable than the Disney version.
For me, the tale of Peter Pan has always held so much innocence and that came out beautifully in this novel. The love that grows between Peter and Tiger Lily is so wonderful and innocent, that I was constantly waiting for it to shatter because of how fragile it seemed. There were circumstances that tugged at both of them, making it so hard for them to keep going, yet they still tried. Although Tiger Lily was the more guarded of the two, even Peter was haunted, and yet still so hopeful of the fact that a girl had come into his and the lost boys lives, somebody who could possibly help shoulder the burden of leading them all when he had no idea what to do.
Tiger Lily was such an interesting character, I’ve never really thought much about her, as she isn’t ever the main person, but I really fell in love with her story and I just want more and more. Through the eyes of Tinkerbell, we got to see Tiger Lily grow up in her village, very much an outcast because of how strange she was as the adopted daughter of the village shaman. She had very few friends, and many people were scared of her because of all the things that happened around her. She became hard and closed off because of this, but still cared so deeply, and helped those that others wouldn’t. She was fearless and yet at the same time so absolutely frightened of letting anyone see her. She was such a complex character, and a refreshing change from charming YA heroines, who have there issues but remain happy. Tiger Lily reminds me in some ways of Nesta from the ACOTAR series. The way she cares so deeply but tries not to show it. I’m looking forward to rewatching all the Peter Pan movies and actually noticing her and what she is like.
Another thing I really liked was how everyone else got more of a backstory as well, some of the lost boys, as well as Captain Hook and his pirates. I loved seeing how all of these characters came to Neverland, although I would have liked to know more about Peter. The way this story was told was really interesting, because it was told from the perspective of Tinkerbell. She can’t talk, but follows Tiger Lily around her whole life, which is how she is then able to recall everything that happens. It was basically told in third person, but then every now and then Tinkerbell would add some of her own personally backstory and thoughts, and I’d remember that she was the one recalling what was happening.
Although I knew the way the story was likely to go, because of the original, it was still such a shock the way a lot of things happened. It felt like a lot went downhill but also uphill at the same time, and very unexpectedly. The sign of an awesome retelling is when it makes you hate characters you previously loved, and this story definitely did that for a few characters with me by the end.
The way the whole novel wrapped up was beautiful and even though it was bittersweet, I loved the ending that that the author spun for all the characters. It had my heart physically hurting, but at the same time feeling light and hopeful.
Tiger Lily was such an enchanting novel, that made me feel so many things and left me looking at a lot of elements of Peter Pan differently. It showed that life can be painful sometimes but you can move on from it and find new things to love.
I highly recommend this novel if you want a quick, gripping read, something to pull you out of reading slump, as well as leave you filled with a little bit of magic.