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Neverland Paperback – September 3, 2015
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From Publishers Weekly
An adolescent's cruel mischief proves a pathway to a dimension of otherworldly terrors in this creepy supernatural thriller, first published as a mass-market paperback in 1991. One summer on Gull Island off the coast of Georgia, Sumter Monroe indoctrinates his cousin Beau Jackson into the marvels of Neverland, Sumter's name for a tumble-down shack on their mutual maternal grandmother's property that's a shrine to a god he names Lucy. In Neverland, reality and illusion blur eerily, and the spirit of fun takes a malevolent turn as Sumter begin offering sacrifices of an increasingly disturbing nature to placate Lucy and sustain his special relationship with her. Clegg (The Vampyricon) crafts a haunting story redolent with the influence of Arthur Machen, H.P. Lovecraft, and other classic horror writers. His credible rendering of the internal lives of children and their imaginations give this flight of dark fancy a firm and frightening foothold in reality. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Clegg's stories can chill the spine so effectively that the reader should keep paramedics on standby."
Sherrilyn Kenyon, New York Times Bestselling Author
"Douglas Clegg is the future of dark fantasy."
David Morrell, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Shimmer
"Douglas Clegg's Neverland is an unforgettable novel that combines creeping horror and psychological suspense. It starts like a bullet and never slows down."
Marjorie M. Liu, New York Times Bestselling Author
"From start to finish, Neverland is a haunting and tragic masterpiece. A powerful, thrilling tale, Douglas Clegg tells Beau and Sumner's incredible story with a subtle blend of humor and sadness that resonates with the reader long after the novel ends.”
F. Paul Wilson, New York Times Bestselling Author
“This is a powerful and thrilling tale, Douglas Clegg’s best novel yet. The novel builds in whispers and ends in a scream. You will never forget Neverland.”
Bentley Little, Bestselling Author
“A brilliant novel that grows richer with each reading, a multilayered marvel that will one day be recognized as one of the classics of supernatural literature.”
Top customer reviews
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Though I'm not too wild about books that contain line breaks between paragraphs, I put up with it, primarily because the story roused my interest. This was the first book I've read by Douglas Clegg, and I enjoyed it immensely. I'll be keeping an eye out for more.
The antagonist is Sumter, Beau's cousin. (Shudder.) I never want to meet this kid. He is creepy and at times just downright disgusting. I actually had a visceral reaction to some of his antics. Beau always seems to suffer from Sumter's actions, from following behind him through pricker bushes to the larger escapades that Sumter draws him into. The two boys may seem like opposites, but they share a gift for imagination.
Neverland is the name that Sumter gives to his refuge. On the outside it is a shack on the property but on the inside is another realm. "Where I am is Neverland." Is a recurring quote and theme in the story. But what does Neverland reflect? Who rules there and what goes on? There is a question throughout as to what the children are experiencing, imagining, playing. Beau could be an unreliable narrator, but what Sumter tells him could be unreliable too. What do memories look like from a child's point of view when make-believe is so close to the surface?
Their parents are always fighting, with each other and with Grammy and the drinking, underlying tension and secrets that surround them results in the kids wanting to escape. Beau states at one point that "dinner was torture" and one time he noticed that the adults at the table behaved like "children sulking." The adult dynamics and the children's world mirror each other. As the games and family fights escalate, so does the tension. The adults self medicate with alcohol and the kids self medicate with Neverland.
What I liked: The writing is so extremely clever and beautiful. Clegg shows things in a unique and fresh way. ("My spinal cord wanted to wiggle out of my back." "...southern accent tugged at vowel sounds as if for dear life...") I think he would be able to successfully describe a color I've never seen before. I was able to imagine the house so clearly I'm sure I could build it, I could feel the island so vividly it felt like I was standing on the porch of the house, or walking on the beach. And I could envision the kids so well I'm sure I would recognize them if I saw them on the street. The story is deep and woven with foreshadowing and metaphors. I felt like I had all the puzzle pieces around me but I had to read till the end to see what the true picture was.
"Where did fear come from?" This sentence stopped me in my tracks. What a great question for the characters, for readers and for writers. I watch a lot of scary movies, but most don't really frighten me. However, the horror in Neverland delivers and the creepiness factor is a 10. It was disturbing to experience this secret place starting with Beau's first visit. "The nightmares all began the same way after that," he says after an early encounter. This line gave me goosebumps! There is danger in the mundane, from flowing seaweed to a stuffed teddy bear. Another theme running throughout the story is that when you are alive is when you hurt. Can you see where this kind of thought might take an imaginative and unhappy child? For me, that shack represented the dark power of the mind and it's influences.
Beau has always been a "good boy" and did what he was told. No wonder a place as seductive as Neverland would be enough to make him stray. He is thrilled to have a secret life, but is torn because he doesn't want to be pulled under with Sumter. He fights the allure of the games and at times it seems there is a fight for his soul. I really liked him because he shows empathy and is protective of his siblings.
The story crescendoes as the summer draws to a close. Beau grows tired of the games, with his cousin's behavior and a bit unraveled from not being quite sure what is real and what is not. His sisters are basically turning their heads, not wanting to see the truth. The adults either don't believe or are too afraid and Beau doesn't know who to turn to. It is his love for someone else and his innate sense of right and wrong that make him step up. Ironically, it is as if he has to be the "grown up" now, because he is the only one who may be able to fix things.
Neverland is a memory and Clegg is skilled in relaying memories. I've read two of his other novels (You Come When I Call You and The Hour Before Dark) and while they are all very different stories, they all rely on memories in different ways. There is something surreal about memories. They almost read like dreams, except one is real and one comes from your own mind. Or maybe that is a line that will always be blurred.
It took me a while to organize my thoughts and write this review and I could go on and on about this book. It would make a great choice for a book club where it can be discussed at length, from the section and chapter titles, ("Hurt" and "Dread Night"), to the metaphors that are so abundant.
"Neverland" is a story about the summer vacation from hell - complete with drunken dysfunctional adults, isolation, nothing to do, no air conditioning with tropical temps, and cousin Sumter - the boy most likely to star in another remake of The Omen or in The Good Son.
Sumter is a disturbing/disturbed boy, drawing his cousin Beau and Beau's older twin sisters Missy and Nonie into some unhealthy horrific pastimes in the clubhouse he has called Neverland on Gull Island.
Am I glad I read "Neverland?" Still trying to decide. I tend to prefer my monsters more of the zombie kind rather than the demonic ilk. The book was written well. Excellent character development, especially of the young people in the story. The story was nicely enhanced with illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne.