Peter and the Secret of Rundoon is the third and final installment of the backstory they concocted. They manage to explain not just where Peter and Hook first met, but what Tinkerbell is, why Neverland is the way it is, how Peter can fly, the whole business with Peter’s shadow, and why he ends up in _that particular_ nursery when it comes time to take Wendy and her brothers off to Neverland. And as they’re doing it, they tell an excellent story. Now, it’s been a while since I read Peter Pan, but it seems to me that they captured the childlike wonder and sense of adventure, and it’s a delight to watch the familiar world slowly come into being around you.
The thing they didn’t catch is the sense of scale. Peter Pan, though it looms large in our imaginations, is a fairly small story: it deals with one family, and with one small, eminently self-contained island. The real world is far away, not just when the narrative are in Neverland but also when it is in London, with the Darling children sequestered away in their nursery while their parents, hazy ambassadors from the outside world, are scarcely seen and less often understood. Barry and Ridley’s Peter books, however, are on a global scale; it revolves around Peter, Molly, the Island, and a few others, certainly, but what happens to them is of worldwide consequence. Okay, it’s a little less satisfying, but I can deal.
Until, late in the third book, it turns out that everything is of _universal_ consequence! (I can’t bring myself to feel bad for that general a spoiler; if you feel your reading experience will be ruined, oops.)The big reveal, the explanation of what is really going on, comes, and I just rolled my eyes. It really is bigger than human comprehension, which, frankly, makes it hard for me to care.
Of course, the universe doesn’t end – it would be hard for these to act as prequels to Peter Pan if it did – and, happily, Barry and Pearson return to a human scale for a bit more adventure before signing off and waiting for J. M. Barrie to pick up the narrative.
Who knows, maybe I’ll go on and reread his Peter Pan.