Neverland

Following the success of ISIS, Douglas Clegg has not disappointed with NEVERLAND. This haunting novel — no pun intended — tells the story of a group of children on a family summer vacation on Gull Island. They form a kind of club, centering on an abandoned shack in the yard of their family’s retreat, no grown-ups allowed.

This simple concept forms the foundation of a waking nightmare, in which the children, led by the oddest of cousins, Sumter, begin praying to an unseen god, stealing and lying at the god’s command, and ultimately being making sacrifices. Each indiscretion builds, each theft larger than the last, each sacrifice worse than the previous, until Sumter’s imagination takes this imagined club — Neverland — out of the realm of the clubhouse and out over the entire island.

With astounding clarity, Clegg creates a world of children completely separate from that of the world of adults. These kids have not yet crossed over into the world of adulthood, but are astute enough to see the pain, lies and unhappiness in the lives of the grown-ups around them.

This perspective is emphasized by Clegg’s choice of narrator: a young boy named Beau, who follows Sumter in these wicked adventures, but questions them along the way. Beau struggles to understand the difficulties of adulthood, the unhappiness of his parents, aunt and uncle, and grandmother as he simultaneously tries to grasp Sumter’s alternate version of the world, in which children can remain young forever.

Clegg’s narration is subtle, but perfectly done, providing a well-chosen lens through which to see the waking nightmare that Beau experiences. Ultimately, Beau is left to choose between the horrors of growing up and the horrors of Neverland, alone in a world where the lines between imagination and reality are consistently blurred. Lovers of horror and terrifying fiction are sure to enjoy another well-done novel from Clegg, and those unfamiliar to the genre of horror fiction will find his work a creepily satisfying place to start. —Kerry Serini

Buy it at Amazon.

OTHER BOOKGASM REVIEWS OF THIS AUTHOR:
FOUR DARK NIGHTS by Bentley Little, Douglas Clegg, Christopher Golden and Tom Piccirilli
ISIS by Douglas Clegg

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6 Comments »

Comment by Fran Friel
2010-05-21 12:20:12

Great review. Marvelous book!

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Comment by Audey
2010-05-21 18:49:52

Great review and awesome book trailer. I want to read this one for sure! You might also enjoy Kate Kaynak’s new psychic espionage series coming out June 18th. The first book, “Minder,” introduces a sixteen year-old woman who has special psychic abilities and is involved in a top secret government training facility that is not very nurturing to the other young psychics there. I’m looking forward to this one and can’t wait for its release. Hope you can check it out!

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Comment by Craig
2010-05-24 08:40:57

Not a new book–Clegg first published this in 1991. Still, it is a good one. But your review makes it sound like “Clegg’s new novel.”

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Comment by Kerry
2010-05-27 22:10:35

Fran – Thanks! I really enjoyed it.

Audey – Great recommendation, I’ll have to check those out.

Craig – Thanks for the info. I read an advance galley of the book, which threw me, but it seems I should have done more homework before finishing my review. Apparently the edition I read is a new paperback edition, published in April. Duly noted!

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Comment by Douglas Clegg
2010-06-02 12:05:39

Kerry

Thank you for that great review. When Neverland came out 20 years ago, it disappeared quickly as if it had never been published. Die-hard fans of horror fiction found it over the years, but it was a novel that got very little notice when it first came out except in the small press horror areas.

I revised it for the new edition, and I think Vanguard Press did a beautiful job with it. It’s presented as a “new book” because, to most of the reading public and a new generation of readers, it is virtually new.

Also, this is its trade paperback debut, and if you get a chance to see the final book — not the ARC –you’ll see the care that Vanguard Press took with it, between the rough-edged pages, the french flap cover, and those moody, atmospheric illustrations that Glenn Chadbourne created exclusively for this edition. It has to be one of the most collectible trade paperbacks I’ve ever seen.

I’m very thankful that Vanguard Press created this edition, giving Neverland the shot it didn’t have in its first mass market run.

As with other genre novels that I’ve seen reappear after 20 or more years, when you write something that’s worth another go-round, and a generation of readers didn’t know of its existence, it’ll come out again. If you’re fortunate.

Thanks again, Kerry. Your insight on Neverland got me thinking further about fiction and writing and why I do it.

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Comment by Kerry
2010-06-10 08:21:39

Douglas – Glad you found the review, and definitely glad that Vanguard decided to publish a new edition. Love the illustrations (did he do the illustrations for ISIS as well?), and happy to see a great book getting a second chance.

Looking forward to reading more of your work!

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