Series: Pennymaker Tales 04
Author: Tara Lain
Narrator: Kale Williams
Length: 6 hrs, 41 mins
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (27th March 2018)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts
Blurb: Wendell “Wen” Darling lives in a world of shoulds and musts. Left to care for his brother and sister by his dull drudge of a father and wacko irresponsible mother, he suppresses his creativity, slaving in an ad agency 70 hours a week, letting his no-talent supervisor take the credit.
Then his bosses blow the campaign for their biggest client and Wen gets a chance to shine – but only if he can find the artist who painted a wild, glorious wall of graffiti in the subway. Hiding behind a pillar at 2:00 a.m., Wen comes face-to-face with the scarlet-haired, elven-faced embodiment of his divergent opposite – Peter Panachek, the flighty, live-for-today painter, singer, and leader of the rock group the Lost Boys.
Everything Wen takes seriously, Peter laughs off, but opposites attract, even if their kisses always lead to battles. Peter’s devil-may-care persona hides a world of secrets, self-protection, and hidden fears, until the day a drug dealer, Vadon Hooker, threatens everything Wen holds dear. Guided by the mysterious Mr. Pennymaker, Peter has to choose between facing responsibility or burrowing even deeper into Neverland.
Review: I started listening to the audiobook of Never with mixed feelings. I really do like Tara Lain’s writing and have adored all three previous books in the Pennymaker Tales series. However, I recently had problems and just couldn’t connect to and finish two of Lain’s books in Dreamspun Beyond, so I had worried that perhaps either the author’s writing had changed or there had been a subtle change in what I like to read personally. I mean, the latter can happen at any time and has nothing to do with the author of any book.
As for the series itself I really love the concept. It is a contemporary story set against the background of well-known fairytales (ie Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan). There is also something of an urban fantasy element in the language used by Lain for one minor character who is the essence of the entire series, helping the couples to find each other, Carstairs Pennymaker.
As I said, I love all three previous points and I have to say that I was not disappointed with the fourth book, I adored Never. Lain has created a very quirky but relatable and fun world in this story that really did border into urban fantasy. The audio narration by Kale Williams was also fantastic, his naturally soft voice suited both MCs.
Never is the story of Wendell “Wen” Darling and the mysterious Peter Panachek – see the Peter Pan references rush in now. There’s a Hook[er], a Schmee, Tinkerbelle, The Lost Boys and even Neverland. However, being a Blackadder fan, jokes made about Wen’s surname also make me think of Blackadder Goes Forth with Captain Darling, named exactly for the purpose of these jokes. Being that this was based on Peter Pan there are some clear parallels in the plot line of both stories.
Additionally, those that grew up loving the movie Hook will probably find it easier to relate to the modern setting of the movie and reconciling it with the book.
Wen is a struggling advertising worker. He works crazy hours just to keep a shabby roof over the heads of himself, his eleven-year-old brother and sixteen-year-old sister. Wen is in a lot of trouble at work when his job is left on the line after a lazy manager verges on losing the ad agency one of their biggest clients after giving a stale idea for the campaign. Wen’s boss gives him a chance to make it up and it leads Wen on a crazy ride, leading him to Peter Panachek. Wen and Peter are very difficult, yet at the same time with a mysterious past its clear that Peter really isn’t all that dissimilar to Wen. Peter has a bit of a hero complex and despite being afraid that he will be found by his family after running away two years ago, he will help Wen so that he doesn’t lose his job and become unable to feed his siblings.
Both Wen come with a tonne of baggage. Peter doesn’t like the stodgy world that Wen lives in and thinks that he acts like an old man. While, on the other hand, Wen thinks that Peter is too irresponsible and vague, reminding Wen and his siblings of their absent mother.
And, of course, there is the enigmatic Carstairs Pennymaker. A seemingly rich entrepreneur who is ready to help save the day and make sure the couples find a way to see that they truly belong together. This character injects a sense of whimsy that irresistible, albeit you may need to suspend your disbelief just for moment to believe in him.