From impoverished debutante to guardian of a mystical island, WENDY EDAVENE’s life is about to become a fairytale.
Time has always been Wendy’s enemy. Her life has been an endless march of days and weeks, months and years until she can escape her oppressive father--only to find herself, most likely, under the equally heavy thumb of a husband.
Eighteenth-century has little to offer the sixteen-year-old daughter of a bankrupt would-be aristocrat. At night, she escapes into the fairy tales she weaves for her brothers. By day, she prepares for her debut, keeping her sharp mind and even sharper tongue locked under a fragile veneer of docility.
Then Wendy’s family flees London in financial disgrace, and she faces the desolate prospect of an impoverished life in the colonies. But when their ship is accosted by pirate captain JAMES RIDLER, Wendy discovers an unexpected use for her hitherto-unpopular wits: keeping her family intact--and alive. Ridler maroons them on an exotic island with peculiar instructions: wait three nights ashore, while he stays aboard ship, then summon him with a gunshot.
Time, once again, is not in her favor.
Two nights pass. Wendy’s intelligence and ingenuity help her family survive as a list of “impossibilities” grows, including the natives who inexplicably speak English. The chief and his daughter TIGERLILY caution the Edavenes not to stay the third night--to fire the gun and summon the pirates before the sun sets. But Wendy’s parents fear disobeying Ridler, and they dismiss Wendy’s pleas to take the natives’ warning.
When Wendy awakes, her parents are dead and Ridler arrives to reveal that her family was an experiment: this island is rumored across the High Seas to shelter the mythical Fountain of Youth, but adults cannot survive ashore. His suspicions confirmed, Ridler can now ransack the island in search of the Fountain, as long as he sleeps aboard ship.
Before he can force Wendy and her brothers back to his ship, a group of boys--with the accents of London street urchins--ambush Ridler, remove one of his hands in a scuffle, and bring the Edavene children back to their lair. Their leader? PETER. Thus begins a timeless, unending rivalry between a one-handed pirate, a ticking crocodile, and a boy whose past is the island’s most closely guarded secret.
With no one telling her what she can and can’t do or say, Wendy embraces the adventure of her new life and Peter eagerly shares his home--fairies, mermaids and all--if not his history. There is no Fountain of Youth, and yet, on the island, time does not exist. The rumors stem from the island’s magical ability to keep children young forever while eliminating adults, whose disbelief would be fatal to the magical creatures who have made the island their refuge after fading from humanity’s belief. Discovery and exploitation would mean the death of every last mythical and magical creature in existence.
But just when Wendy thinks she has found a home where she can be truly free, a ship of colonists makes camp on the island for repairs. She learns that Peter’s past must be dark indeed, because he would rather let them die at the Island’s hands than appear and warn them away from the island.
Wendy cannot bear to follow Peter’s orders to remain hidden, knowing that would spell the death of innocent people. She could not save her parents; perhaps this is a chance to redeem herself. Jeopardizing her newfound acceptance, she warns the colonists to find another land for repairs. The backlash from Peter, his boys, and even her own brothers is so strong that, devastated, she leaves with the ship, convinced that she belongs nowhere after all.
Back in England, Wendy is a sensation, and her overbearing grandmother whisks her through dances and matchmaking. But Wendy’s heart belongs to a boy with wind in his hair and stars in his eyes, and her old life is an empty, restrictive shell, with time ticking by like the hammer of nails into a coffin. When she overhears a dinner guest, CAPTAIN BRADSHAWE, boasting of his naval commission to discover and claim the Fountain of Youth, Wendy panics, knowing that the arrival of the British Navy will mean devastation for the island and its inhabitants.
She stows away aboard Bradshawe’s massive man-of-war, but is quickly discovered. Wendy convinces Bradshawe that she can be a go-between to the natives. Meanwhile, she makes the most of her time aboard ship, learning skills of seamanship and gunmanship that will help her turn on Bradshawe once they reach the island, which England has dubbed Neverland.
Wendy finds the island changed. Her absence was felt. Peter welcomes her back with a revelation of his past, and the admission that he can no longer jeopardize the island’s safety by hiding in its jungles.
It will take more than a few boys to stave off the eight hundred soldiers and sailors that are now anchored along Neverland’s coast, ready to demolish the island in their search of the Fountain. Desperate to defend her brothers, her island family and the precious creatures she has come to love, Wendy must unite Tigerlily, her tribe, and even Ridler’s pirates in order to outwit, outgun and outmaneuver the navy of the world’s greatest superpower, Great Britain.
And they are running out of Time.