Neverland was first released twenty years ago. Clegg put out a new anniversary edition a few months ago, and I think this novel is one of his best. I read the older edition.
As a boy, Beau Jackson has spent time on Gull Island off of Georgia's coast with his parents, sisters, grandmother Weenie, cousin Sumter and aunt and uncle in the summers. This summer, though, will be different. Sumter Monroe has found new games to play at the old shack he calls Neverland, and the results will be bloody. Are the legends of dead and buried slaves true? And who is Lucy that Sumter calls his god? How will the families pay for the games of Neverland?
Characters: 5/5 [I really loved the earnest character of Beau and the complex character of Sumter. Nonie and Missy, Beau's sisters, are also well drawn. In fact, all the characters are round with their own desires and motives. They felt real to me, like people I have known in the South.]
Plot: 5/5 [Clegg keeps the tension building until the climax. I read this one in large chunks.]
Atmosphere/spooky elements: 4/5 [This one didn't make me look in closets or anything, but the crate and what might be in it as well as the dark visions the children have are hair raising. Clegg has a deft touch with childhood and its fantasies.]
Literary elements: 4/5 [This novel is layered and smart. I love the usage of the word Neverland to mean so many things. The novel makes interesting arguments about childhood and what it means as well as the role of family in one's upbringing. So, yes, this one is what you might call smart horror.]
Rating: 4+ stars ****+
*If you like Southern Gothic Novels, this novel is a must read. If you like horror, you'll love this it, too. Finally, for fans of coming of age novels, this one fits the bill. I like its large appeal, and I love the narrator's voice.