Manuela’s Double Review of “The Never King” & “The Dark One” by Nikki St. Crowe

By: Manuela Soares

This is going to be a double review for the first two books in the Vicious Lost Boys series by Nikki St. Crowe; “The Never King” and “The Dark One“. For those not already aware (like me), this is a dark reverse harem fairytale retelling, meaning that this is a smutty, smutty series that is not for everyone. There is a lot of sex in both books, so if reading that isn’t your thing, you should probably pass on these.

“Today is my 18th birthday and every Darling woman that has come before me has disappeared on this day. Some are gone a day, others a week or a month. But they always return broken, with varying degrees of sanity intact.” – Winnie Darling, Ch. 1, Pg. 9 (Kindle Edition).

I’ve always been a sucker for retellings, there’s just something about seeing someone else’s version of a beloved story that is always so enticing, and boy does this series deliver. My library (unsurprisingly) didn’t have eBook copies of these, but fortunately Kindle Unlimited does. So naturally, I spent a good six or so hours binge-reading the two books; together they’re only a little over 400 pages. 

“The Never King” follows Winnie Darling, who is a descendant of the Wendy Darling. The quote that I opened this review with sets the stage for what’s to come. Essentially, Peter Pan lost his shadow, more specifically it was stolen from him by Wendy and Tinkerbell, and so on the 18th birthday of each Darling woman, Peter Pan shows up and kidnaps them, taking them to Neverland to have their brains searched/scrambled by Tilly, (the current Fairy Queen, daughter of Tinkerbell (who Peter killed in retaliation) and sister to twin brothers Kas and Bash), to find where his shadow is. According to him, the memories are somehow inherited/ingrained in the minds of the Darling women and he’s adamant about getting to them regardless of what it does to the Darling.

Book one ends with the memories being recovered (after a bunch of bs) and the shadow being found.

“The Dark One” picks up the slack that “The Never King” left and beefed it up to a more enjoyable story. This one starts off where book one left off, with Peter opening the box that contained his shadow only to have two jump out. On each island, there are two shadows, one of life and one of death. On Neverland, Peter holds the life shadow, and the death shadow’s location was unknown. Needless to say, both shadows get away and much of the story centers around finding and getting Peter’s shadow back.

There are a lot of other things that go down, like Tilly attempting to kill Peter and take over Neverland, and more characters become more prominent, like Vane (who holds the death shadow from his Island), Hook, and his sister Cherry.

This one ends with Peter getting his shadow back and Cherry locking Winnie in Cherry’s room, where earlier Cherry had found the death shadow, and the death shadow somehow merged with Winnie. So, now Winnie is the Dark One of Neverland.

Now, overall, these books aren’t terrible, but they’re not the best either; definitely could have been combined. “The Never King” has a high overall review score on Goodreads and Amazon (just over average on StoryGraph), but a lot of the individual reviews I saw rank it average (3-stars) or less. After reading it, I have to agree with the 3-star reviews. “The Never King” is a quick-paced but somewhat lacking story that introduces all the characters and sets the series up. Book two, “The Dark One,” picks up the pace, and it’s a more action-packed story than book one; it certainly moves along quicker. Not surprisingly, “The Dark One” has a higher rating overall in comparison: not quite 4.25 stars on Goodreads, and the reviews are slightly better.

There’s very little world-building in this series, which is a bit of a letdown because fleshing that out would have made both books far more interesting, but alas, these are smutty, bingeable, fantasy books where that isn’t necessary. Also, the characters aren’t the best in “The Never King,” but they do get a little better in “The Dark One.”

If you want a decent smutty read that you can consume in a short time, then these books may be for you.

This review will also be posted on Fathoms Amidst the Lines and Goodreads.

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