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“[His] message ended with a strange warning. The warning was ‘Beware the shadows,’” Louise, Molly’s Mother. - Peter and the Shadow Thieves
Peter and the Shadow Thieves
by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Peter has been having a grand old time on his island, dubbed Never Land, despite some squabbles with the pirates who live there. However, when a strange ship docks looking for the starstuff, Peter’s peace is shattered. He overhears a strange shadow-like creature threatening Molly, and makes a snap decision to follow the ship to London in order to warn her.
Peter is not prepared when he reaches London. He has to keep Tink, his fairy or birdgirl, hidden. He doesn’t have shoes or a coat, he doesn’t know where Molly lives, or how to survive on the streets of London. Obstacle after obstacle gets in Peter’s way. Will it be too late to save Molly from the shadow thief and its strange powers? And will Peter ever get back to Never Land, to rescue his friends who’ve been captured by the pirates in his absence?
Peter and the Shadow Thieves is packed full of adventure from start to finish. This installment jumps from many different third-person points of view, allowing readers to see what’s happening on Never Land, with Peter and Molly in London and with the bad guys all at once. While the changes in perspective are clear, readers might not enjoy jumping from the main thread with Peter and Molly in England to Never Land every so often, as it reduces the suspense of the main storyline.
While Peter further learns the importance of working together, Molly uncharacteristically throws a tantrum, reveals the starcatchers’ secrets, and nearly ruins her father’s important mission. Despite her childish behavior, her father forgives her and thanks her for her bravery, which is not believable.
However, fans of Peter and the Starcatchers will be pleased with the second installment in the series. Readers will get to see all the beloved characters from the first book, along with some new friends and a frightening new villain. Timid readers may have nightmares about Lord Ombra, the terrifying shadow thief, who can steal shadows and control minds. More adventurous readers will be thrilled at the continuous suspense, twist and turns, and non-stop adventure that is thus far the hallmark of this series.
This book wraps up its major plot points while leaving plenty of questions that will leave readers eagerly reaching for the next book, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. With plenty of action but not much violence, this is a great series for those readers itching for more exciting adventures who may not yet be ready for more mature content.
- When a mermaid kisses someone, they give the person the ability to breathe underwater for a short amount of time. When rescuing one of Peter’s friends, a mermaid kisses him so he can breathe underwater. “A kiss. His first, actually. Soft lips, right on his. Suddenly his lungs stopped burning.”
- It’s mentioned in passing that when Mr. Slank was stuck at sea, he had been “forced to kill and eat” the other man he was stuck with “so he could stay alive.”
- When rescuing his friend, Peter is almost captured by Captain Hook, but Captain Hook is distracted by Tink. Captain Hook, “clapped the hand to his eye, which had just received a hard poke from a tiny but amazingly potent fist.”
- A man clouts Peter on the ear. “Kremp scuttled over and clouted Peter on the ear. Fortunately for Peter, Kremp was an inexperienced clouter, and it was not too painful.”
- When escaping prison, “Peter felt a hand grab his left leg; he kicked it free. He turned the key, and the shackle on his right ankle opened . . . Peter kicked with all his strength, heard a loud ‘Ow!’ and a curse below him, and then shot upward, away from the chain and the shackles.”
- One of Molly’s maids threatens her with a knife. The maid “had crossed the room, bringing the point of the knife to within inches of Molly’s face.” Molly is unharmed.
- While trying to escape a shadow thief, a man “fell down the steep staircase, his head hitting the stone with a sickening sound.” The man dies on impact.
- While escaping the men who kidnapped her mother, Molly is grabbed by one of the bad men. Molly “opened her mouth and bit down on [his hand] with all her strength. The hand was yanked away as the owner screamed in pain, and Molly, with a last, desperate wiggle, fell through the hole.”
- Molly’s friend George tackles a man in her way. “Unfortunately, Magill was considerably taller than George’s usual targets; George had connected, noggin-first, with Magill’s right knee. The collision proved extremely painful for both parties. Magill yelped as he skipped sideways on this left foot, both hands holding his knee. George thudded to the ground, moaning, clutching at his throbbing skull.”
- Molly’s father is shot. “Molly heard the shots and screamed as she saw her father crumple to the ground.” He survives.
- When Slank captures Molly, Peter kicks him. “‘Hello, Slank!’ shouted Peter, delivering a high-velocity kick to Slank’s head as he shot past.”
- A bear named Karl attacks the bad guys. “With a swipe of his enormous paw, he sent the closest of the rifles skidding across the dirt like a twig.”
- Peter is shot. “UNNNH. Peter did not hear the shot that hit him; only his own grunt as the bullet tore through his left shoulder, hurling him forward onto the trunk. He slid facedown onto the dirt, wondering why he didn’t feel anything . . . His left arm didn’t work. He rolled sideways and the world became a red blur as the pain suddenly shot from his shoulder, surging through his body.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Sailors are fond of grog, an alcoholic drink. A sailor “kept his face turned away . . . fearing the captain would smell the grog that had put him to sleep on his watch.”
- When a deckhand tells a far-fetched tale, the other sailors “were convinced he must have gone mad, or gotten into the grog.”
- A sailor thinks he sees something strange, perhaps a bee, though there are no bees at sea. In response, the captain takes “him off his ration of grog. He’s too young for grog if he’s seeing bees.”
- A homeless drunk tells Peter, “Sometimes, when I has me rum, I sees things that ain’t there.”
- When they reach London, the captain keeps his sailors on his ship because “once they’d gotten ashore and filled their bellies with grog, it was only a matter of time before they were wagging their tongues about the ship’s strange voyage.”
- It’s mentioned in passing that, “Most of the crew had gathered forward along the rail to watch a bloody, drunken brawl taking place outside the Jolly Tar, a notorious dockside pub.”
- It’s mentioned that “some sailors, having overdone the grog, slept against the wall of the Jolly Tar; one was passed out in a wheelbarrow.”
- A clerk keeps ducking beneath his desk to sneak gulps of alcohol. “The clerk ducked down behind the counter, and Peter heard the sound of liquid being swallowed.” The clerk makes a bargain with Peter. He will mail Peter’s letter if Peter takes his flask to a nearby bar and gets a refill.
- Captain Hook calls his men “idjit” several times.
- Tink is a jealous fairy. She calls one of the mermaids a “fat grouper” twice, and she calls Molly a “cow” twice.
- Captain Hook hatches a plan to catch the boys, and says, “I have you now, you little devils.”
- When Molly’s friend George smacks his head on a windowsill, Tink comments, “Another idiot.”
- Starcatchers are “a small group of people . . . There have been Starcatchers on Earth for centuries, Peter. Even we don’t know how long. But our task is always the same: to watch for the starstuff, and to get to it, and return it, before it falls into the hands of the Others.” The Others misuse starstuff to gain power.
- Starstuff is golden dust that sometimes falls from the sky as meteors and “has amazing power . . . Wonderful power. Terrible power. It . . . it lets you do things . . . It’s not the same for everybody. And it’s not the same for animals as for people.” Starstuff can heal, can make people fly, or can even make people strong. Molly explains that larger quantities are more dangerous and can kill a person, or turn a fish into a mermaid, horses into centaurs, and other transformations.
- Starcatchers have learned the language of porpoises, bears, and wolves. They work together often to find and return any starstuff that falls to earth.
- Some fish on Peter’s island were turned into mermaids by starstuff. “Peter could see the tiny figures of a half dozen mermaids sunning themselves on the broad, flat rock they favored.”
- Molly’s father turned a bird into a fairy, to watch over Peter. Her name is Tink. She calls herself a “birdgirl.”
- Peter was exposed to a large quantity of starstuff. As a result, he can fly permanently and will never grow older.
- A shadow creature called Lord Ombra has many abilities and seems to be more shadow than man. Lord Ombra can read thoughts if he touches a person’s shadow. He can also steal shadows, which allows him to control and/or impersonate that person.
- In an attempt to escape prison, Peter uses his locket of starstuff. The result is that he, the guard, and the other prisoners that Peter is chained to all float into the air and fly for a few minutes before the starstuff wears off. When others hear what happened, “the word ‘witchcraft’ is whispered by the crowd.”
- When a man asks a shadow thief, “Who the devil are you?” the shadow thief responds, “Not the devil, but a good friend of his.”
- When Molly’s father hears the starcatchers’ mission was a success, he says, “Thank God.”
by Morgan Lynn