The Grown Ups’ Crusade (The Neverland Wars #3)
by Audrey Greathouse
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 27th 2018
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Gwen has returned to Neverland with Peter Pan and the lost children, but this time, the adults are following close behind.The Anomalous Activity Department has plans to finally conquer Neverland by bringing the final battle to the vulnerable island. The children will have to rally fairies, mermaids, and allies from other magical realms to stand a chance against the shadow-casting army of grown-ups heading for them.
The black-coat soldiers are far from their only problem. Lasiandra is missing. No one has seen her since Gwen left her at the lakeside with Jay, and the mermaids searching have found only grave omens in the stars. With the island on the cusp of a war that threatens to strip the land of its magic, the last thing Peter and Gwen need is the ancient flagship that appears on their horizon, sailing pirates straight for their shores.
When the battle begins amid old and new enemies, Gwen’s maturity will be a double-edged sword. She will either grow stronger or grow up… maybe both.
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Excerpt 2: The Ship on the Horizon
Peter! Peter!” Rosemary screamed as she burst into the grove, Gwen and Twill fast behind her.
Peter didn’t seem interrupted. He’d been whittling a pipe at Oat’s request. When he set the project aside, it seemed he set it aside entirely of his own accord. He looked up, but could not distinguish between this frightened tone and the joyful excitement that children so often screamed his name with.
“What nonsense are you about, Rosemary?” he asked, playful and chipper. He had forgotten he’d even sent the three of them on scouting duty.
“Tell him, Gwen! Tell him!”
Gwen was in no condition to do so. She panted, out of breath. The sight of the ship had given her such anxiety that her flight had faltered in spurts all the way back. She’d done plenty of running to keep pace with her frantic sister and poor, confused Twill.
Hollyhock zipped over with unabashed interest in Gwen’s drama. The lost children in earshot came, creeping with curiosity, toward Gwen and away from their play-work. Her eyes darted between them and back to Peter, before she had breath enough to say, “A ship. On the horizon.”
“A ship?” Peter repeated, the word tasting like excitement to him. “A pirate ship?”
Gwen shook her head, lest her weak voice fail her, “No.”
Peter gave her a distrustful gaze. “What kind of ship then? No one sails to Neverland but pirates. It must be pirates!”
“It didn’t look like any pirate ship I’ve ever seen, Peter,” Rosemary told him, and Bracken and Thistle chattered over each other, their red and pink glows jittering as they elaborated, in language far too fast and colorful for Gwen to follow. Hollyhock, however, comprehended it all and launched into a trilling tizzy.
“It was a huge, metal ship. Nothing like a pirate ship. It looked modern. It looked like the military,” Gwen explained. She tried not to let the wide-eyed expressions of the lost children unnerve her as she told him, “It looked like a warship.”
Peter became deadly serious. “From what direction?”
“Sort of the curvy bit from like if they were heading round the beachy part before Cannibal’s Cove,” Rosemary explained, motioning with her hands.
Peter seemed to understand this direction better than he would have precise degrees or standard directions. He looked to the lost children. “Get the others. Let’s go.”
Rosemary fetched Sal, Newt, and the other tunnel diggers. Twill and Yam shot into the trees and made noises like whip-o-whirls in distress, a noise which echoed halfway across the island and brought everyone else back in a hurry. Peter ducked into the underground home just long enough to fetch an ancient sword from the precarious rack he kept it mounted on.
Together, they hiked through the jungle like a herd of skittish horses. Given the somber situation, it seemed improper to fly. The children scream-whispered their speculations to each other, and the more proactive boys and girls began working on their war chants and battle cries. As they went, they gathered a train of fairies who followed them in reverent apprehension.
Neverland seemed imbued with the essence of their collective energy. The draping vines and slimy ground covers hung thicker and slimier than usual. It slowed their pilgrimage down, but benevolent Neverland scrunched its land like a paper map and let them cover the distance faster.
As they broke the tree line, the twittering children forgot themselves and leapt into the air, zooming down the grassy, hilly slope that hid Cannibal’s Cove from view and led from rocky shore to sandy beach.
A dark smudge of a large vessel soiled the horizon, and now everyone saw it.
“Who is it?”
“Why are they coming?”
“Tell them to go away!”
Peter demanded his spyglass from Gwen, and she handed it over. With a little extra twisting and tugging, he expanded it to almost twice the length anyone else had ever extended it.
“Can you see the people on board?”
“What do they look like?”
Questions burbled from the children like a geyser streaming into the sky. They fell quiet as Peter told them, “There’s three ships, at least, and I’d wager not a single pirate sails aboard any of those ugly metal boats.”
“Then who?” Jam demanded, rather upset with this development.
“It’ll be the black coats,” Peter replied. “The grown-ups have found us.”
“How!” howled Spurt, terrified by the thought.
“Stars and bones only know,” Peter answered, dismayed. “But they’re coming now.”
“They’re still so far off,” Twill remarked.
“Maybe they’ll get lost before they get here,” Rosemary suggested.
Peter shook his head, staring at the fateful ships without the aid of the spyglass. The other children passed his pocket telescope around, but could hardly hold the fully extended shaft.
“How long do we have?” Gwen asked.
“Neverland will slow them down,” Peter assured her. “It takes a long time to reach Neverland on sea for those who have never been before. We’ll have four days, five at most.”
Newt turned to Sal. “How long is five days?”
“Not long enough,” Blink answered.
Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at
Author links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads |
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