Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It’s my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy.
Sometimes a book finds you at exactly the right moment. Or, in my case, the right season of life. My particular life is filled with a tribe of wild little boys. I call them the Wild Rumpus and they might not be as unruly as Peter Pan and his Lost Boys, but still, the resemblance is startling some days. So it was not a stretch for me to read Lisa Jensen’s new rendering of the classic Peter Pan and see that the children themselves could be the villains. Pernicious, selfish little creatures hell bent on destruction. And really, what a brilliant treatment of the story: Neverland painted very much like Lord of the Flies.
I loved this book. And not just because the premise is genius or because the writing is clean and clever, but because Lisa Jensen has taken a beloved children’s story and so completely turned it on its ear. Captain Hook as the underdog? Captain Hook falling in love? Captain Hook helpless against a pack of dirty, ragged, flying boys? Yes please!
The truth of childhood is that little boys dance a fine line between wonder and wickedness. I suppose little girls do as well–I just have no experience on that front. But boys? Yes. As my mother says: boys are like dogs, they do things in packs they would never do by themselves. And in ALIAS HOOK, the pack of little boys led by Peter Pan is violent, vengeful, and not a little bit scary. Captain Hook himself is no saint. But neither is he the storybook villain we’ve been led to believe. He’s complicated and charming and two hundred years (or more, who really knows in the timeless world of Neverland) into a purgatory specially designed to torment him.
Then a fully grown woman appears in Neverland against the specific orders of Peter Pan and she not only sees the humanity in our good Captain Hook but enables him to see it as well. This is not a fairy tale for children but my goodness, what a joy it was for this adult to read. After finishing the final pages I climbed out of bed to check on my children, to tuck them in one last time, and offer a prayer of gratitude that Neverland is not a real place after all.
But then again, that’s exactly what adults are supposed to believe.
About the book:
Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.
With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale perfect for fans of Gregory Maguire and Paula Brackston.