by Lisa Jensen
Published on July 8, 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
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"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."
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.
Oh my goodness, everyone. Captain Hook gets his own fairy tale!
I don’t think you understand how excited I was to discover this book. I’ve always been a Hook girl, and having a story detail what happens after the traditional events of Peter Pan is everything I could possibly want. If you disliked the captain before, you’ll be changing your mind after reading Alias Hook. And while I can’t say this book is faultless in its execution, I couldn’t help but be swept into the Neverland aboard the Jolie Rouge.
Jensen’s tale details a very different Neverland than the one you may know. Peter isn’t so much a child as ruthless boy with a love of games, especially when they involve the death of Hook. But there’s more to this pirate captain than his eternal life in the land of dreams and it’s time he grew up.
The beginning was slow going. For a while, the chapters alternate between James’s time as James Benjamin Hookbridge back in the 1700’s and as Captain Hook in the Neverland (and the year 1950 in the real world). I loved reading his backstory and how he became trapped in Peter’s world but those moments were limited on action and moved at a more languorous pace. This left the first half of the book a struggle to push through despite the interest I had in the story.
But it got better! Exactly around the time when Stella Parrish became a major player. Appearing in the forests of the island with no idea how she got there and, furthermore, no inclination to join Peter and his Lost Boys as their new Wendy.
Alias Hook is a fairy tale, plain and simple. From the story to the writing style, you can’t help but fall under the spell and crave a happily ever after for Hook. It was like watching Once Upon a Time and seeing Hook and Emma (finally) get together. Don’t ask me why it’s so satisfying but it is. For this Hook, Stella is merely part of the adventure as he comes to terms with why he’s been trapped in the Neverland for 2 centuries. You hate him for what he’s done, pity him for his current predicament, and love him for his personality. Stella worked as a perfect compliment because she’s not a simpering damsel in distress but swears, drinks a tad too much, knows that nothing is impossible and that there’s always a way. That was a huge theme throughout the story and at the end became the last piece of the puzzle to send this story home.
I have to say, Jensen’s writing style is beautiful, as if she penned the words between the covers of an old leather bound book. But this didn’t quite work for me. The style was almost too formal and, while fitting well with the story and time period it portrayed, wasn’t the type of writing voice I typically choose to read.
Outside of the writing, I enjoyed the story once it picked up the pace (around the halfway mark) and I struggled to put it down. You gave me a pirate. You gave me a kickass heroine. You gave me a villain I could hate. Everything fell into place except, maybe, the romance added in. Something about it seemed…off. Stilted, as the writing was at times in that over-the-top way. But other than scenes here and there, Stella and James make quite the pair and I almost wish I could see more after that ending (because that ending, oompf, talk about rough).
But I say almost wish because the ending wraps everything up perfectly, satisfying and sweet without leaving room for wanting more. A true standalone.
I highly recommend this to fans of Peter Pan re-tellings, or even simply fans of Captain Hook (like me). This is not the Neverland you know and you’ll soon learn there is more to the story than what you’ve been led to believe.