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Synopsis: 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.
Imagine for a moment that there was more to the story of your favorite childhood book and more than one side to the tale? Welcome to Lisa Jensen’s Alias Hook, where the infamous Captain Hook is doomed to spend eternity in Neverland and forced to relive his death.
We have good character development, though Jensen does focus a lot on Hook’s character. It makes sense since this is his story. Meet Captain James Benjamin Hookbridge, an educated privateer and the son of gentleman. His father wants him to marry, but Hook wants to do things on his own terms. I won’t go into detail regarding what’s expected of Hook because I want you to meet him and get to know him as I did. Then there’s Stella Parrish, who may or not be one of Pan’s “Wendy’s.” I really liked Stella and she’s a strong woman who finds herself in a world she only thought was fiction. As a woman of the modern era (one key scene involves her explaining airplanes and the role they played in the Second World War to an astonished Hook) and at one time was a governess so she helps Hook manage Pan and the Lost Boys. There are several secondary characters that are important including the men on Hook’s ship. Of course no tale of Neverland is complete without the appearance of Peter. Oh does he dominate the pages!
Narrative is first person via Hook and I just loved his voice! It stays strong throughout the novel and it’s rich and descriptive. Jensen does a superb job bringing Hook to life and letting us spend time in his head. I also liked the way Jensen set things up with regards to the telling of Hook’s past. It intertwines perfectly with the narrative in the present and at no point did I feel confused in the change of scenes. I really enjoyed the scenes with Hook and Stella because both characters tend to really pour their heart out when they talk. As a reader, we really get to know them at their weakest and it’s beautiful to witness. I know some readers might be turned off by the romance or feel that these two are an unlikely pair, but I just adored them. Most specifically, I just adored Hook!
I debated with the rating between a three and four and in the end, decided on a four for one particular reason: Hook’s narrative. If I have a complainant about Alias Hook, it’s that the overall pace of the narrative is at times a bit slow. While I appreciate Jensen’s storytelling, I did feel that we were being set up for a great reveal from the opening sentence only for it to drag a bit. About 70% into the novel, I just wanted the adventure to be over once certain factors were known and this made me sad because at first, I didn’t want it to end.
Fans of Peter Pan may want to tread lightly with Lisa Jensen’s Alias Hook. I think it’s important to keep in mind that when we go to read a book such as Jensen’s, that we aren’t going in thinking about the Disney version of J.M. Barrie’s world. Peter is a child and we’re constantly reminded about that throughout Alias Hook and as such, he’s a naughty and arrogant child. More than once I wished he was real because he truly deserved a good spanking. Despite this, I really enjoyed Jensen’s set up concerning Hook’s crew and the Lost Boys.
Overall, I really enjoyed Lisa Jensen’s Alias Hook. It’s a beautiful magical reimaging of a children’s beloved tale. If you’re a fan of Peter Pan or are looking try a new genre, I highly recommend Lisa Jensen’s Alias Hook. Just a bit of warning: you’ll want to revisit J.M. Barrie’s original tale and afterwards, you won’t see his characters in the same light.