(Guys, I opened an Etsy charity shop! Check it out and help stop human trafficking!)
Most of you know that I’m a big fan of this guy:
you’re welcome for the GIF ladies and gentlemen 😉 I’ll try my best to not mention OUAT in this review, but no promises
As can be discerned from the title, this is a retelling of “Peter Pan”. Except it’s from James Hook’s point of view. You know I’m a sucker for a good villain’s story, as I explained in my review of “Wicked”. But to be honest, I have always been more of a Captain Hook fan than Peter Pan’s – that kid is really creepy if you think about it. In “Alias Hook”, James Benjamin Hookbridge is a handsome, witty, educated gentleman from Bristol (I miss Bristol so much) who, thanks to a combination of several quite unfortunate events and his misplaced smart mouth and “pillaging and plundering”, gets himself cursed into Neverland in the XVIII century and is doomed to relive the plot of “Peter and Wendy” for eternity, without the possibility of death. Until one day, in 1950, Neverland’s routine is interrupted by an adult woman. Stella Parrish is a governess from London who’s lost her entire family, and thus begins to dream of Neverland, of a chance to be like a kid again. What she fails to realise, however, is that Neverland is not quite the magical place JM Barrie wrote about, and there is a lot more to Captain Hook than meets the eye. Will Stella become James’ path to salvation or death? Or are they one and the same?
When I began to look for a Peter Pan retelling where Hook is more than just a villain, I found “Alias Hook” almost right away. The title made me believe that James Hook was written as some sort of a “spy” who had to use an alias for a mission to Neverland.
I was wrong. This is not a spy novel featuring a handsome and noble Byronic hero – this is a romance novel featuring a handsome and noble Byronic hero. You could even say it’s a “pirate and princess” story. Except the princess in this case isn’t Wendy (I liked that the author made no allusions to the fact that Hook could be Wendy’s father – I’ve always hated that interpretation), but a governess summoned to Neverland by mystic forces. The fact that she was at some point called “Saviour” made me laugh – Hook does have a type doesn’t he?
Given what I have told you in the above paragraph, it would be a lie to say that the book met my expectations. It is a very personal thing, but I am not a big fan of instances when I expect a novel to be <insert any genre but romance here>, and it turns out to be a romantic story. So on the one hand, “Alias Hook” was different from what I expected, and not necessarily in a good way.
Romance may be a genre of which I am not fond of, but I must confess that I am a little bit in love with James Hook (I’m not talking about the Disney version that I’ve never seen). While I thought that the romance between him and Stella was slightly rushed, with them going from allies to lovers in a disturbingly short period of time, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the sex scenes that featured James (with Stella, as well as others). Shallow as it may sound, James Hook is a very handsome man (even according to J.M. Barrie), and the scenes were very erotic and sensual, without the usual “mush” I’ve encountered in many a romance novel. The ending was not what I expected, and usually I would hate that kind of an ending in a romance novel, but it works in this instance, even though it did made me tear up!
“Alias Hook” it is an excellent retelling of “Peter Pan”. Lisa Jensen’s view of Pan is similar to mine – he is a figure that is a lot more disturbing than most people view him. As Hook says, “he is sorrow, guile, death“, not “youth and joy and innocence“. Neverland is Pan’s disturbing world, where he is King and Hook is his plaything. Everyone on his crew can die, but him. Jensen has certainly captured the essence of both Hook and Pan masterfully – they are both incredibly interesting characters in the original book, and she has done them justice. Hook’s tragic hero persona is what drew me to him in both “Once Upon a Time” and “Alias Hook”, not to mention the original story. He is very relatable to me, for many reasons, and Jensen’s portrayal of him did quite a lot to make my Jamie-loving heart miss a few beats! The backstory fitted quite well with my ideas for his past, and his character development made perfect sense, considering everything that happened to him. Jensen’s writing is very beautiful and is in tone with the eras in which the story takes place. Hook’s ability to verbalise beautifully, with an occasional “Bloody Hell” thrown in, is an integral part of his character, and is a big reason why I love him, so I was happy to see that the author agreed with me on that. The writing and the characters are, I have to say, the best part of the book, and are the main reasons why my rating for “Alias Hook” is 7/10.
“A better world exists, some place where the grown-ups haven’t got to yet. I’ve seen it in my dreams. I know it in my heart. This book ends, as books must do, but there’s always more to the story”.
“The world needs magic, now more than ever. If there is no safe place for children to dream, how will they ever dream themselves a better world?”
“Perhaps one has to grasp at life as lustily as I once did to appreciate the majesty of death. I neither expect nor require a good death for myself; it may be as hideous as he likes so long as it is permanent”.
Dreamcast (no OUAT cast in this one, sorry!)
James Benjamin Hookbridge (Captain Hook) – Henry Cavill
Peter Pan – Asa Butterfield
Stella Parrish – Jill Flint
Proserpina – Melanie Nicholls King
You might like “Alias Hook” if you liked:
“Scarlet” by A.C. Gaughen
“Once Upon a Time”