Magical Realism Monday: Alias Hook

Posted 16 June, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Magical Realism Monday: Alias HookAlias Hook by Lisa Jensen
Published by Macmillan on July 8th 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 368

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"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.

This book was excellent. I should start by saying that even as a kid I always thought that Peter Pan was obnoxious. Re-watching the Disney film as an adult made me realize that not only was the Pan obnoxious, he was misogynistic and borderline racist. In other words, he was a little shit. 

So I guess you could say that I was a prime candidate for someone willing to sympathize with the notorious Captain Hook. It’s true that Hook’s back story is distasteful and there’s enough in his past that would probably land him on death row in any number of countries still practicing such things. But this story is not ultimately about Hook’s past, it’s about his future. 

I’d love to see this book become a modern classic in the vein of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. It’s well constructed and the characters are fleshed out and the writing is surprisingly literary. Peter Pan is a little one dimensional, but aren’t all eleven year olds? I think that this is part of the point. Hook’s bull-headedness at the beginning of the book concerning Stella Parrish (definitely a candidate for ‘strong female characters’ lists!) was a bit irritating. I wanted to shake him and say “Come ON, Hook! Can’t you see what’s right in front of you?” Again, the evolution of Hook in this novel is a part of what makes it so enjoyable. English teachers will slap the table and say, “Yes! THIS is what a dynamic character looks like!” (If nothing else, is growing up not an evolution of ourselves?) 

Much like Wicked this is not a novel for children. There are dark themes at play in this book and an undercurrent of despair.

However, this is a book about magic and redemption, the loss of innocence and what it truly means to grow up. 

Highly recommended to those who enjoy the Peter Pan tale, fairy tale retellings, or even people who enjoy magical realism. Fantastic read. 

So Readers, how do you feel about Peter Pan in general? Have you ever though of Capt. Hook as being sympathetic? Romantic? Capable of love? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader


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