"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.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
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BRISTOL, 1688: JAMIE
“James Benjamin Hookbridge! What is the meaning of this object?”
My father was a mild man, most often buried happily in his accounting books or off to his warehouse. He did not countenance disobedience, but on this morning, I had no notion I had disobeyed, eager to claim credit for the marvel he held in his hand.
“It’s a ship, Father,” I crowed, jumping up to greet him, glad to escape my tutor. My father’s appearance in the nursery was a rare event to a lad of seven. “I built it!”
For weeks I’d scavenged scrap wood, chips, shavings from the floor of the woodshop down by the stables on our estate. It was a patchwork affair, dark mahogany from the Indies jumbled with native oak and white pine, no larger than a small half-melon, discounting the thin doweling mast and handkerchief sail. But old Turlow himself, the senior carpenter, had shown me how to lap the narrow strips of board for the hull and nail down the deck.
“So I heard.” Father did not look pleased. Perhaps my work wasn’t fine enough.
“Turlow said it was handsome done,” I said hopefully. “He says I’m clever with my hands.”
My father gazed down at me, pale blue eyes stern behind his spectacles. “I shall have a word with Turlow. You are not to go to the carpenter’s yard any more.”
“But … why?” I stammered, horror-struck. My happiest hours were spent among the joiners and planers in that busy place.
Father bent down with a sigh and laid a hand on my shoulder, an unusual gesture of affection. “You are a gentleman, sir. Only common laborers work with their hands.”
My mother always received me with warmth and tenderness when I came to her with my troubles. I recall the armies of tiny pearls worked into her bodice, a halo of fine white dust from her powdered curls, her fragrance of violets and tonic. She was a fragile creature to be cherished and honored, but she had no power to influence my father on my behalf. “You are his only surviving child,” she told me gently. “He only wants what’s best for you.”
But I forgot my disappointments on those grand days when I was permitted to go with Father down to the Bristol docks to his warehouse. How I loved to go racketing around the waterfront, its cobbled streets worn smooth from the horse-drawn sledges that ferried heavy loads to and from the ships. But my father had ambitions for his only son, and shortly after the incident of the toy ship, I was sent off to school to be educated as a gentleman.
* * *
Master Walters was snoring like an army of kettledrums in the next room by the time we finished the Purcell prelude. It was the hour after midday when no one had any business in the chapel and we were least likely to be disturbed. Carver and his mob of bullies were off shrieking at their games. Master Walters, the organist, was sleeping off his dinner of mutton and port, but his servant knew to let us into the study where he kept a harpsicord for his private compositions.
“Bravissimo!” I cried, as we made our final flourish. Four hands gave the music wings. By then I might have managed a tolerable accounting on my own, but it was always more fun with two of us.
“Nay, sir, we have put our audience to sleep,” said Alleyn in mock reproof, with a nod toward the rumbling from the next room.
“Then we have played well,” I pointed out, “for I am sure no one can hear us over the din.”
Teddy Alleyn was eleven years old, two forms above me, and by his careful instruction alone had I progressed thus far in my illicit studies. He’d been playing since he was big enough to sit on a bench, and I treasured our stolen hours playing preludes and airs. He grinned now, and tucked a glossy curl behind his ear with one of his long white fingers. Alleyn’s delicate features and soft curls enraged the other boys; they thought him weak and girlish, harried him without mercy. But he was kind to me. He taught me to play. He was my friend.
“You must learn to get on, Jamie,” my mother tried to soothe me after my first year away, when I complained of how the bigger boys taunted me. They derided my small size, my fancy clothing, a father in trade. My father’s advice was more succinct. “Be a man,” he commanded me.
“You’re certain no one saw you come in here, Hookbridge?” Alleyn asked me.
“No one pays any attention to me,” I reminded him.
Alleyn’s mother paid extra fees to continue his musical instruction, which the organist earned chiefly by allowing his pupil access to his instrument whenever he pleased. It was our only refuge, and Alleyn guarded it absolutely, as he guarded the fact of our friendship, to spare me the stain of our association in the eyes of the mob. Alleyn had a way of turning inward when the older boys tripped him up in the commons or called him names. He neither cried, nor fought back, nor defied them with insults, and they could never forgive him for it. I hated to see him so abused, longed for the power to defend him.
“When you’ve attained my great age, sirrah, you will understand what a mercy that is,” Alleyn said loftily. And then we both snickered, outcasts together, confederates in exclusion.
“Come, what next?” he went on, paging through the sheets of music on the stand above the twin keyboads. “We’ve time, I think, for the minuet—”
A babble of voices erupted out in the passage; the study door burst open to disgorge a gang of shouting boys, Carver in the lead, stout, ruddy, sandy-haired, eyes bright with belligerent glee.
“There they are, the little lovebirds!” he cried, and several of the others made smacking noises with their lips.
“I told you!” shrieked another, as a half dozen more tumbled in, above the feeble protests of the servant out in the hall.
Two boys dragged Alleyn away from the bench, held him fast. Carver himself came for me, plucked me from the bench like a flea off a hound, pinned my arms behind me.
“Don’t touch him!” shouted Alleyn, setting all the other boys atwitter.
“I won’t have to, will I?” Carver smirked down at me, looming, feral and terrifying in the enormity of his power. “He kissed you, didn’t he?” His big hands were crushing my arms. “Say it, Hookbridge! The filthy invert kissed you. Say it!”
I shook my head, but the other boys were all crowding around us, chanting, “Say it! Say it!” like a game. Alleyn stood frozen, dark eyes sad and urgent, watching me. His guards were heavy, pitiless boys, baying with the others, itching to strike.
“No!” I yelped in my impotent outrage, only to see Alleyn wince in pain; one of his captors was twisting his fingers.
“Yes,” I squeaked.
Such whooping and confusion followed this utterance, I scarcely knew what I was about, but that the racking of my arms out of their sockets ceased, and Alleyn’s captors let him go. No such thing had ever occurred between us, of course, but my heroic delusion that my false confession had saved us lasted just until I saw the usher, the headmaster’s assistant, in the doorway, pursing his lips in a very worried look.
“You heard him!” Carver crowed over the heads of the throng.
And the chattering boys parted as the usher came to lead Alleyn away. The last look he turned on me was not angry, nor hurt at my betrayal, so much as resigned, as if he had expected no more. It stung worse than if he’d peppered me with invective.
“Well done,” Carver said to me. He motioned to one of his toadies, a smaller boy clutching the muddy stick Carver liked to use at games, and nodded for him to give the thing to me. “Carry that for me, Hookbridge. Let’s go, men.”
Teddy Alleyn was expelled the next day, collected in a carriage and bustled off the grounds. I never saw him again. But I was taken in by Carver and his mob. At first, I consoled myself that I’d worm my way into their good graces in order to wreak a terrible revenge on them all. But as time passed, I was glad enough to have traded a lie for their protection, bartered away my only friend for a pack of allies in petty schoolyard rivalries. They were wild things searching for a target for their malice, and Carver was clever enough to give them one, else they had fallen on each other.
Alleyn’s weakness had forced me to perjure myself on his behalf, or so I convinced myself. How else could I bear what I’d done? Affection made a person vulnerable, and so I learned to mask whatever feelings might be seen as weak in myself behind a show of bravado, and advanced among their ranks.
Thus my education began.
Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Jensen
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As a huge Peter Pan fan, I jumped at the chance to dive into Neverland once again, though I admit I had some concerns about the author messing up characters I've loved since childhood. My concerns vanished within the first few chapters I'm glad to say. Jensen took Barrie's characters and made them her own, while I feel still keeping true to the base natures of the original characters. It was a fresh tale, an interesting way of looking at the old story, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was torn between wanting to devour the book at once and wanting to savor each chapter as I tried to pace my reading! A tale that balances pirate fun, Neverland mystery, and redemption, its definitely going on my "re-read" list! (Also, if anyone is a fan of the Once Upon A Time series, and a fan of their Hook character, I'd give this book a try!)
Lisa Jensen has written a beautiful and thought-provoking tale. Neverland viewed through the eyes of Captain Hook - it's not all fun & games as in so many past versions. An imaginative re-telling that should become a classic!
What an extraordinary undertaking. Author Jensen has taken the storyline of Peter Pan and shifted it to Captain Hook. Instead of the evil incarnate character we are used to, we see a more fully dimensional person with all his strengths and weaknesses. As well as some explanatory back-story. And Pan? He is fleshed out as a believably self-centered little boy who (no surprise here) absolutely refuses to grow up and fights adulthood to death. I really enjoyed it. Very cleverly thought out.
A Great Version of "Peter Pan" from Captain Hook's Point of View I would like to thank NetGalley & Thomas Dunne Books for granting me the opportunity to read this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Blurb: <blockquote>"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 perfect for fans of Gregory Maguire and Paula Brackston.</blockquote> This version of the popular children's tale <em>Peter and Wendy</em> is one of selfless love and heartrending loss as well as redemption. The two main male characters in <em>Alias Hook</em> are like bits of flotsam, forever trapped in a perilous riptide, clashing together only to be torn apart so that they might once again come together in a vicious cycle of unending strife. Unlike the original tale, this one approaches the story from Captain Hook's point of view. At present the closest comparison of James Benjamin Hookbridge prior to his captivity in Neverland would be to equate him to the character of Angel in <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</em> , before he is turned. Though the son of a prosperous merchant, James had a magnetic quality that allowed him to be viewed on equal footing with members of the peerage. Indeed James is rather like an overgrown child, believing himself to be immortal, and certain he had plenty of time to accomplish everything he ever desired out of life. His continued resistance to his father's plans that he settle down and marry, lead him, in a roundabout manner, to become a pirate. It is a James own immaturity that lands him in Neverland, trapped there by a spell that a voudon priestess put on him. When James and crew survive a terrible storm at sea to arrive at Neverland, they considered it a haven, for it appears deserted. This feeling of safety is short lived after they are attacked by a band of Indian's, followed soon after by a gleeful Pan and his boys. Pan is thrilled to pirate ship trapped in Neverland. The fact that the captain is a tall, dark, and sinister looking adult makes it that much better, for now the boys have someone to fight. Yet 40-year-old Captain Hook is no match for sprightly young boys who can fly, meaning that Pan wins every single fight. It doesn't help that Pan has a fierce temper, which is rather at odds with his sense of honor. The look a feral glee in Pan's eyes when he uses an axe from Hook's own ship, the <em>Jolie Rouge</em> , to cut off Hook's hand actually frightens Hook, for he knows that boys are vicious and brutal, with no real understand of the consequences of their actions. When Hook revives he finds his entire crew slaughtered. Yet the game plays itself out repeatedly over the next two hundred years, during which neither Pan nor Hook age. Each time Hook loses a crew member(s), new ones are found wandering lost on the island, always near Pirate's Beach. When Hook discovers where his crew members come from he is saddened, but as they seem unaware of the situation it is only a Hook who suffers. Everything continues as it always does, with Hook praying for a true death each time he is struck down. Yet his prayers are never answered and he always finds himself returned to his ship, alive once more so that Pan might play his games. And Hook is always dragged back into the games, either because he gives in to his overwhelming bloodlust, allowing that to overrule all else, or out of his desire to try to save his crew from grisly deaths. Hook is resigned to his hellish fate. Then one day a stranger appears. Another adult, though oddly dressed. Stranger yet, it is a female, despite the trousers she's wearing. Hook rescues her and hides her until he can determine if Pan finally got himself a real mother, or if he's set her up as a spy on his ship knowing Hook would take her, or if she somehow found a way through the enchantment trapping him in Neverland. Upon his discovery that she is in Neverland without Pan's knowledge Hook hides her, knowing that if Pan learns of her he will kill her, for she has broken his cardinal rule of no adults allowed. What is Stella Parrish's role in this version of the story? For there is danger in her being in Neverland. She's a new variable that could alter the balance, putting Neverland at serious risk. This danger would not be only for Pan, but for all the beings that sought refuge there, magical and human alike. Should the wrong choice be made all the fairies, loreleis, Indians, and other beings that thrived in Neverland would likely be lost from our world, forever. Once Stella and Hook learn of the danger she poses to Neverland Stella understands just how crucial it is to maintain Neverland for children around the world, more than ever. Ms. Jensen made a very wise choice in having her female protagonist come from 1950; while WWII was still fresh in people's minds, children still possessed a level of innocence that seems to disappear at younger and younger ages in the present day. Had Jensen brought Stella from the modern day the feeling of innocence and childish wonder likely wouldn't have carried the same weight, given the extreme onslaught of video games (especially First-Person Shooters (FPS)), television shows, and social media that kids today are exposed to. Reading books, or having stories read to them, passes out of style at a much younger age for so many kids today, which of course lessens their exposure to the magic that is Neverland, in turn impacting the level of innocence necessary for Neverland to exist. Not to mention Stella may not have been able to summon the necessary belief in the magic of Neverland were she trying to find it today. Back in Neverland Hook is given warning that this is his third and final chance to ever escape Neverland (not that he'd even been aware that there had been two previous chances for him to leave). But can he figure out what he must do in order to finally be free of Neverland? Is Stella there to help him, or is she there for some other reason? Can Hook redeem himself before it is too late, and can he manage it without putting Neverland in peril? To see this well known children's tale through the eyes of the antagonist was certainly fascinating. He fit the role well, for he never really grew up himself. He'd run from his responsibilities, considered himself immortal, and justified all the choices he'd made in such a way as to avoid feeling any guilt over them. Essentially he was a child in an adult's body, or at least he was when he arrived in Neverland. Aside from flying were there really all that many differences between Hook and Pan? Personally I'd say yes, for I don't think that Hook had retained his innocence. Rather he retained all the other parts of childhood and thrown them behind a shield of callousness. He'd had carnal knowledge of women, so right there his innocence was long gone by the time he reached Neverland. So why didn't he stay dead after Pan killed him each time? Was it simply Pan's will that kept him returning time after time? And how could Pan and the other boys remain innocent after taking other human lives? As well written and engaging as I found this tale to be, it clearly left me with some questions that shall stay with me for some time to come.
Those who suspected Captain Hook got a raw deal will appreciate this fantasy. What actually DID happen to the Lost Boys, and was Peter Pan such a playful, fun-loving boy or just a spoiled bully who always wanted his own way? GET REAL!
I loved the first 50% of this story. The second half, I had mixed feelings about, although I still very much enjoyed it. This was such an interesting take on Peter Pan. This isn't retelling, necessarily, just a continuation of what happens after the story we know. There is so much more to Neverland than the fun and games that we are taught, and we get to know the story from Hook's perspective. "He has youth and innocence on his side, and the heartlessness that comes with them. I have only heartlessness, and it is never, ever enough." (page 6) The writing of this story is beautiful. It's the thing that will draw you in. It's so lyrical, and flowy, and gorgeous. I was seriously enthralled by it. Jensen has such a way with words and prose, and that lent itself to the fantasy nature of this book. For me, the writing was the best part of the book. Captain Hook was a 17th century privateer, until he is cursed to the Neverland, where he has spent almost 200 years fighting Pan in a war that never ends. Then one day, a grown woman appears in the Neverland, something that is impossible. Hook takes her under her wing to keep her from Pan, and along the way, they realize that maybe there is a way out for Hook after all. I love that we got Hook's backstory mixed in the story. It was an interesting perspective to see where he came from and how he got to the Neverland. The next interesting thing is that Pan isn't the nice little boy we know. He's cold, heartless, cruel, cunning. He keeps Hook trapped in this never ending game, where Hook can't die. I also loved how we got to see other parts of the Neverland in depth, such as the mermaids and their lair, the fairies, and the First Tribes. They were magical, again described in such a gorgeous way that really made them come alive. I mentioned that the second half wasn't as good as the first. The romance went from 0 to 100 real quick, and was not very realistic. Hook has this obsession with finding a way out, and while that is definitely understandable, it didn't fit well with what had happened before. I wasn't ever sure how to feel about Stella. I didn't feel a connection with her. I'm can't completely put my finger on it,but something in the second half was just not on par with the first. However, this was still an amazing story, and I was hooked (no pun intended) the whole way through. I loved seeing the Neverland from this different perspective, in much more detail. And I loved the end, how it worked for the story but also left things a bit open. All in all, this was an amazing story, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who loves their fairytales. "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?" (page 216)
"Girl on girl."
He went back to pushing his eggs around, not sure what to say next.