Captain Hook is cursed. Banished to the dreaming place of the world’s children over 200 years before, he is doomed to play the villain to the infernal Pan and his lost boys. But this war is no game to Hook’s men, former lost boys themselves who grew up, at least until the real world failed them. Now the only way out is death at the grubby hands of the Pan and his boys—except for Hook, of course. Denied any true release, he dies over and over and over again, condemned to remain in this purgatory where the eternal boy always wins. For the Neverland is the refuge of children, a safe place for them to play out their dreams and fears, and the will of its child tyrant is law.
But strange things are happening in the Neverland. A rosebush sprouts on the beach, though Pan forbids anything with thorns. Hook dreams of a flying ship and a friendly voice. And Stella Parrish—not another of the little Wendys, but a fully grown woman, battered by loss and war—appears in the Neverland. Why has she come, and how? Pan refuses to allow any “silly ladies” to enter his domain. And while it is a crime to be a man in the Neverland, it is also a crime to be a woman. It seems, impossibly, that Hook has one last chance.
In Alias Hook, author Lisa Jensen leads the reader deep into the wonder and heartbreak of Peter Pan’s world, and into the souls of the adults unlucky enough to find themselves trapped there. Jensen’s Neverland is very like that of JM Barrie’s, only deeper, darker, more intricate and complex. She delves into the heartlessness of youth and the burden of masculinity, drawing back the veil on a life the innocents refuse to see. Through Hook and newcomer Stella, the loreleis of the Mermaid’s Lagoon, the people of the First Tribes, and Neverland’s guardians, the fairies, Jensen explores sexuality, nuance, and mature love. Hook, Stella, and even the maddening Pan are achingly relatable in their griefs and fears. Hook’s spot-on 18th century language feels at once perfectly period yet immediate and accessible. (And if you are an audiobook listener, Ralph Lister’s narration is superb.) Soaring and plunging by turns, Alias Hook is an exquisitely wrought tale of love, redemption, and the awfully big adventure of growing up.
Lissa Sloan is the author of Glass and Feathers, a novel that tells the story of Cinderella after the “happily ever after.” The Enchanted Press will publish it next February.