Book Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Title: Alias Hook
Series: Standalone
Author: Lisa Jensen
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Age Group: ADULT
Genre Type:  Fantasy, Historical, Retelling
Publication Date:  July 8, 2014
Pages:  368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

"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.

"It haunts me beyond all reason, an ache in my heart I can't explain or ignore. And it all began with the damn book. There it sits, the crumbling old thing, on the tea table next to the window. I run my fingers over its nubby, embosses cover, the gilding almost entirely worn away, a boy in leaves and a pair of tarty little mermaids. I needn't open the cover to see what's written there; it's scrawled just as indelibly in my memory: a single word, Believe."

Meet the man behind the infamous Captain Hook and fall in love with the not-so-villain of a hero.

Alias Hook is told from Hooks point of view and presents a thoughtful and beguiling look at the rogue gentleman and how he came to be known as the infamous Captain Hook. The chapters in the beginning of the book alternate between lives of Captain Hook in Neverland, and young Jamie aka James Benjamin Hookbridge. We see him become a privateer only to be captured and imprisoned in deteriorating fortress on one of the many French islands. Later he is released with nothing but the rags on his back, he works his way back to Jamaica, only to find that he has been betrayed and lost all those he has ever loved. Angry, he assembles a crew and takes to the sea terrorizing the Caribbean. This young version of Hook has suffered at the hands of many. Angry and vengeful, Hook was born.

But, through Hook's point of view, and eventually through Stella's eyes, we begin to see the many layers to him. A man who has lost nearly everything, tormented endlessly by Pan and the lost boys, lonely and vulnerable we see him in a completely new light.  We begin to understand how he lives this heart wrenching, never ending cycle. One that he knows is futile and with no escape. We see the cruelty of Pan and the lost boys, as children with no moral or conscious. I did not think it would be possible, but I completely fell head over heels for this anti-hero. The villain that needs to be redeemed. Intelligent, kind, and seductive, Hook ensnares the reader's heart before you know it. What happens after the pirate Captain Hook is thrown to the alligator brings a whole new dimension to the story, and Hook's character.

An enchanting and forbidden look at Neverland

Have you ever gazed upon the lovely maps often included with the story Peter Pan and wondered what lies hidden beneath those realms. I have. The kid in me was practically bursting with excitement over the prospect of an author taking me on an exploration into these uncharted realms. Yet, I was nervous that the magic they created as a child would not hold over as an adult. But, they did. I was completely captivated by the magic in Lisa Jensen words, and her beautiful descriptions.

With Alias Hook, Lisa Jensen takes us to the heart of Neverland like we've never been before. As the story unfolds, and Hook and Stella embark on a quest to set themselves free from Pan's clutches and the endless  cycle he creates in Neverland. The reader gets a firsthand look, a forbidden look denied adults, into the very heart of Neverland's realms. From forest glens and realms of glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the enchanted realm of the lorelei's underwater grotto, to the First Tribes and their secret ceremonies, the once forbidden realms open up and their magic and mystery are revealed.

Beautiful writing creates a rich fantasy world and a romantic story that makes us not want to put the story down, wanting to escape to Lisa Jensen's world a little longer.

This is a story to be savored, not rushed. It needs to be enjoyed slowly for all its nuances. There is wonder and magic, as well as danger and death to be found in Neverland. Cruelty and despair go hand in hand with hope, forgiveness and love. Alias Hook feels at once like a lush historical, yet elements of fantasy are breathed into the pages. I was held spellbound by this story, and did not want it to end. It's pure magic for adults!

My Rating: 5 stars. I loved it!

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Thomas Dunne Books in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Thomas Dunne Books for the review opportunity!