*I received an ecopy of this book via Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.*
A queer, somewhat surreal “sequel,” both beautiful and sad at times.
Hook is one of my favorite literary characters, and I am always looking for more books about him. And this one created such an interesting dichotomy between Hook, the confident, cruel, dominant pirate captain of the past, and James, the normal man with an aging body, a drug addiction, and a well of grief. It felt like it could believably be his character, and it also felt believable in general.
I didn’t realize when I requested this that it would be queer (mlm), so that was a pleasant surprise! I’ll be honest, pairing Hook with Wendy or Tiger Lily never really works for me, but with one of his pirates? That just feels right. This is not a romance though; their relationship was beautiful but had its difficulties and is told to us through flashbacks and memories, since that’s all it is now (not a spoiler).
This was a haunting take on Neverland. Haunting in its portrayal, but it also seemed to haunt the characters, never really letting them go, always calling out to them.
The vibe was sort of surreal and unsettling. Time was flexible. Times and realities layered upon each other. The characters were unreliable narrators because they felt and saw things, but were they real? Were they ghosts? Were they tricks of Neverland? Were they imagined visions from the minds of traumatized people?
The story itself… The cover, though beautiful, doesn’t fit. It shows a dashing Captain Hook and Peter flying through the sky, and it all looks very swashbuckling. But in the book, there is no Peter. Hook is an old man. Neverland is broken, and only a small portion of time takes place there. And the story is, as I said, somewhat surreal, also sad, more about grief and trauma and trying to move on from a past that won’t let go than adventure. Most of it is slow-paced and internal (characters dealing with feelings), but there are bouts of action, though even those moments are more about the internal struggles and intensity than the physical movements.
I saw some reviews that said you should read “Wendy, Darling” first, others that said you didn’t need to. I decided not to because I just wasn’t interested. I came here for Hook. In fact, I would’ve enjoyed this even more if it had been more focused on him with less about Jane and Wendy, but perhaps there were some loose ends the author still needed to tie up and that readers of the previous book will appreciate. I didn’t have any trouble understanding anything though, so my familiarity with the original J.M. Barrie book was enough (this author’s version does seem more based on the original than the Disney version, from how Peter was talked about).
Overall, this was a somewhat surreal and haunting Peter Pan sequel with a realistic look at grief and trauma and a sad but believable portrayal of the Captain Hook—James—I know and love.
Anyone who likes Peter Pan "sequels," Captain Hook, depictions of grief and trauma, and surreal stories.