Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Title: Alias Hook
Author: Lisa Jensen
Narrator(s): Ralph Lister
Series: n/a
Length: 13 hrs 43 mins
Publisher: Macmillan/Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: October 28, 2013
Source: galley & audio received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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"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.

After the mediocre Second Star earlier this year, I've been on the lookout for a really standout retelling of Peter Pan. Alias Hook isn't strictly a retelling; it's more of a continuation of the story from Hook's perspective. I like Hook. I like him even more now that the gorgeous Colin O'Donaghue is bringing him to life on Once Upon a Time. However, I quickly had to give up on any preconceived notions that I'd be able to visualize him as this Hook. :(

I never expected the pirate captain to be so poetic or so well-spoken, though. This Hook, who is actually James Hookbridge, a privateer-turned-pirate who has been cursed to remain in Neverland for the last 200 years or so, is quite eloquent. Because of his plight and the bit of his history we see through flashbacks, he's a right sympathetic villain. (The story of how he came by his hook is also quite different from what we've been led to believe, but that's for you to discover on your own.) And when Stella arrives in Neverland, Hook becomes an entirely reformed villain.

I went into this book fully intent on shipping Hook and Stella. Mission accomplished. However, it wasn't really their romance that I was a proponent of. Instead, I liked how their relationship affected Hook...for the most part. I don't place the responsibility fully with Stella, but he did become a better man once she was in his life. I just wish their relationship hadn't gone from zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds. It wasn't insta-love but the transition from possible friend/foe to love progressed rather quickly. Maybe it was Stella's fervent wish to belong in Neverland or simply Hook's desire for something, anything different from the constant battles with Pan, but they fell into each other pretty hard and pretty quickly.

I liked how the curse and Stella and the faeries were all linked, how it all came full circle and yet none of it felt contrived. I liked that Hook was the narrator and that Peter Pan seemed like he was the true villain in all of this business, even if that's not the entire truth. This is the second retelling I've read where Hook was the love interest and the third where Peter was portrayed in a not-so-favorable light, but Alias Hook made it so much easier to believe that this might have been how the tale really should have gone.

I don't believe I've ever listened to a novel narrated by Ralph Lister before, but he was very well cast as James "Captain Hook" Hookbridge. He very much sounded the part of a forty-year-old pirate who's tired of his existence but doomed to continue it for another 200 years or so. However, he also voiced the rest of the characters with efficiency and without making any of the female characters too high-pitched or otherwise annoying. If you have the opportunity to listen to this story, I highly recommend it over reading the text. I had a print version for review that I was having trouble getting into, but I had no such issues with the audio.

I feel I should also mention that the ending of this novel is fairly open-ended, with the resolution of the main story arc complete but the future of select characters open to interpretation. (I didn't mind where the book left off, but I know some who need an obvious HEA and like to know that one exists prior to starting a novel.) Alias Hook is an adult novel, and while the story itself might appeal to a younger generation, the prose is so lush and the narrative so verbose -- and some of the situations rather adult in nature -- that it is better suited to the young-at-heart who wish to revisit Neverland, not those visiting for only the first or second time.

GIF it to me straight:

The audiobook has a different cover from the finished hardcover. Which do you prefer?

Alias Hook versus Alias Hook

I think both are pretty awesome and have their merits. But I'm kind of partial to the audio cover. :)

About the author:

I might have been a pirate in a previous life, or else I watched too many old Errol Flynn movies on TV in my formative years. My historical/fantasy Alias Hook presents the flip side of the Neverland from the caustic perspective of its prisoner, Captain Hook. It will be published by Thomas Dunne Books in July, 2014.

In real life, I'm a film critic for an alternative weekly in Santa Cruz, CA, a position I've held since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I also reviewed books for the San Francisco Chronicle for 13 years, where my specialty was (surprise!) historical fiction, and women's fiction.

Find Lisa:

Blog | FacebookGoodreads


  1. I've never read Peter Pan, so I should probably get on that before taking on a retelling, but you know, it's just so tempting to give in to them, regardless. Tiger Lily and now Alias Hook are on my must-read list! I understand both offer something different, but I'll likely get more out of each experience if I just read the original first. Hopefully soon! Lovely review, Jen! You really sold me on this one. Taking Captain Hook and portraying him as a reformed villain (with the added bonus of romance) is exactly the kind of thing I'd be into. Plus, the background and characterization of Stella is fascinating! I'm glad you found this to be a winner. :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

    P.s. I prefer the audiobook cover through and through!

  2. I have this for review, too, but just haven't been able to get into it (or anything right now). I absolutely plan on getting to it, though, and am glad you enjoyed it. The fact that it is an adult novel is what really drew me to this one. I also love the idea of the story being a continuation rather than a retelling, which, from the synopsis is what I figured it would be. As far as the covers, I do like them both, but I prefer the HB. I just love the blue, the trees and the ship on that one. Great review!

  3. I'm about to start the print of this soon, and I'm really excited! Glad you liked it! And yeah, Hook from Once Upon a Time is pretty much the best Hook ever. :)

  4. I love that this one is about hook. I liked both the movie hook as well as hook from once upon a time. The open ended ending has me a bit iffy, but I still think I will give this one a try.

    Great review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

  5. I loved the in-depth back story and characterization of Hook, as well as the strength, intelligence, and determination of Stella. And the careful build-up to these two tortured people finally realizing they are each other's soul mate, and true love, was a wonderful thing to see.

    A superb read, and I hated for it to end!

    Look at Ford Injectors


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