Release Date - September 22, 2015
Publisher Website - Spencer Hill Press
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.Origin stories when well crafted can be immensely satisfying. Brianna Shrum weaves a story of the beginnings of James Hook in her début novel that is both satisfying and entertaining. Both a prequel, and a darkly twisted reimaging, this Peter Pan retelling celebrates the magic of Neverland, and makes you look at the villainous Captain James Hook in a completely new and usual light.
When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.
But grow up he does.
And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.
This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.
The world building and set up of this novel is a testament to Brianna's talent. She captures Neverland and all it's magical charms easily within these pages with her writing that is ready made for fairytales. There is an obvious love held for both the story and the characters (even if her love for Peter himself is debatable) and this shines through in her attention to detail and careful plotting. She honours the original story while creating something all her own, which is the mark of any excellent retelling.
Brianna Shrum darkly twists Peter into a quick tempered, insolent child with a violent streak. She creates shivers with the inclusion of "The Thinning", an event meant to thin out Lost Boys who have gotten too old. Perhaps the most impressive thing, however, is even with this twist to his character she keeps the core Peter Pan intact. The Peter you remember is there, he's just also something more and something much more sinister. While villainizing Peter may be the current hot fairytale twist du jour, Brianna keeps her Peter grounded in cannon by using a specific line from the classic as a jumping point. This attention to detail made the character twist feel authentic.
While this may be Captain Hook's chance at the spotlight, he is by no means purified or stripped of his defining characteristics. Hook is still deeply flawed. He grows into a troubled, obsessed man who allows himself to put his version of revenge above everything else. His hatred of Peter eats away at him, and while this version showcases why that hatred exists, it never shies away from the fact that he becomes the man he does as a result. We follow him down the spiraling path to madness and villainy even as you view him differently. The Hook from the original tale is still there, but like Peter, he's twisted into something more. There is an understanding, if not sympathy, attached to him now. He is someone shaped by his experiences, and moulded into the man he becomes. It's a unique look at an iconic character and one that adds extra depth and layers.
The romance included is bittersweet and fraught with betrayal, and angst. This novel veers into higher YA territory with some of these steamy scenes. Brianna even manages to tie the romance into an iconic scene associated with the Peter Pan tale that added a must more heart wrenching layer to everything. The romance was one of my favourite elements of this story simply because it added more to the characters motivations.
A love letter to both Neverland and Captain Hook, Brianna has crafted a twist on the classic tale. Invoking the feeling of reading a fairytale with her prose, this one will appeal to fans of Peter Pan, and fairytale retelling fanatics in general. It's a story that examines what happens when the boy who wouldn't grow up meets the only boy who wants nothing more.