Peter Pan grows up, unfortunately.
Pity Captain Hook: The infamous pirate of Neverland is so misunderstood that playwrights and authors can’t resist trying to explain him. Now Jensen (The Witch from the Sea, 2001) has made him an 18th-century privateer whose exile to Neverland is the result of crossing the wrong voodoo lady. For centuries, he's been trapped in time with the Lost Boys, tracking changes in the real world through the stories shared by new pirates when Neverland calls them home. Unable to die or leave, Hook has resigned himself to an eternity of Peter picking fights with him—until, against all the rules, an adult woman named Stella arrives on the island, and he begins to suspect there's a way to leave after all. Though the relationship between Hook and Stella develops convincingly, not much else does. Seeing Neverland through Hook's adult eyes is the most satisfying part of the book, especially when those eyes are turned on Peter; Neverland shines in Jensen’s descriptions, and her love for the world J.M. Barrie created is evident. However, the attempt to pair modern sensibilities and an antiquated story is uneasy, as for example in continuous references to “redskins,” a word that was not inappropriate in Barrie’s time but is quite jarring in this book. In addition, Jensen has overlaid the traditions of Neverland with a curious mix of voodoo and fairy magic, adding unnecessary complications. The story veers between adherence to and departures from the original text, never finding purchase on either path. In concept, this book is thrilling, and Hook and Stella are both fascinating characters, but on the page, much of the story is either flat or melodramatic.
Peter Pan aficionados may enjoy this revisionist history, but there’s not much to offer the general fantasy or historical fiction reader.