The story of Peter Pan is one I’m more than familiar with, having seen the mythos and the character appear in many different forms (Disney’s Peter Pan, Hook, Once Upon a Time….) The blurb of this book was extremely intriguing, especially since the focus was more on the so-called villain of the story of Peter Pan: Captain James Hook, the fearsome pirate captain and Pan’s nemesis. Or, in this case, a man who found himself washed up on the shores of Neverland and was forced into playing a deadly game with an immortal child…or whatever Pan actually is.
I haven’t read the prequel to this book, but I found this to be easy to follow even so. It was so interesting to see the different characters reacting to the time they’d spent in Neverland. I was very intrigued seeing Wendy and her relationship with her daughter. It was really strained and it was really good to see that there conflicts between them that needed to be dealt with. It was also great to see the outside conflicts with Jane training to be a doctor and how she’s had to deal with that, considering this book is set in a time where women were seen as less than men.
The glimpses I had of Neverland were intriguing, especially when it came to James’ interactions with Pan and the role he was forced to play for the amusement of something that is clearly not just an immortal child…though I would have liked some more detail about what exactly Peter Pan was. I also wasn’t enirely sure what had happened to Pan, other than his shadow being sewn back on. It didn’t seem like it had killed him, but whatever he was seemed to be completely removed from any type of reality.
I did find the concept of Neverland existing in so many different times all at once to be really interesting, although it did get confusing at times. And the idea of the characters existing at once in the real world and their ‘shadows’ in Neverland was a pretty intriguing one as well. I really liked seeing the flashbacks between James and Samuel, even though the beginning of the book made it clear that Samuel was no longer in the picture. It lent the flashbacks between James and Samuel a more bittersweet feeling, knowing how things would inevitably turn out.
I liked that this book was just as much, if not more, about the family relationships as it was about Neverland and that shared history. Pan’s beast manifesting itself in their world was a really good way of having more tension in the book itself.
I really liked that, despite his best efforts, James couldn’t get past the shadow of Captain Hook. Even despite his best attempts to remain civilised, it was obvious that Hook was lurking not even that far below the surface, even before it was made clear that James let his darker side out during his time living with the man he loved. That made me incredibly sad, as even if that violent part of him had been there before he was trapped in Neverland, Pan clearly did something to bring that side of him to the surface, making it impossible for James to live a normal life, or even be happy, with Samuel.
The flashback scenes with Timothy and seeing what happened with him were heartbreaking, but I couldn’t really blame Wendy for the actions she took. And just like everything else that happened in Neverland, the past clearly had a lot of negative effects on the characters in the present.
All in all, this book was really good to read and I enjoyed being able to see Captain Hook as, while not exactly a hero, definitely more than just a villain. I would really like to read Wendy Darling at some point in the future and see more of just what Peter Pan actually was.