Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry
Berkley Publishing Group, 2017
Available: paperback, ebook, Audible book
I have to open with a caveat: I don’t like my villains explained, nor do I like their histories to be written. I’ve avoided the film Maleficent for this reason. That being said, there is a very small collection of these stories I do appreciate, the Wicked series being some of them. Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook will be added to my small collection of explored villainy.
Jaime is the first Lost Boy, the first child Peter Pan leads to the secluded island where mermaids frolic in the lagoon, pirates loot, and the Many-Eyed are to be feared. Jaime can’t remember what his former life in the Other Place was like, with the exception of a song he hums every once in a while much to Peter’s annoyance. Peter, with Jaime by his side, brings boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is much darker than the original story relates. Peter promises immortality and youth always, but Jaime remembers all of the boys he has had to bury during his time on the island. The only conclusion Peter’s best friend in all the world can come to is that Peter lies.
What happens when some of the boys start growing up?
Christina Henry’s dark story of childhood and innocence lost turns the story of lovable, adventurous Peter Pan into one of savagery, danger, and the agony of growing up. Peter’s methods for coaxing the lost children of the Other Place into the magical land where boys never age are much more traumatic than merely sprinkling on some pixie dust and thinking warm thoughts. His methods are cold, calculating, and deadly. He’s an incredibly manipulative figure in Lost Boy. He is truly horrific.
Jaime takes on the role of protector, especially when Peter brings in the youngest of the Lost Boys, Charlie, to the island. Jaime warns him he wouldn’t be able to hold his own, let alone keep up with the rest of them. Peter’s selfishness wins the day, however, and Charlie is introduced to his new world. Peter very quickly tires of him and plots against him at every turn. The more Jaime takes care of the smallest boy, the more the signs of age start to encroach. Peter notices.
At first, I wasn’t sold on the horror genre assigned to this title. The more I got into the story, the more I agreed with it, and for several reasons. There is the horror of the leader of the Lost Boys actually being a narcissist and sociopath. He cares nothing for the children he brings to Never Land as long as they love him unconditionally and obey his every whim. This is the most clear when the Battle is mentioned. This is a fight to the death of two boys, or more, who cannot resolve their conflicts any other way. Jaime buried them all. Then there is Jaime’s realization of how he came to the island and the death of his mother. Another horrific aspect of the story is Jaime working through the selfishness of youth and coming to terms with growing up. I don’t want to give too much away, but his becoming Captain Hook feels both horrifying and liberating.
I wouldn’t recommend this for children, but for those of you who want to revisit your childhood through a different lens, pick up Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook. It will make you think about the original story in a very different way. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to reread Peter Pan… Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Lizzy Walker
Contains: blood, gore, violence