Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook



A friend of mine recommended Christina Henry's Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook to me a few months ago.  We were talking about fairy tales after I read Beasts and Beauty.  The way she described it to me reminded me of Brom's The Child Thief (which, even as I was reading Lost Boy, is a very apt comparison).  

In Lost Boy, Jamie (the person we know of as Captain Hook), is Peter's first lost boy.  He knows he is special because Peter tells him so.  But over the years, Peter has brought more and more playmates to their island, and it's fallen to Jamie to take care of them because Peter could care less if they live or die on his island (just so long as they aren't annoying him and he's having fun).  But one day, Peter brings Charlie, a five year old boy back to the island.  Charlie is much younger than any of the other boys, and can't really keep up or play their games with them because he's too little.  So Jamie takes to protecting the little one, to Peter's great annoyance.  And Peter starts plotting in his sly way to get rid of the little one so Jamie's attention will be back on him for good.

This version of Peter Pan is very, very similar to Brom's: he's bringing children specifically into danger, and doesn't care because he can just get more of them.  And like in The Child Thief, the character of Captain Hook is fantastic (although these characters are very, very different).  Brom's Hook was a grown up trying to make his way home.  Henry's Jamie is a boy who is far older than he looks who grows up as he starts to see through Peter's glamour and lies.  Jamie felt so real, trying to care for everyone and keep them safe even though it was an impossible task and he didn't know all the rules (because Peter deliberately kept them from him).  

The supporting characters are also great.  The Lost Boys all had in ways childhood innocence that you can see falling away as the story unfolds.  This was most noticeable with Charlie, though you see it through some of the older boys like Nod as well.  

Henry wove a superb story which I couldn't put down.  I'm looking forward to reading more of her work (and also maybe rereading both this and The Child Thief one day)!

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