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)!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Estranged: The Changeling King

 I was very excited to get my hands on Estranged: The Changeling King after reading Estranged a few days ago.  This one takes place a little while after the first volume. Ed (the Childe) is trying to adjust to the World Above, and King Cinder is trying to rule the World Below justly.  But magic is fading in the World Below, causing more and more troubles in the outer lands.  And Ed's parents want to visit the World Below to try to make sense of what happened to their two sons.  

While I enjoyed reading The Changeling King, I didn't like it as much as the first volume of Estranged.  To me it felt like a bit too similar of a story - the World Below is in trouble once again, so it's up to Ed, Cinder, and Alexis, along with basically all their friends from the first book, to save the day.  Yes, there were differences - I wasn't expecting the mysterious queen to be Ed and Cinder's mother (I was honestly expecting their aunt, Hawthorne, to make a reappearance).  And the roots of magic were interesting, especially what needed to be done to obtain new seeds (I also misread that part - I thought the Queen said the Royal Family had to give a secret, which I took to mean the price was a secret or a memory, not that the process of tithing was secret). The end had a lot of running around and away from people, which again was very similar to the first book (where they were literally trying to outrun Hawthorne's guards). 

I also felt that this story was mainly setting up for future volumes - the Wild Hunt will be after Ed now, and magic has changed within the world thanks to Alexis planting a seed in the World Above, so future stories will be exploring the consequences of that.  So while this story was fine, I am hopeful (and looking forward to) future volumes!

Friday, December 17, 2021


A friend of mine recommended Estranged to me when we were looking at some new library books (Volume 2 had just come out). So I put Volume 1 on hold, but it took awhile for me to get it (hence I'm reading it a few months later).

Estranged is the story of the Childe, a human changeling who was raised by faeries, and Edmund, the fae who replaced him. When a fae ball is crashed by the evil Hawthorne, who changes the king and queen into rats and takes control of the World Below, the Childe and his faithful golem servant Whick go looking for help. They quickly determine they cannot trust anyone in the World Below, and so go looking for the Childe's counterpart in the World Above.

Edmund of course wants nothing to do with the Childe, fearing he will take Edmund's family (the Childe's rightful family) away. But when Hawthorne's minions attack, Edmund unfortunately learns that Hawthorne wants him dead because he is the rightful heir to the World Below. And so he ventures Below with the Childe and Whick to try to stop her (and to keep his family safe). 

I really liked how Edmund's big sister, Alexis, saw the three of them leaving and followed them into the World Below to find out what the heck was going on and why she has two brothers. She was incredibly welcoming to the Childe while not rejecting Edmund either, showing Edmund that maybe he doesn't have to hide who he is, and that he should try telling their parents the truth. Edmund was always terrified to do so because he was afraid of losing them.

Honestly, all of the main characters were great (and I liked the supporting cast too, especially the Nanny). I thought Ethan M. Aldridge did a fantastic job of showing how the two boys' upbringings changed them while also making them stronger in their own ways (although it was a shame that Edmund's art didn't feature more in the story beyond leading Whick and the Childe to him).

Estranged was at its heart about finding your place in the wider world, including you family. I thought it had some lovely themes about accepting people for who they are. I really, really enjoyed reading it, and I'm looking forward to Volume 2!