Author: J. V. Hart
Illustrator: Brett Helquist
James Matthew B. begins his school days at Eton at something of a disadvantage, being the unrecognized illegitimate son of Lord B. in a day when illegitimacy is practically criminal. As if being one of the younger boys at Eton and thus victim to the whims of the older boys weren’t enough. Still, James is not one to be downtrodden so easily, and with the help of his best (and only) friend, Jolly Roger, Jas. (as he prefers to be called) rallies the younger Etonian boys to a legendary victory. Only the beginning of the legends his life will bring into being. All in good form, of course.
I’ve loved Peter Pan ever since I discovered the book, but I must admit that I’d never given any real thought to who Captain Hook was, other than to consider him something of a foil for Pan. Capt. Hook takes the topic of Hook’s early days and expands upon the topic brilliantly. The character developed here is credible, appealing, eccentric, slightly chilling, and consistent with the presentation in the Barrie. In short, this is the same James, but as a youth, full of dreams of a Neverland of beauty and wonder–as opposed to an adult who has found his Neverland populated by a cheeky brat and his snotty underlings. I found it fascinating that, other than in James’ dreams of Neverland, there is utterly nothing of a fantasy element to this story–it reads like a historical novel–yet there are numerous subtle references to Barrie’s work that make the connection between the two stories obvious. Capt. Hook is a brilliant story–read it.