Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: 5th March 2015
Edition: UK paperback, review copy
It’s not easy being the daughter of Captain Hook.
Jocelyn dreams of following her father - but her grandfather sent her to finishing school instead. When Captain Hook meets his end, Jocelyn sails to Neverland to avenge him. But she hadn’t bargained on ticking crocodiles, lazy pirates and trouble-making Peter Pan...
I’m a huge fan of Peter Pan’s world: the enchanted island of Neverland, fairies, a sinister tick-tocking crocodile and pirates – it has everything you could wish for, and Hook’s Daughter did it justice.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Jocelyn’s story wasn’t narrated by her but by a mysterious, older male narrator. He is a reluctant storyteller; hints at a dangerous, dodgy past; admits a hatred for children; delivers a hefty dose of sarcasm and sass and I love him. The tone he sets for Jocelyn’s adventures delivers of the quirk and fantastical nature that you need when telling stories about Neverland; it hits the nail on the head. And I also really want to know who he is!
But Jocelyn is really the star of the show. A thirteen-year-old girl in London society in the early 1900s has certain expectations. Manners, delicacy, poise and cleanliness – all things that Jocelyn hates. I loved seeing her rebel against her grandfather and then Miss Eliza at Finishing School; she has some serious fun, that girl. But Finishing School is definitely not without its trials. I was really surprised to come across bullying in Hook’s Daughter but I was pleased I did. When issues that are usually reserved for contemporary stories pop up in fantasy/magical realism novels I get really excited, and even more so when they’re middle grade ones. I think it’s important to see these issues dealt with in a less-direct, but equally as powerful and important, way and the same went for Jocelyn’s feelings about her father.
The infamous Captain Hook is, unsurprisingly, not a particularly present father. He’s too busy murdering, pillaging and running from Peter Pan and the crocodile to come and whisk his daughter off on an adventure much to Jocelyn’s ever-present disappointment. And then he’s eaten and she never even gets to meet him, leaving her an orphan. Jocelyn’s loneliness, feelings of abandonment and a determination to make proud the parents she never knew are powerful and affecting and they fit the setting of Neverland perfectly.
Heidi Schulz has balanced the raucous humour of her woeful pirate crew (tearful Mr Smee, an extremely well-spoken lookout who is scared of heights, a one-armed pirate who dreams of actually being one-armed) with the power of friendship, believing in yourself and dropping in ideas of feminism by challenging the expected roles of girls and women in Neverland beautifully. Bravo. I can’t to rejoin Jocelyn on her next adventure.
Thanks to Chicken House for the review copy and sure to check out my stop on the blog tour next Friday!