I decided to write Unhooked because I thought it would be fun to write a pirate book, but I didn’t want to write a high-seas historical. After doing some digging, I came up with the idea of retelling Peter Pan, so I went and read the original Peter and Wendy. What I found really surprised me. I’d been raised on Disney’s version of Peter Pan, on the movie Hook, on the old musical with a girl dressed in the Peter Pan role. In all of these, Captain Hook is the bad guy, but he’s not really that sinister. In all of those, Peter Pan is definitely the good guy. But as I read the original story, I realized that a lot of the original darkness had been lost. In the original Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan is no one a kid should feel safe flying off with. He’s fun and all, but he’s not safe.
That made me think a lot about the idea of stories: how we believe them, how they can lie to us. How they can tell us the truth even when they lie. Because I was intrigued by the way we don’t know the story, I had free reign to play, to bring back that darkness. So here are five was Unhooked is nothing like the Neverland you think you know:
5. The Fairies Will Eat You:
Seriously. This is way more than Tinker Bell being a little jealous of Wendy. The Fey creatures in Unhooked are directed by desire, and more often than not, what they desire most is to get rid of any humans in their way. Or maybe to make them into a light snack. The light Fey might be beautiful, they might even be on our side, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that a human life means anything to them. At all.
4. There’s No Singing:
If you’re looking for pixie dust and thinking happy thoughts, this isn’t the place. Neverland may be a world that’s lush and magical, but no one is going to be breaking out into song. They’re too busy trying to stay alive.
3. You’ll Forget Who You Are:
Technically, this isn’t new. In Peter and Wendy, Barrie’s Neverland is a place where the kids forget where they’re from, who they are, and even who they killed the other day. The Neverland in Unhooked brings this aspect of Neverland back and intensifies it. Neverland isn’t a place for memory, and the longer Gwen stays, the more at risk she is for forgetting that home is anywhere but Neverland itself. And if she can’t remember where she’s from, how can she ever get back?
2. You’re Going to Want to Kiss a Pirate:
Yes, you. This Neverland doesn’t have the bumbling pirates that Disney made us all familiar with. The boys on the Captain’s ship are cut throats and not to be trusted, but they’re also young and roughish with just enough charm to make you fall hard. Especially the Captain.
1. Pan Has a Secret:
In the Neverland of Unhooked, nothing is as it first appears, and that includes Peter Pan. But his secret is one that might destroy them all. Let’s just say, you shouldn’t put too much faith in the stories.