Proposition: The backstory of one Captain James Cook – a.k.a. Captain Hook – in the realm of Peter Pan is an Urban Fantasy tale.
Now, before you extend the plank and send me off to Davy Jones’ locker, allow me to present my case. Exhibit “A” for the defense is the definition of what qualifies as Urban Fantasy – courtesy of Wikipedia. (I hate having to quote from Wikipedia, but in this case, I pretty much agree with this definition 100%):
“Works of urban fantasy are set primarily in the real world and contain aspects of fantasy, such as the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and paranormal beings, and other changes to city life. A contemporary setting is not strictly necessary for a work of urban fantasy: works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined.”
Exhibit “B” for the defense is a book I recently had the pleasure of reading. Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself is the debut novel of the multi-talented John Leonard Pielmeier.
Captain Hook is well-served by his ‘biographer’
This writer and Broadway director – who also narrates the audiobook edition of Hook’s Tale that is a must-hear as well – explores Hook’s side of the Pan adventure. As you might infer from the title, there is a difference of opinion over what happened.
More importantly, the story involves earthbound – until a certain “sand” is applied – mythological creatures. It also has interaction between normal humans and paranormal beings. Even though the story takes place in the past it still falls under my library’s Urban Fantasy section.
Now, onto the book itself.
Everything. We meet up with a 14-year-old James Cook in London. The boy never seems to measure up to the legend of his long-lost father and namesake. The unfortunate teen is expelled from school and falls victim to a press gang. He wakes up in service aboard ship and heading out to sea.
Eventually, his adventure puts him into position to be rescued from a burning ship by none other than Peter Pan. From there the pair becomes fast friends. But the friendship ends when – what else – a young woman comes between them.
What follows is a well-crafted story, even though it disagrees with the portrayal of Hook by that “lying tale told by a dour Scotsman.” In my opinion actually enhances the original Pan canon. The book is filled with triumphs and tragedies. In the end, the book will have you immediately wanting to go right back to the first page and read it all over again.
Some of my favorite passages involve the origin of Long Tom, the name given to the ‘Jolly Roger’s” canon. Then there is why Tic-Toc Croc ticks and why the crocodile seems so fixated on Hook.
What doesn’t work
No really, what doesn’t work in this book? It is that good that even now, having read it twice, I cannot find a single negative word to say about it. It is one of the best books I have ever read. I am including it in my nominations for this year’s Dragon Awards at DragonCon in Atlanta.
So if you are looking for well-crafted Urban Fantasy that explores a whole new take on an old favorite, Hook’s Tale is the book you need to read.
Oh, by the way. Pielmeier’s next project might be of some interest to Urban Fantasy fans. He’s bringing a stage play version of “The Exorcist” to Broadway. I told you the man was multi-talented.