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The Monkey Island games:  an exemplary series featuring pirate shenanigans of all sorts, not to mention demonic talking skulls, voodoo ladies, and ships of the damned - as any respectable pirate tale ought.
I was so pleased to be able to read an advanced reader copy of Hook's Revenge which will be out in stores on September 16 this year (just in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day on the 19th). I love adventure books – ever since reading books like King Solomon’s Mines, The Lost World and The Twenty One Balloons as a younger person I’ve had a desire to go off and discover mysterious lands and strange people (off to Zanzibar, to meet the Zanzibarbarians!).

I also love pirate stories. Treasure Island is one of my favorite books of all time. There really aren’t enough quality pirate books out there (though there are some excellent pirate computer games), so finding a fun, adventurous book which was also about pirates really made my day (thanks husband!)

 Anyway, on to the book. Hook’s Revenge follows the adventures of young Jocelyn Hook – daughter of the infamous Captain Hook (who she has never met). Jocelyn takes after her pirate father in that she causes chaos and destruction wherever she goes, despite being only twelve. In an attempt by her grandfather to civilize her, she is sent away to finishing school where Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb does all she can to whip her into shape. This goes as one might expect, with frustration and disastrous results for all. That is until Jocelyn is whisked off to Neverland after receiving a message from her recently dead father (composed before his death, of course. This isn’t that sort of book) setting her the task of taking revenge on the Neverland crocodile in whose jaws he met his demise.

I won’t spoil the plot, but it’s a great adventure with some very likable and some very dislikable characters all very well brought to life. The fact that Jocelyn does have moments where she fails or doesn't know what to do next makes her solid and someone you truly want to root for.

The storytelling moves at a good pace with lots of action and just the right amount of humor - perfect for both middle grade and older audiences alike. The narrator is one of the highlights of the book. He (?) is a rather cranky pirate who dislikes children and is only begrudgingly telling us the story because he’s getting older and the story ought to be told to someone. He isn’t ever-present, but he pops back in at regular intervals to remind us that we really are very annoying.

My only dislike of this book was the representation of Peter Pan, strangely enough. He is a very minor character, but he SO annoying. I would much have preferred that he not appear at all rather than have him be represented as a little dictator and such an ass. It is certainly a new take on a classic character, but I think it kind of ruins him for readers who might potentially go on to read Peter Pan for the first time. Of course, Peter was never completely likeable, even in his own book (“Oh the cleverness of me!”) but then again he was an archetype of boyhood, so who can blame him?

I also would have liked to have found that the hateful little girls at the finishing school eventually got their comeuppance, but perhaps that's something for the next book.

Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed Hook's Revenge, but reading an advanced copy comes with the downside that I’ll have to wait even longer than everyone else for the second in the series.

For more about Heidi Schulz visit her piratey website. To pre-order Hook's Revenge visit Barnes and Noble, or order it to your local independent book store.


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