Book review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

A beautifully rendered retelling of Peter Pan, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. Warning: You may end up pretending that this version is the original story you’ve grown up with.

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell(first published in 2016 by Simon Pulse)

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend, Olivia, is with her for the summer.

But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…

Gwen discovers that this new world she inhabits is called Neverland, but it’s nothing like the Neverland you’ve heard about in stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through your fingers.

As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe.

Caught in the ultimate battle between good and evil, with time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to finally face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But can she save Neverland without losing herself?


What an unbelievably lush, gorgeous and thrilling retelling of Peter Pan.  I’ve never heard of Lisa Maxwell before, but after reading this book? I’m definitely going to be looking out for more of her work.
Peter Pan has long been one of my favourite fairy tales and I’ve long been looking for a book that captures the whimsy of Neverland, while also offering a glimpse into a world that’s more than the one we’ve come to know from our childhood.

The best thing about this book so far is that it plays out the results of a question I’ve always contemplated: what if there was more to Hook than we ever thought and what if he wasn’t the villain that we’ve always been led to believe?

And boy, are my questions answered in the best and most satisfactory way possible!

Not only is the world a shape-shifting miasma of contradictions, but Lisa’s characterisations and writing amalgamate perfectly to form a beautifully drawn out tapestry of a world that is both enchanting and deadly.

I won’t go into details about the characters (you should really experience them yourselves), but I will give you a brief little teaser.

Be prepared to meet one plucky and feisty heroine in Gwen (who may be far more than she seems), a charming and roguish pirate who will make you swoon, deadly fey creatures whose alliances you’ll constantly find yourself questioning and, of course, the boy who started it all: the suave, beguiling and enigmatic Peter Pan.

You’ll be immersed and drawn into a fantastical setting vividly brought to life with the skilful brush of Lisa’s writerly hands and creative mind.

It’s a world that’s filled with all manner of monsters, but also one that cleverly plays into the idea of appearances being deceiving. Brimming with magic, heroic deeds and all manner of mischief, Unhooked is a nod to the old tale of yonder, but also a new and darkly beautiful treat for those who have yet to discover the wonder of Neverland.

The best thing (or perhaps most frustrating, depending on your point of view) is that Unhooked has somewhat of an open ending. There’s enough to give you as the reader closure, and yet, there’s more than enough room for the possibility of a sequel – one that I would really, really love to see being materialised at some point in the future.

Either way, Unhooked has definitely earned itself a nod as one of my first favourite reads of 2016.

Go out and get a copy – this one’s a corker of a read.

P.S. I loved this one so much that aside from the e-galley, I actually purchased a physical copy of the book as well.

Source: Review copy received from the publisher via Netgalley.