Alice Liddel was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook.
Wonderland is real. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss’s parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London. Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author, to whom she
tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as Queen of Hearts.
I have to premise this review by saying that I am somewhat of a Carroll Scholar. I have read and re-read the Alice texts as well as many other things Carroll wrote, as well as many critical articles on all subjects Alice related. I am also a fan of fairy-tale retellings. Though old, I don’t think of them as sacred, and love seeing how authors re-write them to fit the current reading audience. So with those in mind, I was very excited to see an adaptation of Carroll’s work.
When picking up the book I was both excited and worried about what was to come. Excited that someone would tackle such a popular tale, and worried that it would disappoint Carroll if he were to read it. But after reading it I thought it was…cute.
I really enjoyed the story. I loved how it linked the true history of the Liddel family, with Carroll and thrust them into this fantastical tale. While it was not a direct re-telling of the Alice story, it did a good job of using familiar characters and themes and twisting them into its own creation of Wonderland. While not Carroll’s Wonderland, it was a familiar Wonderland none-the-less. Carroll’s cute childlike language was mirrored in Beddor’s retelling, and Alyss was the same stubborn, curious girl from Carroll’s Alice books.
I did feel that it flowed more like a movie though. The severe laps in time really bothered me, and while reading I couldn’t help but flash a “15 years later” sign through my imagination. While that sort of thing works really well in movies, I don’t like it in my books. I feel that that space could have been filled with more of Beddor’s fun storytelling, or interesting yet not gory battle scenes.
Overall, I would say it was a good read. It is definitely a quick read, something to breeze through during a busy school year, or when you want to crank through as many books as you can in a summer. It is a wonderful starting chapter book for kids, and a good young adult novel for anyone wanting to escape the general “teen romance” side of young adult fiction.
Review by Lale