As someone who loves fairytale retellings, I was thrilled to discover this new take on the story of Alice in Wonderland (though less thrilled to discover that there are already six books out).
In Book One of this new series, we learn that Alyss Heart is the young heir to the Wonderland throne. She is forced to run away when her Aunt Redd returns from exile to attack and kills Alyss’s mother. Alyss finds her self in out world and unable to return so she confides her story to a priest in hopes that he will get her story out to the world so she can be found by someone who can take her home. But he ends up getting all the details wrong, thinking to take creative liberties and “make the story his own.” Ultimately, Alyss must return to Wonderland to reclaim her throne.
One of the best elements to the book is the way it adjusts the characters we always knew. Mad Hatter becomes Hatter Maddigan, an agile bodyguard. The Cheshire Cat becomes deadly assassin The Cat. The White Rabbit becomes royal tutor Bibwit Harte (a good idea minus the fact that we now have two characters with the last names Heart and Harte). Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum become General Doppleganger…
The one area where the book is particularly lacking is in the actual magical aspect of it. Alyss’s basic skill is that she has the strongest “imagination” of anyone in a long time. Ideas are created in Wonderland and then sent into the real world and Alyss is particularly skilled at making things up. What are the limits to a power like this? How do you really overpower someone in battle (we saw her battle the Redd Queen but I still found myself unclear on their actual abilities–why not just imagine your enemy dead? there’s no coming back from that)?
This isn’t my favorite series. I will probably buy the next book, but it’s at the bottom of my list, which has grown too long to ever really catch up on.