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14 Sep 2012

Review: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

I may be over-reviewing this month so I can get up-to-date with what I've read on my TBR list and start the horror reviews for October. =D Today:

You know the myth... A little girl named Alice tumbled down a rabbit hole and proceeded to have a charming adventure in the delightful, made-up world of Wonderland...

Now discover the truth... Wonderland Exists!

Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, was forced to flee through the Pool of Tears after a bloody palace coup staged by the murderous Redd. 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 only to see it published as the nonsensical Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alyss had trusted Lewis Carroll to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere would find her and bring her home. But Carroll had gotten it all wrong. He even misspelled her name! If not for royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan's nonstop search to locate the lost princess, Alyss may have become just another society woman sipping tea in a too-tight corset instead of returning to Wonderland to fight Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

Meet the heroic, passionate, monstrous, vengeful denizens of this parallel world as they battle each other with AD-52's and orb generators, navigate the Crystal Continuum, bet on jabberwock fights and travel across the Chessboard Desert.

Where do I start with the praise? I devoured this book and I knew I would just based on the idea.  Wonderland is real and Alice has to return to a place she convinced herself was false? Awesomeness! I'm a sucker for retellings and putting a spin on classic stories.

The concept of Wonderland is unique yet it's also familiar, which I appreciated because it didn't seem like it was moving away from what I see as Wonderland.  Beddor is giving the impression that Wonderland is actually real and while he tries to separate what we know about the characters and the world from Carroll's book, he still gives them the nonsensical traits that we have come to know and love about the world. Wonderland is still ridiculous at times and I like that Beddor didn't diverge completely from the world Carroll created.

The world-building is vivid with it's darkest parts and powers.  Imagination is just as important and powerful in Wonderland which I was quite amused at since it took a lot of imagination for Beddor and Carroll to create these tales.  As a writer I enjoyed this power and loved how Beddor explored what it can do and how deadly it can be.  In the world itself there is the dazzling city of Wondertropolis but there is also the Jaberwock infested Volcanic Plains and the Valley of the Mushrooms where the caterpillars live. Ha! I loved that.  The questionable drug references are still a huge part of Wonderland. =D Imagination has it's white magic and black magic.  It's both a fantastical and deadly place.

Each character is fascinating and bizarre. The Mad Hatter becomes Hatter Madigan, a fierce soldier whose hat can be the most deadliest weapon. He's not as loony as The Mad Hatter but there are times when he does seem a little unstable.  Definitely not as eccentric as Carroll's character. 

Alyss (AKA Alice) is still just as curious and odd with her ponderings and perception of things. Her imagination still plays a key role in everything around her, being a powerful ability in Wonderland.  I loved her as a heroine.  There's lots to learn as a future queen but mentally she's strong.  Just like the young girl in Carroll's books she's articulate and free-thinking who is determined to hold on to Wonderland and her memories even if she's almost giving up on getting back home.  She's always her own person, even when she decides to give up and blend into society.  She's lost her Wonderland but she hasn't lost her intelligence and mind.

My favourite little twist was the characters of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum becoming General Doppelganger.  A character who can split into Generals Doppel and Ganger. I loved seeing how Beddor created his own idea of the characters to show how Carroll may have drawn inspiration for the ones in his book.  Clever and familiar.

It's a fantastic read so if you find it, grab it!