on August 20th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQIA, Young Adult
This isn’t his sister’s Wonderland…. Henry never believed his older sister, Alice’s, fantastic tales about the world down the rabbit hole. When he’s whisked away to the bizarre land, his best chance for escape is to ally himself with the person called the Mad Hatter. Hatter—an odd but strangely attractive fellow—just wants to avoid execution. If that means delivering “Boy Alice” to the Queen of Hearts at her Red Castle, Hatter will do what he has to do to stay alive. It doesn’t matter if Henry and Hatter find each other intolerable. They’re stuck with each other. Along their journey, Henry and Hatter must confront what they’ve always accepted as truth. As dislike grows into tolerance and something like friendship, the young men see the chance for a closer relationship. But Wonderland is a dangerous place, and first they have to get away with their lives.
Welcome back to Wonderland.
Okay, so this was a ridiculously fun reading experience. I wasn’t a massive fan of the original book, but I do love the idea behind it and I love Wonderland in general. Any fantastical world will put you in my good books. So how about a retelling where Alice has a brother who stumbles upon Wonderland himself? Who finds himself flabbergasted by the Caterpillar’s inexplicable riddles, and even more stumped by every twist and turn in the Mad Hatter’s frumious monologues (no matter how attractive he might be)?
Step back through the looking glass and you’ll find new regions, where everything is backwards and giants bake cookies and sharks live in trees. You’ll find the Hatter as brilliantly inconceivable as you know and love him, but with a love story. It was kind of awesome and fitting that the Hatter and Alice’s brother should be attracted to each other, and I really liked that aspect.
Most of all, though, I liked spending more time in Wonderland through new and fresh eyes. I liked discovering new places, no matter how horrendous they may seem. I liked how the author was able to channel Carroll’s unusual phrasings and sayings, while still giving it a modern twist. I liked how the Hatter was a key character to the story, as he’s my favourite.
One point of criticism would be that there wasn’t an awful lot going on. Sure, Henry and the Hatter walked through many different parts of Wonderland and that was terribly fun, but a lot of the time, that was all they did – walking. Walking to the Red Castle, walking to the White Castle, walking back to the Red Castle… as much as I loved exploring Wonderland, it would’ve been nice to have a bit more action (interpret that however you will).
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a unique Alice retelling, including Bandersnatches, descend ants and clairvoy ants, curses like “for the love of the Jabberwock’s shiny balls”, the Mad Hatter falling in love, an army made of sugared goods, and a Red Queen even crazier than before. You won’t be disappointed (hopefully).
P.S. Do not drink an alcoholic beverage every time the Red Queen says “Off with his head!” because you will likely not survive. Especially not in Excess Lands.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a copy