Title: The Looking Glass Wars
Author: Frank Beddor
Genre: YA fiction, fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: The queendom had been enjoying a tentative peace ever since the time, twelve years earlier, when unbridled bloodshed spattered the doorstep of every Wonderlander.
This review was previously published on my personal blog on July 8, 2007.
Alyss Heart of Wonderland bears little resemblance to the fairy tale Alice we all remember. In The Looking Glass Wars, we have Wonderland to the tenth power – Alice in Wonderland meets The Matrix.
After her Aunt Redd succeeds in taking Wonderland’s throne from her mother, Alyss escapes, led by Hatter Madigan through the Pool of Tears. They lose each other during the journey, and Alyss pops out of a puddle in Victorian England. No one believes her violent story – or that she’s heir to the throne of another world. She is adopted by a family who believes her to be a little girl with a vivid – and frightening – imagination.
Befriended by a minister, Alyss thinks she has found someone to finally believe her story. He decides to put her story down into a book under a pen name, Lewis Carroll. When he presents Alyss with the book Alice in Wonderland, she realizes that he never believed her story, that it had only been fodder for a make-believe fairy tale.
Devastated, Alyss decides she’s tired of being “Odd Alice” and settles in to her new life with the Liddell family, convincing herself that it was all just a dream.
But Hatter Madigan is still searching for Alyss, the rightful heir to the Wonderland throne. Wonderland has changed under Redd’s rule – people live in fear of her evil temper, and Black Imagination is flourishing, while White Imagination has been outlawed. Wonderland’s only hope is for Hatter to find Alyss and bring her back to battle Queen Redd.
This is one of the most inventive books I’ve read in a long time. I literally did not want to put it down! It is wonderfully written and will appeal to lovers of fantasy, old and young alike. It is darker than some juvenile fantasy: unlike the cartoon where the Queen of Hearts yells “Off with their heads!” quite ineffectually, in The Looking Glass Wars, heads roll.
This is the first in a planned trilogy. I can’t wait to read part two, Seeing Redd.