Posted in fairytale retelling, fantasy, review, young adult

Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D.Hammons

 

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Blurb: “After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she is going crazy. Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realise that the magical land she visited as a child is real. But all is not well in Wonderland.”

**I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The story opens with seven year old Alice running out of the courtroom after the case that takes place in the original story. As she runs to freedom, the Cheshire cat spouts his usual nonsense, this time about fairy tales and their echoes (echoes are how we know fairy tales, and the fairy tales are what really happened). For example, in the story as we know it, Alice is an English girl from the nineteenth century, in this book she is an American girl from the twenty-first century.

She returns to her world only to be told that the people she met, the adventures she had, and the world she visited are not real. She spends Christmas in a mental hospital, gets diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. One line that really broke my heart at this point was: “I told the doctors I didn’t believe ADHD was real. They told me they didn’t believe Wonderland was real.”

Ten years of therapy sessions, popping pills and re-affirming to herself that what she experienced was not real, Alice is finally (slightly) on the mend. That is, until the White Rabbit shows up in her bedroom.  Wonderland has changed and he needs her help: The Ace of Spades is now in charge and the Cheshire cat is dead. It is also later revealed that Ace send the White Rabbit through the rabbit holes and into the real world so he can collect things, because Ace wants Wonderland to be a mirror of our world.

The mad hatter wants things to return to well… as normal as they can be in Wonderland so he tells Alice that she need to seek help from other fairy tale characters to create an army to take back Wonderland. He puts Alice in a flying machine and sends her on her way.

So time for my thoughts.

Going back to what I mentioned about the mental struggles Alice faces when she returns from Wonderland; this part was so well written. To say this happened very early on in the story, you really feel for her and just want to reach through the pages, hug her and tell her that Wonderland is real. The pressure she has put on her by her mother and sister to be normal and go to university etc was just so sad to read.

However for me, this is where everything good about this book ended. The transitions between the worlds when Alice sets off on her adventures were just too jarring and felt kind of like I’d hit a brick wall. She seemed to spend way too much time in Wonderland to say there was this sense of urgency to create an army to beat Ace and the pace of the book was lost because of it.

It felt to me that a lot of the fairy tale characters were just thrown in randomly, without much thought, in order to get people buying this book for the very fact that it’s mentioned on the blurb  (in particular Peter Pan). I just felt like these types of characters were used for that reason and then left with a pretty sub-par story. Now I am all for fairy-tale retellings/reimagining’s but I feel like the idea of “echoes” was used as an excuse just to allow the author to change the fairy tales and their characters as much as they have done.

Also, I don’t know why the story needed to be americanised. It added literally nothing except obviously a location change in the real world. The only way the story would have been affected if the location had remained England and that time period was that there would have been no ADHD diagnosis and instead they would have just simply called her “mad” and shunned her.

If I wasn’t reading this because it was sent to me by a publisher and I had to give an honest review, then honestly I would have stopped reading this before the halfway point. However, it was only fair that I read the book in its entirety.

Overall, a very disappointing book.
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Book Mail

Recently I have been feeling deflated. After graduating university, failing to gain employment in Leicester meaning I’ve had to move back in with my parents, and also struggling to get a job here (especially after having an interview for Lush which was one of the few jobs I genuinely wanted), it’s safe to say I’m not operating at maximum Charlotte levels.  With all my friends (including my partner) now scattered across various parts of the country, and having to give up the independence and the self I spent three years building has knocked me down quite a lot. I have no life here and spend every single day switching between reading and working on my novel, which isn’t a bad thing, I just don’t have that down time to do other things because my closest friend is a two hour £30 train journey away.

On a typical, below average, boring day the post arrived and among the mainstream letters for the parents and the odd ones for my brother, was a package for me. And quite a big package as well. I knew that I hadn’t ordered anything so I wasn’t expecting anything with my name on. But I took it, opened it and this is what I was greeted with:

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A big wrapped item, a small wrapped item and a letter. From reading the letter I found out that one of my university friends, Jenny, (who I’m going to be a bridesmaid for in two years – yay weddings!) knew I hadn’t been feeling too good lately so she’d bought me a few things to cheer me up until I manage to get my life in order.

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Also, can we talk a moment to appreciate that she wrapped the presents in book themed paper? I love like-minded book lovers!

So on to the small package first!
My wonderful friend, sent me these:

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As a writer, one of the many things I seem to be collecting lately is journals. I tend to flit between periods of writing my current novel on my laptop and going back to good old fashioned pen and paper. Either way, I plan a lot on paper, so these handy little notepads will prove very useful when I need to document ideas for my character. Also, they’re Harry Potter themed. Who wouldn’t want Harry Potter themed things in their life??

Next up is the big package, and from years of receiving books for birthdays and Christmas, I can easily identify if it’s a book… and this, my fellow readers… was a book.

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This book is utterly beautiful, and I instantly fell in love, before I even knew what it was about (Well, Jenny did make reference to Alice And Wonderland in the letter she sent with these things).

So here’s a summary from the book itself:

“What happened before Alice fell down the rabbit hole?
Oxford. 1862. As Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, she is thrust into a strange new world. Mary is poor and plain and desperate for change but the little girls in her care see and understand far more than their naive new teacher. And there is another problem: Mary does not like children, especially the precocious Alice Liddell.

When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, the Christ Church mathematics tutor, at a party at the deanery, she wonders if he may be the person to transform her life. Flattered by his attentions, Mary begins to believe that she could be more than just an overlooked, dowdy governess.

One sunny day, as Mary chaperones the Liddells on a punting trip, Mr Dodgson tells the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But Mary is determined to replace Alice Liddell as Mr Dodgson’s muse – and will turn all the lives around her topsy-turvy in pursuit of her obsession.”

It sounds really intriguing and I can’t wait to read it!

You can find my fantastical friend Jenny on Twitter and you can find her blog here

As always, my links:
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