ARC was provided by NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (September 1st, 2020)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Poisoning, death, murder, torture, war themes, trauma, loss of a loved one, grief, racism, xenophobia, and sexism
“Something is happening in Wonderland, something bad. That is why they are seeking me out now. And it’s to do with the Queen of Hearts.”
Be still my fluttering soul! I loved this so, so much! I’ve always been a lover of retellings, but this one is something special (I might be a bit biased for Alice in Wonderland). Alice in Wonderland has always been a huge part of my life and even now it plays such a key role into my bookish content theme. So this arc, it’s something that means so, so much and I’m so excited to share my thoughts with all of you!
We follow an older Alice who’s finding her own path in life. Instead of being like other young ladies in Kexford, Alice spends her afternoons with her beloved camera, taking photos, spending time with her Aunt Vivian, or off on one of her many adventures. But one day changes everything, when Alice develops some of her recent photographs, the faces of all her friends in Wonderland begin to surface. With the eerie feeling creeping up her spine and the ominous feelings of the photographs, Alice must find a way back to Wonderland to save her friends from a terrible fate.
I loved having an older Alice. She’s in no way perfect, has feelings of doubt because she’s constantly referred to as Mary Ann, and truly wants to do right by everyone in both worlds. She’s also very opinionated, very honest about her feelings, and has that ‘at odds younger sister, older sister relationship’ happening throughout this book.
“If being naughty saves the Hatter, I will be the naughtiest, most rascally woman you ever laid your unfortunate eyes on.”
We also get introduced to some amazing side characters like Aunt Vivian and Mr. Katz. Both of these characters play such important roles throughout this this story even though they’re just side characters. Aunt Vivian is just like Alice; very opinionated and honest and wants Alice to have the freedom she deserves. Mr. Katz, on the other hand, is Alice’s intellectual match. He speaks his mind and loves riddles. The way Alice and himself push each other is fantastic and Katz’s role in this book had me so excited!
The world building was fantastic, for both worlds. We have Kexford in the real world where it shows the divide between the rich and the poor, the ones who were born/raised in Kexford and those who are immigrants. There’s also a political divide taking place, but it’s not overwhelming to the point of it drowning out the main focus of the book. There’s a lot of xenophobia and racism, but it’s always challenged. Then there’s Wonderland; bloody and war stricken. The devastation is heavy and as you read this book, you can practically feel the threat of the Queen of Hearts looming over your shoulder.
The only thing I think many readers might struggle with is the the consistent switching between the two worlds. For example, you might read a chapter that ends on a cliff hanger and then the next chapter it might say something like “then she work up”. I could see some readers being frustrated with that element. I personally didn’t have an issue with that element. For my own reading experience, it felt more encouraging to read through the next chapters to find out what would happen next.
“I mean, we don’t need a special house for that. We’re all mad here.”
Overall, I really enjoyed this. I was constantly on edge wondering what would happen next. There were many moments where I wondered if Alice would be able to make it back to Wonderland. There were some twists that I definitely wasn’t expecting and I just really loved this book. It was really hard to put this book down and go to sleep at night. This was my first Liz Braswell book, so color me impressed. I have a few other Twisted Tale books by Liz Braswell, so you might be seeing more of these in the future. I just can’t believe I waited so long to read any of the Twisted Tale books. I highly recommend picking this book up if you’re a fan of retellings especially if you have a deep love and appreciation for Alice in Wonderland.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.