By Cynthia Ayala
Long ago, a tea party sent Alice to the madhouse, a tea party with blood and long ears. She doesn’t remember what happened, only that it broke her. That was then, this is now, where a fire sets her loose, and alongside her, a beast of power. Now Alice must go on the hunt for the beast, reopen old wounds, and seek out the Rabbit that led her to madness.
Alice is a very interesting novel that Henry was able to put together, capturing the voice of Wonderland and giving it a dark and gritty twist of fate, while also incorporating the real of reality within the realm of madness.
This is such a dark tale that brings readers characters they are very familiar with and shoves them into a dark realm. They are not nice characters, they are the villains in the world of Wonderland rather than the cute animals anyone is familiar with. That is what makes this tale so rich and captivating. This is not the Wonderland everyone is accustomed to this is a dangerous world, and with that knowledge, the reader feels all the tension and the danger alongside the characters. With that, the story stays dark, it remains gritty but it doesn’t lose the wonder that makes Wonderland what it is. It may turn the Wonderland into something frightening, but the fear, that tension, gives it that sense of realism that makes it stand apart from the other retellings.
Everyone knows the character’s in this novel, there are no surprises there, but the humanistic brutality that Henry incorporated into this novel is so powerful and only adds to the richness of the novel. These characters are so well defined and characterized that they are easy to understand. Alice herself is very relatable, she’s a scared woman, not a girl, who is fighting to regain her memories of her tragic past that left her broken. However, she’s not letting it define her. It scared this unknowing, but also learning is frightening as well. This is a very real character, one the reader doesn’t struggle to understand but wants to succeed, and also pities. Henry inspires much from the reader, so many emotions in this dark and twisted tale that it keeps the reader hooked to the characters, and by extension, the story itself.
While this story is dark and brutal, the wonder remains. It is certainly twisted, but the twisted nature of it is what gives it a level of realism without hindering the story and without taking away some of that magic that makes Wonderland what it is.
Admittedly, the ending feels a little anticlimactic, but it’s a solid conclusion that leaves off with hope, and in a world of war and sadness, hope is always a treasure. (★★★★☆ |A)