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Book Review: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

You guys all know I love fairytale retellings, and Alice in Wonderland is always a fun one.

When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss' story - and he's searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.


Confession: I know this is a little bit of an older book, but I've had it for a while and just now got to it. My bookshelves are not as organized as they should be and I may have forgotten I had it. But there are few things more fun than a reinterpretation of Wonderland so when I realized I had it and still hadn't read it I jumped right in. And it lived up to the fun right away; 7-year-old Alyss is princess of Wonderland and gets into all the antics of any 7-year-old--with a magical twist, of course--but danger is on the horizon in the form of her vengeful aunt Redd. The new spin on familiar characters--from a rabbit-eared tutor to a royal guard with a weaponized top hat--was endlessly interesting to see, and the author perfectly captured the whimsy of the classic Wonderland we all know without sacrificing a grown-up edge.

Unfortunately while creativity is far from lacking in this book, the writing fell flat. Alyss's journey from idealistic princess to warrior should have been thrilling but the lack of emotion, and lack of detail in places, left it bland. The story felt too rushed to allow for much suspense or excitement, and the amount of "telling" made the problem worse. As interesting as the concepts of the characters were, I found it hard to connect with them. Reading the book felt more like being told a summary of a story rather than being pulled into the world and living it. Certainly a disappointment given the potential I saw from early on. It wasn't unpleasant to read by any means, but it never quite got that wow factor that pulls me into a story. The Looking Glass Wars is a winner if you want some inspiration to get your creative worldbuilding juices going, but if you want to escape into a new adventure in Wonderland, maybe not the best choice.

Final score: 2.5 stars

Decide for yourself - buy The Looking Glass Wars here!

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