This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
I am a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, even though I don’t care for the animated movie and I haven’t read the book. To be honest, it’s more about the world of Wonderland and the Victorian era that I love about the book. Add in a talking cat, some great quotes, and a decent live action (I actually like it better than the animated), and I can’t really find anything wrong with Wonderland itself.
That said, this book is on the fence for me. Let me start by saying the cover is amazing. Absolutely beautiful.
Now that’s out of the way, time for the actual review and my opinions.
Okay, so Alyssa Gardner is a descendant of Alice Liddell (not like in that Disney series about the children of Disney heroes and villains). Every woman in that bloodline has a special gift, they can hear the plants and insects. Obviously, this can be seen crazy, but the family lore states that it is a curse brought down through Alice from her time in Wonderland.
Wishing to break free from the curse, Alyssa goes on a journey of her own through mirrors, rabbit holes, and deals with creatures that aren’t what they were depicted in Lewis Carrol’s book.
For the first half of the book, I was in it. I like the dark elements of an asylum, using art as a therapy tool, and the darkness of Wonderland. It was less whimsy and more mad. Like, old school Fae crazy. It was an interesting twist to Wonderland itself.
Alyssa was an okay main lead. She didn’t seem to be a part of the damsel or awkward self conscious teen tropes. Instead, she seemed to be a bit stronger and more on edge. I don’t think she and I would have been great friends if we were together, but I can see her being a very loyal one to her actual friends.
I did not care for the male counterparts, Jeb and Morpheus. Sorry, guys, but neither of them were worth the breath they gave (in my opinion). Jeb seemed to be too concerned with Alyssa’s virginity to a point where it seemed possessive. I get the protective boyfriend type, but there’s a fine line between protective and creepy. He jumped that line.
Morpheus isn’t much better. I’d go into it, but that would ruin a lot about the story itself.
Which brings me to the second half of the book, I felt whereas the beginning was strong and dark, the ending half was lacking. I didn’t feel as invested in the ending. Alyssa lost her vibe (still strong in her own way, but I couldn’t feel her) and I couldn’t really find it again to feel strong about the ending. It fell short.
All in all, the book wasn’t bad, but I’m not sure I would continue with the trilogy itself. Maybe if I library the other two, but I don’t know.