Author: David D. Hammons
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Length: 283 pages
Source: Review Copy via NetGalley
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's going crazy.
Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real.
But all is not well in Wonderland.
The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful.
But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl?
Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tales are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows.
Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace.
With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland.
Protagonist: When our story begins Alice is just leaving Wonderland and reentering the real world. After that she's put on medication and goes to counseling to quell these delusions she has. Over time, even she begins to doubt Wonderland's existence, then, 10 years after she left Wonderland, the White Rabbit appears. She's thrown back into a Wonderland she doesn't know, on that has changed and shifted to become more logical and orderly, and has lost most of it's wonder. Alice now has to assemble an army of fairy tales and take back Wonderland. Alice is a fantastic character, at first she comes off witty, but not someone to always take charge, she does sometimes, but you can't really rely on her to lead. However over the course of the book she becomes more sure in herself, her motivations, and her decisions. She grows into a character born to lead her army into war for Wonderland.
Romance: So there's actually very little romance in this book. In fact it's so subtle that I didn't fully realize it was romance until Alice and her love interest kissed. I was sort of vaguely aware but I had figured that it was more that I wanted them together than actually thinking their interactions were intentionally romantic. The romance is good, the characters fit and have some great chemistry, but I just wish it'd been more obvious that they were flirting or that the romantic tension was more palpable.
World-Building: Surprisingly this adventure takes place mostly outside of Wonderland. Since most of the wonder has been sucked out of Wonderland, Alice needs to find and army to join her in her fight to overthrow the Ace of Spades. Along the way she teams up with familiar fairy tale characters such as Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White, and Robin Hood all of whom are twisted versions of the classic characters we know and love. Even though we didn't get to see that much of Wonderland I did really enjoy getting to see this vast world and learn how it works. As I said before, these aren't the fairy tales you're used to. Some have become more modern while some keep the same feel of the classic story they come from, and some are a bit of both.
Predictability: So, in terms of the identities or sometimes dual identities of certain characters, those surprises were pretty easy to figure out. There was a lot of foreshadowing for them and by the time the big reveal happened I either had it figured out or the author over killed on the foreshadowing so much that any surprise I could have had was gone a long time ago. That's not to say that I was never surprised during this book. On the contrary, there were many times throughout this book that I wasn't all that sure what was going to happen and definitely during the grand finale I was so unsure of how everything, if anything, would turn out well to give our characters their Happily Ever After.
Ending: So I was relieved that this book ends with a spectacular battle. With as much build up as we had I would have been very annoyed if the ending just sort of sorted itself out without much fighting and casualties. While the final battle isn't as epic as I would have wanted it to be, it was pretty darn epic, and the fallout of it was stressful enough. This doesn't have a perfect or idealistic ending, I was surprised with how surely the author stuck to the whole "not everyone gets happy endings" shtick. The book does however tie up most if not all loose ends which was fantastic, and while it was a bit sad to say goodbye to this world even after only one book, it was a bittersweet one.
While I really enjoyed this story, I felt the romance could have either been more pronounced or taken out, the foreshadowing could have been less heavy handed at times, and we could have seen a bit more of Wonderland. Other than that however, this book is chock full of magic, fairy tale twists, and all the action and adventure you could want, oh and flying, there's lots of flying!