I was so excited to receive an ARC of this book. And while it’s incredibly different from what I was expecting, it exceeded even my high expectations!
In this dark, twisted retelling of Alice in Wonderland, seventeen year old Alice finds herself in a broken, apocalyptic world. She has lost many to the Plague, a zombie-like virus, and her sister Dinah might be next. When Dinah is infected with the Momerath Virus, Alice will do anything to save her from this fate worse than death. She must leave her home and venture into Wanderland, the dangerous territory that is filled with Momerath in hopes of finding a cure. But the rabbit hole is far deeper than Alice could ever have guessed. And the farther she goes, the madder it is. Can she find the antidote in time? Or will she lose herself along the way?
I have to be honest, I’m a huge fan of retellings. I find them so creative, addictive, and I love the subtle nods and references to the original work. It allows you to explore different parts or versions of characters that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And Sullivan has had no trouble making me fall head over heels for a lot of them.
In The Wanderland Chronicles, Alice is stronger than ever before. She retains that stubbornness and curiosity that we know her so well for, along with her love of reading, but physically, she’s much more adept. She’s able to take care of herself, and doesn’t allow many people to help her. Wary of anyone new, she has trust issues even with those she knows well. She admits many times that fighting a momerath is far less frightening than talking to a stranger. She’s easy to relate to in her struggles, but also carries qualities that are easy to aspire to.
Sullivan’s greatest and most admirable talent is undoubtedly her ability to transform these mad characters into actual human beings that we grow to understand and care for. Take the White Rabbit for example. In Wanderland, he is known as Dr. Waite R. Abbott. It was small but clear nods to the original tale like this that couldn’t help but make me smile. She manages to capture the hectic essence of the character, while bringing out this wise intelligence and emphasizing it. Particularly in this apocalyptic world, he’s a very believable character. But while he was endearing and lovable, it was Chess that stole my heart.
I have to say, Sullivan knows how to write swoon-worthy characters. Chess, AKA the Cheshire Cat, is one of the most beautifully executed characters in the novel. I always was intrigued by the Cheshire Cat. He seemed mad, but weirdly insightful and intelligent. Not quite helpful, but not quite harmful either. I felt drawn to him and put off by him all at once. Sullivan took all of these traits to the next level, adding wit, charm, and an undeniably attractive personality.
The essence of Chess is his mystery. There’s great pain in him, and something that’s a little confusing and dark. Alice is never quite sure where she stands with him. It’s all or nothing, which kind of makes him irresistible. But it is clear that he cares for Alice, and the more we get to know him, the more we love him. He has moments of softness contrasted with moments of an almost apathetic wit. It’s such an interesting mix. And of course, he knows how to charm a girl. I mean, come on! Who wouldn’t swoon if you asked a guy you liked why he stayed and he said, “Always protect your Queen”!?
This book kept me on edge, leaving me desperate to flip to the next page. The pacing was very well executed and I thought the story was carried out nicely. But it is the characters, not the plot, that leaves me wanting more. And that’s why I think Sullivan was so successful.
I could go on and on about this book, but I don’t want to spoil all the amazing twists and details! So suffice it to say that I give this book 5/5 stars and recommend it to everyone. It’s so enjoyable!
I’m also excited to say that I created an Alice cosplay! Keep your eyes peeled on J.M. Sullivan’s Twitter, here for photos! Alice is available to purchase on May 16th, so don’t miss it! Thanks again to the author for an ARC of this fabulous book, and as always, thanks for reading!