Hello lovelies! I’ve been in the weirdest book hangover/reading slump thing and I’m trying desperately to get my mojo back. I think I’ve just been so busy for so long and now that things have relaxed a bit, my brain has just ground to a halt, you know?! Also, how is there only a month left of this year? This decade?! Having a slight existential crisis over here haha.
Anyway, I have a review for you today! The lovely people at Titan Books sent me this anthology of stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and (even though it took me a while to get through due to life circumstances) I really enjoyed reading it! As with most anthologies, it was quite a mixed bag but taking the collection as a whole, it was a fun reading experience. I’m going to break down my thoughts on each story below.
Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland, in an anthology that bends the traditional notions of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel. Contributors include the bestselling M.R. Carey, Genevieve Cogman, Catriona Ward, Rio Youers and L.L. McKinney.
Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical. There’s even a Wild West tale from Angela Slatter, poetry, and a story by Laura Mauro which presents us with a Japanese folklore-inspired Wonderland.
Alison Littlewood, Cavan Scott and Catriona Ward make the more outlandish elements their own, while James Lovegrove instead draws on the supernatural. Cat Rambo takes us to a part of Wonderland we haven’t seen before and Lilith Saintcrow gives the legend a science-fiction spin. The nightmarish reaches of the imagination are the breeding ground for M.R. Carey’s visions, while Robert Shearman, George Mann, Rio Youers and Mark Chadbourn’s tales have a deep-seated emotional core which will shock, surprise and tug on the heart-strings.
So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking-glass or… But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?
Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman
This was an interesting opening story that initially felt quite true to the spirit of the original Alice story. I liked the dry wit but there were some genuinely awful images that I wasn’t sure how to take. I guess this story is quite open to interpretation which I appreciate but ultimately it was a bit too weird for my taste.
There Were No Birds To Fly by M. R. Carey
This story was slightly confusing at first as it kind of just throws you into the middle of the action. I found it to be an interesting horror concept but I didn’t really connect with it and the Alice connection was very tenuous.
The White Queen’s Pawn by Genevieve Cogman
Hooray, this was the first story in the collection that I really liked! It was creepy and unsettling, and the perfect length. I’m interested in reading more of Cogman’s work now.
Dream Girl by Cavan Scott
This was another excellent offering. The story was ticking along quite nicely, I didn’t really have any strong feelings or think it was anything special and then BAM – plot twist! The ending definitely made this one.
Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier
I enjoyed Marillier’s writing style and would be interested in reading more from her. This was a horror story of a much more human nature; I found the resolution incredibly satisfying.
The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green
I liked that this story focused on a different angle than those previously but something about the writing style didn’t click for me. The second half was mildly better but it never felt very high-stakes; I found it fairly dull and unoriginal in the end.
About Time by George Mann
This was a surprisingly sweet story about monsters and magic. I really enjoyed it, though it felt a bit jarring in comparison to those that had come before. Maybe just because I wasn’t expecting it?
Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em by Angela Slatter
I didn’t completely love the Western vibe of this one but the horror spin was interesting. I don’t know, it felt a little incomplete?
Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers
After being introduced to Youers’ writing earlier in the year, I was excited to see what he would do here. And I wasn’t disappointed. This was one of the most unique stories in the anthology. I loved the psychiatry angle.
Black Kitty by Catriona Ward
I don’t have a lot to say on this one, other than that it was weird and I didn’t like it very much. Oops.
The Night Parade by Laura Mauro
This was one of my favourite stories in the anthology. I really liked the writing and thought the whole thing was so atmospheric. I would happily read more stories or a longer novel set in this world!
What Makes A Monster by L. L. McKinney
I liked the opening of this one; it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also liked the Jack the Ripper connection that was made. However, the time jumps between paragraphs were sometimes confusing and the Alice link was almost non-existent. I’m not sure it was a good idea to include a story set in an already-existing literary world.
The White Queen’s Dictum by James Lovegrove
This story had more of an Alice connection than the previous one which I appreciated. It was decent! Though I did guess VERY quickly where it was going.
Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow
This was the only story in the anthology that I couldn’t finish. I wasn’t a fan of the sci-fi concept (the genre is hit and miss for me anyway) and I found the writing convoluted.
Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood
Honestly? I pretty much forgot this one as soon as it finished. I have no real thoughts to share; it just didn’t make much of an impact on me.
How I Comes To Be The Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo
This was another slightly weird story and sadly, another one I didn’t connect much with due to the style.
Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn
Thankfully, this was a stronger story to end the anthology. I enjoyed the ones which took this darker emotional slant.
The anthology was also book-ended by two poems by author Jane Yolen, both of which were very good.
I feel like the thoughts I’ve shared on these stories come across as quite negative but I really did have fun reading this anthology and would happily recommend it to fans of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale!
Have any of you read this one? Are you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Let me know in the comments! x