A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll…

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

Judging A Book By Its Cover:

First of all, this cover is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.  The colours bring to mind the classic tale that inspired this one, and the blot of ink over the Rabbit’s eye is a beautiful bit of foreshadowing of a horrific something that quickly becomes apparent in the story itself.

All About That Blurb:
“Mind-bending”, Alice, in an asylum, in a world where the Rabbit is oh-so-real, and a terrible darkness that has escaped along with her? Oh yes, please!

Getting To The Meat And Potatoes:

As a huge fan of the original Lewis Carroll tale, I saw this book advertised on Facebook, and knew that I had to have it (A+ marketing btw — I bought this immediately upon seeing the advert.). Whether you’re a fan of  Lewis Carroll, or of the Disney Classic, or of Johnny Depp  Tim Burton, this book is an excellent take on the original mythos that we’ve all come to know as Alice In Wonderland.

Of course, as a fan of All Things Romance, I immediately honed in on the potential romance between Alice and Hatcher, and even though this was a far cry from the explicit love stories that I normally read, I have to admit that their chaste love was quite satisfying.   Don’t get me wrong — this is probably the most dysfunctional romance that I’ve read since 50 Shades of Grey. Hatcher is much closer to Dexter  than he is to any traditional romance hero, and yet, he’s far more fascinating.   Sexy, protective, and certainly dangerous, one of the most romantic things he does is to promise Alice a swift death should they be overcome by their enemies.  Never before has a threat of murder been quite so attractive.

But I digress.  Beyond the somewhat  dysfunctional potential romance between Hatcher and Alice, lies the real heart of this story; one that is never really addressed properly — is Alice really mad, or is she truly far more than a girl who has been driven insane by the terrible events that have befallen her?

You see, even setting aside the gory violence, the unconventional romance, and the horrors that Alice faces both in her past and in her present, lies the most intriguing puzzle of all:  Is what you’re reading actually occurring, or are you simply being taken along for the ride on Alice’s completely  hallucinogenic fever-dreams?  Do Magicians really exist? Is the Jabberwocky real, and walking the streets of the Old City, ready to consume anyone in his wake? Or are the Rabbit, the Caterpillar, and the Walrus simply ways that the damaged mind of a traumatized young girl has learned to cope with the horrors that life has dealt to her?

That, my friends, is what’s really so wonderful about this story. We never truly learn if the world that Alice lives in is organized into such a social hierarchy, with Magicians outlawed, and evil such as the Jabberwocky able to run free.

You, as the reader, can choose to believe that Alice was unfairly labeled as mad, and thrown into the Asylum as a result of the fear and misunderstanding that she inspired in those around her after a bloody escape from the Street Boss who raped her. Alternately, you can read this from the perspective that an unfortunate girl has been sold into sexual slavery by a girl she thought to be her best friend, abused horribly, and then upon her escape, was so traumatized by those events that she ended up in an asylum where her fractured mind struggled to make sense of all that had happened to her.

This is not a whimsical tale.  Alice’s story is not a happy one. Very Bad Things have happened to her, and will happen to her again in the future if she is not very careful, and her response to them is certainly not to turn the other cheek.  There is violence. There is gore. There is betrayal, and terror, and rape.  This is not a Disney Classic where a young girl falls asleep under a tree and has the most amazing dream. Instead, we are treated to a very intense roller-coaster ride of abuse and love and betrayal and redemption, all wrapped up in the mystery of just what really happened to this unfortunate girl.

In The End: 

Just as in the original tale by Lewis Carroll, I find myself quite unconcerned with the question of whether or not Alice’s fractured mind is creating the entire escapade.  The narrative is beautifully written, with just enough references to the original tale to be familiar to fans, yet original enough to keep the reader entranced through the entire experience.

Of course, as a fan of romance, I do wish that the relationship between Alice and Hatcher had been allowed to mature a little more — yet this is a very minor point of contention for me, since Alice’s background in this story lends credence to a much more cautious approach to any new relationship.

I adored Hatcher, who is truly murderous and not even close to sane, and his protectiveness of Alice was completely swoon-worthy.

Another point I must touch on is the ending; I think that a lot of people are going to either love it, or loathe it — as I don’t think anyone could have quite predicted what would happen during the final showdown.  However, I truly believe that any other ending would have been wholly unjust, both for Alice and the reader.  As unconventional as it may have been, it fit beautifully in with the story as it had unfolded up to that point.

In the end, though, I have found myself already telling everyone I know that they must read this book. And for that, it receives my highest, and rarest,  rating.

5/5 Stars