Reviewed September 4, 2008.
Dial Books, New York, 2006. 358 pages.
What if Lewis Carroll didn’t make up the story he told in Alice in Wonderland? Suppose instead of him telling a story to Alice Liddell, she was the one who told a story to him. In that story, she was really Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland. Suppose her story were true…
Alyss’s last day in Wonderland was her seventh birthday. She was ready to begin her formal training to eventually become queen. Alyss had the most powerful imagination ever seen in a seven-year-old Wonderlander. This was important, because what the queen imagined became real.
Instead of the Cheshire cat Lewis Carroll told about, Alyss’s birthday was interrupted by a part-cat, part-human creature with nine lives, the chief assassin of her aunt Redd, who wanted the throne. Alyss’s aunt Redd burst into the celebration shouting, “Off with their heads!” She battled Alyss’s mother and took over the Queendom.
Hatter Madigan was the name of Alyss’s personal bodyguard. He managed to escape with Alyss to another world – our world. But on the way, he lost his grip on her, so while she landed in England, he wound up in Paris.
At first, Alyss could still create things with her imagination. She could still make flowers sing. But as time went on, as her stories were mocked, as she was taught what was “real” and what was not, her imagination grew weaker.
But after Lewis Carroll published his book of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Hatter Madigan, still searching for Alyss thirteen years later, at last knows where to find her....
This well-crafted book has characters that sound familiar, but have much more depth than you might have remembered. Once I started this book, I didn’t want to stop. I’m going to start reading the sequel right away!