Book Review: The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars #1) by Frank Beddor
When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!
Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story – and he’s searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.
The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions of mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland retellings might be some of my favorite out there. I love how the nonsencial world of Wonderland gives such a whimsy, creative, dare I say imaginative spark to those retellings. How could it not? With madness as the backdrop, it’s so easy to create anything.
Frank Beddor takes the classic tale and spins it with more “Bloodier and Gorier” plus “Darker and Edgier” tropes thrown in. Not surprising, considering the title has the word War in it. I love the balance that Beddor struck between the whimsical and the serious. The characters, their antics, and even their names (I’m looking at you, Bibwit) lean toward the whimsical while they’re all seriously mourning the death of the queen/mother and plotting to overthrown the despot that murdered her. That duality felt unique and special, keeping me reading eagerly to know what would happen next.
I loved Beddor’s spin on the characters, with Hatter being a particular favorite. The ingenious way of creating a matriarchal society but still keeping with the original characters was brilliant. I’ve read some other reviews calling the characters one dimensional or stiff, but keep in mind, this is a young adult’s book. And even then, I didn’t think they were that unbelievable. I thoroughly enjoyed the menagerie of characters running through the pages, which really (aside from plot) a great book needs.
I definitely recommend if you’re looking for something fun but heavy at the same time. The unusual balance between the two is definitely worth checking out! 4 out of 5 stars!