About the book:
ALICE TAKES BACK WONDERLAND, BY DAVID HAMMONS
Genre: Contemporary FantasyA
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: September 28, 2015
Cover Artist: Amy Chitulescu
Find Online: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads
After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she’s going crazy. Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real. But all is not well in Wonderland.
The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful. But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl?
Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tales are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows. Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace.
With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland.
About the author:
While visiting Cambridge during my time studying abroad, I tried to sneak into C. S. Lewis’s old apartment. I wanted to stand where the old master stood. I wanted to glean bits of imagination that no-doubt still clung to those walls. A locked door barred my path, and I fled to the safety of the campus pub.
It has been my goal to live a life that is notable as the life of that master of writing. I’ve climbed the slopes of Machu Picchu, swam in Loch Ness, smuggled ice cream into China, and made moonshine in my hometown. I studied writing and business in school, and gave up a position in my family’s Black Walnut company to chase my dream. Life, if you make it so, can be an adventure.
Despite all my adventures, there is no greater journey than that which can be found in a book. It was cartoons that got me into writing, works meant for children that as an adult fascinated me with their joyful outlook. It was the old masters, Lewis, Tolkien, Hemmingway, Vonnegut, who challenged me to live an adventure of a life, and then write even greater adventures in books. Perhaps one day I’ll make it into that old Cambridge apartment. Perhaps one day I’ll be invited.
Warning: Some spoilers may be included in my review.
The book starts with the Cheshire Cat telling Alice that fairy tales are real and opens onto a scene of the Queen of Hearts shouting “Off with her head!” Alice is immediately running from the Queen’s card soldiers with the Cheshire Cat floating along with her. While attempting to escape, the Cheshire Cat begins making odd comments (even for him) about the things being told differently. While Alice is clearly confused, Cheshire Cat is plainly seeing an outside reality where Alice’s story exists alongside other stories in a different reality. Or something like that!
Cheshire Cat does a pretty decent job of explaining the difference between the stories that are real and the real world. For example, this Alice is not from the United Kingdom of the 19th century. Instead, she’s from Missouri (Misery, as Cheshire Cat says) and the 21st century. He even mentions that he thinks the 28th century is better because it’s cleaner. If I tried to paraphrase the Cheshire Cat’s explanation I am completely sure I would butcher it, so I’ll let you read his explanation.
Alice returns to reality fairly quickly and, as a seven-year-old who claims to have been in another world entirely, she’s not taken too seriously and then she’s brought to psychiatrists and the like who claim she’s suffering from mental disorders. I now want to touch on the way Alice’s disorders are portrayed and dealt with, so maybe a trigger warning for the more sensitive types? I’m not sure if it’s necessary, but just in case. Alice is originally sent to a mental hospital, then a church, and then, apparently because her school friends encouraged stories about Wonderland, she’s moved to a new school. It sounds as though she was bullied, or at least shunned, because of her stories about Wonderland. The adults seem to be more interested in shutting her up than actually helping her talk through things. I suppose if you believe the patient is suffering from delusions that talking about those delusions might not be the best thing for a patient, but wouldn’t learning exactly what their hallucinations look and sound like help you figure out the trigger? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, but that seems like common sense to me. ADHD and Schizophrenia are the culprits for her delusions, the doctors claim. At the age of eleven, they start drugging her. Or rather, that’s when they start with the blue pills; they may have been medicating her before, but it isn’t mentioned. While it isn’t specified, I believe the blue pill is meant to be Adderall based on the description. “It will help you focus and tell reality from fiction.”
I am very much against medication children unless it is 100% necessary. If I was Alice’s mother, I would quite likely believe it necessary. Especially after the scene where she is 17-years-old and incapable of holding a conversation without sounding like a five-year-old. “Ketchup isn’t sauce. Meatloaf isn’t bread, it’s a broken burger. Can I use honey? I want a salad with honey for bees. How many numbers do you need to succeed?” It’s absurd and, frankly, annoying. My 14-year-old brother is ADHD and this is the sort of nonsense he comes up with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for nonsense, but I like my own nonsense and you can keep yours to yourself! I’m grateful when the mother finally sends Alice to take her medicine and not all that surprised when the White Rabbit shows up to steal the whole bottle of pills. Although I was frustrated by the fact that Alice thought it necessary to go through the trouble of putting her medicine back into the bottle when she heard a noise instead of just taking them and then going figure out the noise, that was also unsurprising. My brother will use any excuse at all to not take his medicine even if it means removing the pills from his mouth if he gets distracted while taking them. Now, while I was frustrated with Alice’s behaviour and I’m sure her mother was, too, I don’t get the feeling that Alice’s mother is at all supportive of her daughter in regards to her mental illnesses and especially not in regards to her dislike of the medications. No one wants to be drugged to a zombie-state, but if it has to happen at least let there be some familial support and empathy. Oh geez, I spent more time on her mental state than I meant to, but it’s such a sticky subject for me that her treatment, behaviour, and portrayal really jumped at me and needed to be talked about.
Let me begin to sum this up by saying that I adored the book. Do you watch the television show Once Upon a Time? Do you like it? Well this book is similar. It’s a delightful mash-up of several fairy tales (oh how I love my fairy tales) and they all have their own quirks and differences from the way we know them.
Overall, I give this book 4.5 out of 5.0 stars because it was fantastic, but there were a few spots that held me up for one reason or another.
About Curiosity Quills Press:
Curiosity Quills Press (CQ) is a small hybrid publishing company specializing in genre fiction of the highest quality. With 150+ titles in our catalog already and approximately 6 new books coming out each month, there’s never a dull moment at CQ. We work with major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Audible to ensure that you, the reader, can find whatever you are looking for at your convenience.
Founded in 2011 by Eugene Teplitsky and Lisa Gus, CQ was initially a resource portal for writing and publishing, created in an effort to help writers, like themselves, survive the publishing industry. After rapid success, CQ morphed into publishing press that over time has solidified its share in the market. Now we spend our days searching for the next great escape!