This is a re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa Gardner is the great granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the real girl for whom Lewis Carroll created his masterpiece. But what if he got it all wrong? What if Carroll dumbed down and made the dangerous Wonderland merely magical and quaint? What if something truly horrific happened to Alice and was covered up?
Alyssa’s mother is in a mental hospital and, as the book opens, we follow the daughter and her peculiar artform utilizing dead bugs. Alyssa is edgy, artsy, and perhaps mad like her mother. Or is she? As her mother worsens, Alyssa is summoned back to under-land to face a curse put in place generations ago.
AG Howard has done a wonderful job in creating a dark, sinister under-land. Carroll’s book has a sophistication of language, but the tale can easily be read by grade-schoolers. Howard’s book confronts YA topics including mental illness, cruelty, animal abuse, and sexual awakening. Alyssa herself is no Alice. She has a dark side seen reflected in the character of Morpheus who is her guide in under-land. At times she is attracted to him and at times she is repelled, but she seems to have control over neither. This is book one of what is becoming a popular series.