The Looking Glass Wars: by Frank Beddor

Posted: September 29, 2013 in Book Review
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Reading this book was a long time coming. My friend loaned it to me months ago, as in last June, and I put it into the pile to be read. My sister then saw it laying in the pile and said, “This looks pretty cool. Can I borrow it?” She finished it within a week and asked if my friend had the sequel. This doesn’t typically happen. My sister isn’t a big reader so for her to pick something up of her own free will and then request the next one means a lot. She then pestered me about whether I had read it or not for weeks after.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor is a book that requires a certain mindset to get into, but maybe it was just me. I was never a huge Wonderland fan. I didn’t really care for the Disney animation, the live action ones were interesting but nothing that grabbed me enough to invest a second viewing, and when I picked up the original Through the Looking Glass, or whatever its called by Lewis Carroll I had to set it down after the first chapter because Alice annoyed the living shit out of me. I couldn’t understand how a girl could be so utterly clueless. Her behavior wasn’t endearing, or cute, it was just empty-headed. This is relevant because the first chapter or so of Beddor’s novel you have a very naive, hard to deal with Princess Alyss age seven who is just as annoying in my opinion, though your own mileage may vary. I had to set the book down the first time I picked it up. It sat around for the whole summer. The only reason I picked it back up was I needed something to take to work that would be an easy read that I could put down at a moment’s notice and now completely lose my place.

I’m not writing this review because I hated the book. Quite to the contrary, the second time I picked it up, knowing the annoyance I was about to face, it didn’t seem so annoying and bit by bit I fell in love with the story. The premise of the book (the whole series in fact) is that Wonderland is a real place. Alice is actually Princess Alyss, and her mother is the queen of hearts. After a hostile takeover by her Aunt Redd (who gets the catchphrase “Off with her head!”) Alyss escapes through the looking glass with Hatter Maddigan into the world we all know and love. Maybe not the exact world we know and love, as it’s set back when the Lewis Carroll book was written but you get the picture. Alyss and Maddigan become separated, and through a series of events Alyss meets Lewis Carroll, tells her story to him, and he in turn messes it up to create the book that we know as Alice in Wonderland. The book goes between Alyss’s adjustment to a world where the imagination does not rule, Maddigan’s search for the lost princess, and the rebel group of Wonderlanders who oppose Redd’s rule.

Without giving anything away, I have to say that Beddor’s retelling/continuation of Alice’s story is really well done. Every character who appears has a twist on the character people are familiar with. My favorite alteration is General Doppelganger who can separate himself into twin halves. Though they’re not nearly as flashy as Hatter Maddigan who’s a highly trained bodyguard of the Millinery, the simplicity of the concept I found to be very clever. Baddor adds to the known cast with characters specific to his own story, including a love interest for Alyss and a sagely tutor for the young princess. The action slowly builds to a crescendo and leaves you with a satisfying ending even if you choose not to look into the other books in the trilogy.

All three books are in paperback now, so there’s no waiting for the next installments. I just picked up the second book, Seeing Redd, from my local library. Fingers crossed it will be another fantastic adventure.

  1. Hi there, just stopping by to say that I have enjoyed reading your blog, and have nominated you for the Liebster award, I hope you will accept. my post about the award

    • S. Toman says:

      Thank you for the nomination! I would love to accept. My schedule’s pretty tight but the plan is to formally accept and nominate this coming weekend when I don’t have play rehearsal.

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