A Dark Descent Down the Rabbit Hole #ARCAugust

YA Fantasy Book Review | Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsey

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Dear Reader,

Ever Alice is a poignant, though often-times whimsical, look at a second journey Alice takes down the rabbit hole. Now 15, Alice Liddell finds herself once again in Wonderland where things are just as nonsensical as they always were and the Queen just as volatile. Will Alice keep her head, or is this the final journey?

The novel stayed true to all the whimsey and charm that was the hallmark of the original story by Lewis Carroll. The original story was full of imaginative nonsense in what characters said, ate, and did, and Ever Alice maintains that same tone while accommodating an older Alice and an older Alice theme. A world full of opposites and buttered tea, disappearing cats, and talking animals explains her journey to young adulthood and self-awareness just as well as the original story illustrated Alice’s journey through childhood and self-identity.

The journey Alice takes is the journey appropriate for a 15-year-old. In this retelling, Alice’s journey includes finding love, exploring the uncertain world of grays, and making adult decisions. Much the same journey that teens through out the ages have gone through. Whereas Alice’s real-life has not provided her with a chance to experience these milestones, Wonderland is there to fill the void.

The parallels between Alice and the Queen of Hearts is unexpected but is hinted about through much of the novel.  The “off with their heads” queen of hearts and the ever-innocent Alice could not be more opposite but as the story progresses this changes in very subtle ways, at first, and more substantially by the end.  I liked this about the book because it most accurately explains the theme and sets the novel apart from the original.

The character of Marilyn Montague had not been so obviously a Wonderland version of Marilyn Monroe.  Since the book is set in Victorian England, as the original was, this reference to an American actress from the 1950s and ’60s stood out and bothered me.  Though I loved what the character added to the story, I had a hard time getting past the fact that there was a discrepancy from the setting.

The ending was so haunting, and I would have loved it to turn out differently. This story isn’t the original children’s book, and nothing helps that stand out as clearly as the conclusion. Though it fit the theme and the story in general, I will be thinking about this story in a much different light and for a long time to come.

If you like a dark retelling of children’s classics, you will love this book.  It has all the essential elements of the original but is a journey more fitting of Alice’s current life stage. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

4 Replies to “A Dark Descent Down the Rabbit Hole #ARCAugust”

  1. Your choice of “haunting” sounds like an excellent description for this novel. I love the idea of the continued whimsy, but I’m not sure I’d be happy with the conclusion. Still, it sounds every bit the intriguing read.
    Excellent review, Tessa!

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    1. Thank you! It’s been a few weeks and I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending but this novel has the ability to prompt loads of discussion because of it.

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  2. I’ve resisted retellings of children’s books or fairytales, Theresa. I suppose I’m just attached to the originals and worry that the newer version won’t hold up. This sounds interesting though. Hmm. Thanks for the intriguing review. 🙂

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    1. I think it is something that seems really accessible to write because those are the things that originally spurred our imagination as kids, but I know I would constantly be second guessing myself as a writer if I took on the task.

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