Everyone knows the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll(Charles Dodgson) wrote the tale for a young girl name Alice Lydell, and it became a children’s classic. However, according to Frank Beddor, Carroll’s version of Wonderland is wrong. He presents us with the “truth” in his novel, The Looking Glass Wars.
Alyss Heart is the princess and heir to the throne of Wonderlandia. Her aunt Redd is an evil woman who wants to take over the thrown. She attacks Heart Castle and kills Alyss’ family and many of her friends. Alyss manages to escape through the looking glass and finds herself in Victorian England. There she grows up into a beautiful young woman, and befriends Charles Dodgson who writes a story about her world but gets it all wrong. When her royal bodyguard finds her after searching for thirteen years, Alyss returns to Wonderland to fight her aunt Redd and retake the thrown.
According the back flap of my copy of The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor researched Wonderland for three years before writing this book. The problem is that it does not show. The reader does not get a very good look at Wonderlandia or the culture and life the people have there. The story jumps right into the bloody battles. This book could have been a lot longer if Beddor had really wanted to show his readers the Wonderland he had worked so hard to create.
The characters are remakes of beloved Wonderland characters, as was to be expected. Bibwit Harte is Alyss’ albino tutor who has great hearing ability. Needless to say, the letters in his name spell “White Rabbit”. Redd is the red queen, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum have become one person that can break into two, the General’s Doppel and Ganger.
It is the remaking of the Mad Hatter that stands out in the book, and has spawned a comic series. Hatter Madigan is Alyss’ royal bodyguard and the man has blades of all shapes and sizes in his hat, on his wrists, and hidden all over his person. He is a deadly fighter, not afraid to show his skill So much could have been done with this character, but he is also left flat throughout the story. He spends much of it chasing Alyss around the world and visiting hat shops.
Looking Glass Wars was written for kids, but it is filled with such bloody battles that many would not want their children to read. Alyss’ mother gets her head cut off! Older teens could read the book, but keep it away from your younger children, despite what the cover says.
Wonderland is a world loved by so many, and I was excited about the idea of recreating it to tell the “truth”. However, this good book could have been made into something fantastic with a little more thought and work. The characters could have been built up more, given backstory. The reader should have had a bigger look at Wonderland life so that they could be more heartbroken seeing it destroyed. Also, Frank Beddor should have spent some time with children to learn about their habits and ways, because seven year old Alyss and ten year old Dodge act like adults instead of kids. The research Beddor claimed to have spent three years on seems non-existent when reading The Looking Glass Wars.
The Looking Glass Wars is worth reading for any Wonderland fan. Find it at the library or buy the cheap paperback version. The Wonderlandia that Beddor created is unique in many ways, and does put a whole new slant on Lewis Carroll’s story.