Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

An undisciplined imagination is worse than no imagination at all. It can do more harm.

Did you know Lewis Carroll's Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum were based on the commander of Wonderland's royal army? That the Mad Hatter was not a milliner who had gone mad from the amount of mercury used to clean top hats, but that he was instead Hatter Madigan, the Queen's personal body guard? Yeah, me either. Indeed, I've never imagined Wonderland anything like this.

In The Looking Glass Wars, Beddor re-imagines Wonderland. Gone are all those movie-version Wonderlands in my head. Also gone are those movie Alices and Red Queens and White Queens and White Rabbit and purple-stripey Cheshire Cat... The Jabberwocky, though, might be pretty much the same.

The story opens on Princess Alyss Heart's seventh birthday (and will span through her adolescence to adulthood), a day which turns out to be a very bad day (to put it mildly) for all the residents of Wonderland, but especially Alyss, whose parents are both killed by her jealous and power-hungry Aunt Redd. To escape her aunt's homicidal intentions, Alyss has to dive into the world we know--the world where she eventually becomes Alice Liddell, who confides her story to Charles Dodgeson, better known these days as Lewis Carroll. (This story sent me to Wikipedia to find out just who Prince Leopold was, whether he was really interested in marrying Alice Liddell, and whether he was about to die in the pages of The Looking Glass Wars. I love books that make me look stuff up.)

Beddor's Wonderland is a place of singing flowers and whispering trees, but also a place of flesh-eating roses and genetically modified card soldiers. Nearly everything can take readers by surprise. But above all, it is a place where imagination reigns supreme. And which queen, Redd or White, has the best power of imagination?

If you're a fantasy reader haven't already enjoyed this ride, I strongly suggest you do so. Tomorrow I intend to be at my library checking out Seeing Redd.


bermudaonion said...

I love books that make me look up stuff too. This one sounds fascinating!

Zibilee said...

I think this is one of the books I bought for my son recently, so I will have to ask him to loan me his copy. It sounds like a really great read, and I'm glad you liked it. I really liked your review as well, it really lit a fire under me about this book!

Amanda said...

Oh good review! I read this book and reviewed it here:

I linked to your review if that's ok. I recently read Seeing Red and am currently reading Arch Enemy. I'll be reviewing them soon. If you liked the first book...the second and third are really good continuations of the story.