Once Upon a Wonderland

DJ Stoneham

Publisher: Communicado DJS Oy Pages: 350 Price: (paperback) $16.80 ISBN: 9789526506425 Reviewed: April, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

The sequel to D.J. Stoneham’s Alice Falls Again sees Lewis Carroll’s iconic protagonist return to Wonderland in hopes of finding and rescuing her love interest, Jack Door—“the black-feathered boy” who Alice became enamored with in the previous novel.

This story is initially set in England around the turn of the 20th century. Alice is now a recent college graduate preparing to explore the world to “broaden her horizons.” But on a family trip to the country’s south coast, Alice falls into the water and is inexplicably transported to Wonderland.

As usual in Wonderland, nothing is usual! Time seems to be broken—she may be in the future or the past—and a host of fairy tale characters have followed her into the fantastical realm. As Alice struggles to find Jack—who is trapped in a labyrinth of rooms deep in the Winter Forest—she meets numerous fairy tale characters (Rapunzel, Cinderella, the Seven Dwarfs, etc.) and becomes entangled in their individual quests.

Most of the characters are on journeys seeking retribution, particularly involving the way their respective stories have been manipulated. One of the Three Bears, for example, explains to Alice that the sweet, innocent Goldilocks was really an ill-tempered woman named Griddlelocks who, fleeing a house of ill repute because she was badly in debt, broke into the bears’ home and committed numerous crimes.

The novel features some laugh-out-loud sequences (like the iconic caterpillar character smoking an e-cigarette instead of a hookah pipe) and a fanciful tone throughout, as well as stellar illustrations that perfectly complement the narrative. The only potential criticism is the storyline’s serpentine nature: Alice meets fantastical character after fantastical character, but the plot doesn’t really gain traction until the latter chapters. However, the style is fitting given that the adventure takes place in Wonderland’s dreamlike realm.

In all, this whimsical fantasy adventure should appeal to fans of Carroll’s classic as well as fairy tales in general.

Also available as an ebook.

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