The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor is an interesting take on the Alice in Wonderland story. This interpretation contends that Alyss Heart, Princess of Wonderland, is the Alice of the Lewis Caroll story. When her evil Aunt Redd attacks and kills her parents, Alyss flees to the outside world. Separated from her escort and bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, Alyss finds herself an orphan in London who is eventually adopted by The Liddells. Her adoptive family dismisses Alyss' stories of her life in Wonderland as flights of fantasy. She gives up her memories of Wonderland when a family friend publishes her stories under the pen name Lewis Carroll. Alyss is hurt and angry because she feels her life has been trivialized and turned into a fairy tale. She becomes determined to be the ideal daughter and truly becomes Alice Liddell. She is set to marry Prince Leopold when a figure from her past arrives and brings her back to the ruins of the Wonderland where she grew up. Redd has destroyed the city and all those who support White Imagination, that of the former King and Queen. She and her followers practice Black Imagination, which is destructive and evil. In order to restore Wonderland to the peaceful land of her childhood, Alyss must learn to hone her imaginative skills and defeat her aunt.
This book took a long time for me to read. I kept getting hung up comparing it to the original story. I was also distracted by the semblance to the real life story of Alice Liddell and the fabricated parts created for the character of Alice Liddell. In fact, at one point, I put the book down and left it for over a month. I read quite a few other books before I came back to finish it. However, I did come back to finish it. I enjoyed the adventure of the story, and the change and development of Alyss' character. It makes an interesting statement about how much is lost when imagination is discouraged. It furthers the statement with the power Alyss has once she begins to hone her imagination as an adult. The characters were interesting, particularly Alyss' childhood friend Dodge, but many of them were weakened by being based on characters in the original story. For example, Hatter Madigan may have appeared as a stronger hero figure if I weren't thinking of him as the Mad Hatter.
I can't even decide if I liked this story or not. I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't been based on Lewis Carroll's Alice. Of course, being based on the famous work is part of what drew me to the book in the first place. I'll say this--The Looking Glass Wars is an interesting adventure filled with some familiar characters in a familiar land. Will I read the sequel, Seeing Redd: The Looking Glass Wars, Book Two? Probably, if I come across it on a book exchange site, but I won't be paying to download it.