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Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
Book Name: Seeing Redd
Author: Frank Beddor
Publisher(s): Dial (US) Egmont (US)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Release Date: August 21, 2007 (US) September 3, 2007 (UK)

Last time, I shared my thoughts on the magnificent adaptation of Carroll’s Wonderland by Frank Beddor. The Looking Glass Wars has always moved me to the depths of social death. I forgot what it was to pick up the phone, send a message and even check the recent email. A bad habit I am not letting go of, if the book is brilliant. And I still remember the day that I discovered that Frank Beddor had not only given us a glimpse into his Wonderland, but he had expanded it into a second book.

Seeing Redd is the second book in the wonderful trilogy of Wonderland’s tales and adventures. Of course I had my doubts the first time that I read the second book of this trilogy. I mean, how many of you do not have doubts about the sequel? You read a brilliant first book and then pick up the second book…and the next things to come spewing out of your mouth are too R-rated to appear here, and the book goes flying out of your hands into some dark corner of your house.

It is safe to say that that is not the case with Seeing Redd. All the misgivings of the first book being better fast disappear. Seeing Redd has something even greater than The Looking Glass Wars. We get glimpses into the vivid and yet simple world of Wonderland. Mr. Beddor does a brilliant job of reminding us of the sheer genius of Carroll’s world. He does an even better job by bringing a realism that Carroll would be proud of if he read this book.

“No rabbits, no tea parties…Find out what really happened in Wonderland.”

Just those words on the cover are the first thing to sweep your mind out of this world. You are drawn into a land that is both here and there; a land that draws on Beddor’s and Carroll’s collective imagination and yet still pulls out an interesting shiner on this world that we live in today.

Beddor opens this book with a letter to his readers. That to me is sheer ingenuity. He hints on the fact that he coined his breathtaking tale from two trips. One was a roundabout normal business trip to London and a small venture to the British Museum. The other was the more confusing and imagination opening trip to an antiques shop in London. He warns you of the bloodshed, vengeance and murder you will read.

As soon as you get that out of the way, you realize that the children’s tale that Carroll brought to life and the first book Beddor penned in this trilogy are all child’s play. We open into the misunderstood mind of her Imperial Viciousness, Redd, just as the title Seeing Redd hints upon.
After not doing as much with Redd in the first book, we get to see Beddor’s view on Rose Heart; a rebellious daughter, strong willed elder sister and hateful aunt. You will get to see that maybe, just maybe, she is misunderstood, and the people of Wonderland are more to blame for what happens to the heir of the throne forcing her to turn into the vindictive creature that seeks nothing more than absolute power. Her quest takes us on the journey from the unknown lands to Wondertropolis where she almost wins total victory. (Tell me if you won’t sympathize with Redd after reading this book.)

Redd’s story resembles many that dot this world today and that is the beauty of Beddor’s style. He turned a simple tale into something that resonates with many of the happenings in this world. He uses his imagination and sheer colorful narrative to show that which we all do not want to see. In The Looking Glass Wars book one, you might think that Redd is, simply put, a harassing and disgraceful person, but reading Seeing Redd, you realize that she was failed by those that should have been there for her.

I know it seems like I have left out the heroes of the first book, but I have not. Alyss Heart is queen but she is still a young woman. Beddor manages to show us the brain of this young woman. She has plenty of duties and feelings she has to push to the side in the name of ruling. A part of me wonders if Beddor asked a female relation of his about the things that bother women of Alyss’ age, because she seems so real.

Her conflicts with Dodge are so real that I thought I was watching an older sibling squabble with an old friend. Her unwitting hope that the Hatter is no traitor serves up a wonderful side trip for us. Alyss’ character continues to grow on its own. It continues to bring forth the troubles of any girl out there and as the fashion of our world today, she has her issues that she puts to the side in the name of Wonderland (for the greater good, no?).

Something, I complained about last time was the lack of Dodge and the Suite families. I think Beddor had me in mind as he wrote this book. He must have known there would be some future reader that would want to see more of these characters and he gave us what we wanted. You get to see Dodge; a man in a station that does not allow what he wants to be. Dodge Anders is the man who makes Alyss, Alyss, and we get to see why he remains so conflicted, even though the Cat has one more life.

The Suite families under Jack of Diamonds, our big hipped and round bottomed lad, are all in the mines; working their arses off in the name of paying for their sins against Alyss’ crown (Alyss has some bit of Redd in her after all). His escape and plotting let us into his misguided and foolish mind. Yes, I used the word foolish for lack of a more civil and less abusive word. I believe that if you read this book, you will hate the foul boy as much as I do and he meets the end that he does at the hands of another wonderful creature.

There’s the added matter of King Arch. In the first book, you see him in only the first few chapters. But as you turn this book over in your hands, you realize that there is another player in the war of Wonderland. He is jealous and angry about Wonderland having something that his people do not. He is enraged and seeks to even the chess board. Again, Beddor shows you more of who you really are with his characters.

Arch is so brilliant constructed that you feel pity for his evil. Even when his former childhood friend, the rebellious Rose Heart takes his kingdom away, you cannot help but pity a man that was only trying to do what was right and even the playing field for his people. Mind you there’s the brilliant tiff with the Hatter in this storyline, which blows you away, trust me.

But as much as all this is happening, it is Alyss’ sacrifice and Arch’s evil plan that set up this book for its penultimate climax…a stalemate that hands Arch the greatest trump card an imaginationless (this book’s equivalent of magic) Wonderland. To make matters worse, this is where Beddor leaves you. Talk about whetting your appetite for the third book, which I will peer through a rabbit hole for you next time.

PS: Make sure to read Redd’s interview with Lewis Carroll at the end of this book. It makes this already brilliant piece of art something more…


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