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The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Book Name: The Looking Glass Wars
Author: Frank Beddor
Publisher(s): Dial Books (US) Egmont (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy / YA Fantasy
Release Date: September 26, 2006 (US) May 2, 2005

A few weeks ago, I picked up my paperback copy of Alice in Wonderland and smiled, but then I saw another version of this tale that I have read countless times before.

The world of Alice in Wonderland has always interested me; the card soldiers, the spirit danes, the Red Queen with her standard, ‘OFF WITH THEIR HEADS,’ statement, white imagination vs. black imagination, the Mad Hatter, the Cat, the wise caterpillars; all of it has always intrigued me. Lewis Carroll’s tale was a vast and imaginative take on falling down a hole. I did look for a hole to fall under once just to ensure that I had the little girl’s adventures. It is safe to say I did not. But the day I found Frank Beddor’s tale on the bookshelf of my local book shop, I just had to take it; and boy, was I amazed. Frank Beddor took Lewis Carroll’s children’s tale and spun it into an epic story that goes beyond all our wildest dreams.

I am sure, that most of you watched the 2010, epic with Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway, Alice in Wonderland. If you loved it as much as I did, then you definitely want to read Frank Beddor’s work on Wonderland. Yes, it is not the usual little girl falls down the rabbit hole story that we love, but it is a major and wonderful piece of work; a true testament to Carroll’s work, in any epic fantasy loving person’s cup of tea.

Let’s start with the blurb:

The Myth: Alice was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook.

The Truth: Wonderland is real.

Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss’s parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

Awesome right? I am not going to force you to read this particular book but I would recommend it if you want to see how else the world of Wonderland can appear. Beddor manages to make you sympathize with Alyss…yeah Alice is the wrong spelling. That is according to the Mad Hatter who is on his journey through the worlds to search for the lost princess of White Magic. How we came to this? Don’t ask me; ask Beddor who does a magnificent job of showing us Alyss’ life before she is forced to leave Wonderland.

The book opens when Alyss has a mother, Queen Genevieve, and a father, King Nolan. She even has many people that love her around her, but she also has an exiled and defeated aunt in Redd. Redd returns and forces us onto a wonderful journey into the world of unknown, and unlike Carrol, whose Alice fell down a rabbit hole, Beddor’s Alyss falls through a puddle of water. One brilliant invention, the puddle portals between this world and that world.

Imagine being groomed for power and having your whole world collapsed round you before you are a teenager. Then being forced to live as an exile in a place that is completely and utterly unknown. Think of living in a world where you are made fun of because of your beliefs. Every time that you raise your opinion about something you end up being turned down. That can make for terrible outlook on life, and Beddor makes sure that we get to see this growth in Alyss.

One of the best parts of the novel comes when she is an exile. We get to see how a young toddler grows up into a young woman. She is beaten down that she almost forgets who she is and actually gives life in exile a chance. This is thanks to a one Charles Dodgson that plagiarizes her memory into a story that is ridiculed. Poor Alyss accepts this notion and gives up on a part of who she is.

She comes to terms and there is a very powerful family scene with the Liddells when she accepts to forget who she is and accepts exile. If accepting to marry a prince is not giving life in exile a chance, then I do not know what is? By the way, this life in exile is life here on earth, our earth, Victorian England to be exact and the prince in question is Prince Leopold.

There are plenty of wonderful characters that I feel deserved a lot more limelight than they actually received, but were brilliantly painted by Beddor. Jack of Diamonds, Dodge Anders and Bibwit, all deserve a better light. They are all important, whether small or big.

Our villainess, Her Imperial Viciousness, Redd is another person that makes this book wonderful. Trust me, and I am not being my usual sympathetic self with the bad guys that do things because they had no choice, Redd is a brilliant and outstanding woman. Sure she is evil but as you read this book, you get to see why she becomes what she becomes. To me, she is a misunderstood creature that did not deserve the backlash she gets for her actions.

The imaginative creatures that are introduced are really awesome. I love the cat with nine lives that keeps being killed off and coming back stronger and faster. To me this is one of the best creations of this book. The agile manlike cat that can morph into a little innocent kitten that everyone can dot on. Another addition to this story is the reflecting continuum that is used for transport. Who doesn’t want to move from one place to another, using mirrors?

All in all, this story flows perfectly. I enjoyed it from start to finish and after picking it up again a few weeks ago, I indulged in my ugly trait of forgetting about the rest of the world until I was finished. To me, that is what makes a great book.

But like every great thing, there is no perfection. There are characters such as Dodge. Sure we see him more than most as a secondary character, but I wanted to see him grow up without Alyss, believing that she is dead. I wish we could have seen more of the Suite families instead of glimpses of them when Redd is talking. Sure they might be secondary, but I think Beddor robbed us of his imagination when it comes to these families.

The Liddells are another family that I felt deserved a lot more than they got. We get glimpses of them as they filter through Alyss’ life. Even the street urchins Alyss hangs with are brilliant characters who I wished I could see more of. They do leave a test for more on their tale, but Beddor knew what he was doing. I just hope he can give us some tales involving these street kids.

So, if you are out looking for a traditional fairy tale that is in epic and outstanding proportions, read The Looking Glass Wars. The tone is not as dark as the title suggests but it is not bright either. It is simple and to the point. It makes you want to turn the page over and over without a care for anything else in the world.

Spoiler of book 1 ending, do not click to unblur unless you’ve read the first book: [spoiler] Sure, Alyss wins. Sure Redd is defeated, but The Looking Glass Wars have just started. Next time I shall waltz through Seeing Redd, the second book in the series.[/spoiler]


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