Alyssa is the great-great-great granddaughter of Alice. The Alice – the one that Alice in Wonderland is based on. She creates morbid art with the bodies of insects and parts of plants, hoping to quell the voices she hears. That’s right – she can hear plants and insects talking to her. But telling her dad would mean a one-way ticket to the same asylum as her mom, who shares the same infliction.
During one of her weekly visits to her mom, Alyssa begins to question whether or not the voices are real. Her mom hears the bugs and plants saying the exact same things she hears. If she were making it all up in her head, then the conversations wouldn’t match up word for word, right? Alyssa’s mom says that the family is cursed because of what Alice did, though she doesn’t explain what that is exactly. To break the curse, they would have to go down the rabbit hole. Since Alyssa’s mom isn’t going anywhere, it’s up to her to find the rabbit hole and right Alice’s wrongs (whatever they may be).
Let’s start with the cover. Gorgeous. Absolutely eye-catching. The thing with pictures, though, is that it doesn’t portray just how brilliant the colors shine. Go to your local bookstore (once you’re finished reading this blog) and find a copy. You will be blown away.
Next, the type. I’m not usually one to comment on the format of a book, font and otherwise, but perhaps that is because most books are just black type on cream paper. This book, however, is a little more lavish. The type is in purple, which I thought at first might be a strain on the eyes, simply because I’m used to reading in black, but that was not the case. I actually stopped noticing it after a while. The beginning of each chapter also has a little more decoration than the rest of the book. I don’t know how to describe it, really, except to say that there are intricate designs flowing across the top of the page. The best likeness I can think of is that it could be a wrought-iron gate design. The chapter title even has an enticing font; it has a little bit of a flourish but not so much that it’s illegible.
Everything about the book is appealing to the eye and intriguing to the mind. Before the reader even begins at the very first word, she is drawn in and excited about the adventure that awaits her.
The writing was beautiful and descriptive. Of course, when reading the book, I couldn’t help but think of the movies that have been made of Alice – the Disney version as well as Tim Burton’s version. I also thought about Lewis Carroll’s book, which I’d read most of a decade ago. From what I remember of what I read, Howard’s imagining of Wonderland fit well with Carroll’s tale.
This is no children’s story, though. The opening scene is Alyssa creating one of her dead-bug murals. And it just gets creepier from there. After finding the rabbit hole and making her way to Wonderland, Alyssa soon discovers that Carroll’s book wasn’t an exact depiction of the other world. The white rabbit, for example, is a creature that looks like a rabbit but with antlers instead of ears and most of his skin and muscles have been rotted away, leaving mostly bones behind. He claims he is of the White lineage and he is rabid, rather than a rabbit. It’s a dark and twisted version of the Wonderland that Alyssa grew up with. As she journeys through the world, though, she discovers things about herself that she never knew.
This is a definite must-read for any Alice in Wonderland fan.