(Re)Visions: Alice ((re)Visions) by Kaye Chazan, Amanda Ching, Christian Young, Lewis Carroll

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Title: (re)Visions: Alice
Author: Kaye Chazan, Amanda Ching, Christian Young, Lewis Carroll
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam
Pages: 334
ISBN: 978-1936460069
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Literary Fiction: Fantasy Short Stories
Series: (re)Visions series
Best Read in Order: Not Required
Stars:  5
Purchase Now: Amazon §  Publisher

About the Book:

In 1865, an English author and scholar with an abiding interest in mathematics and logic published a tale originally told for the amusement of a friend’s young daughter, Alice.

The resulting novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was largely ignored at first, but then rapidly rose to fame, with such prominent admirers as Queen Victoria and Oscar Wilde; its nonsensical language and endearing characters have made it beloved of generations of children and adults alike, and the escapades of young Alice have inspired writers the world over. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has never gone out of print.

With such universal appeal, it’s no wonder that the quasi-logical tricks and banter of Wonderland have cast a long shadow on modern fantasy. Echoes of the Queen, the Cat, and others can be found in tales old and new, and the idea of falling into a strange, bewildering world is one of the favorite tropes used by authors of the fantastic.

The (re)Visions series seeks to bring classic works of speculative fiction back into the modern consciousness, examining how tendrils of the fantastic spiral through all that we think and do, even decades after a work was penned. First, read Lewis Carroll’s (extremely) original work; then, let your mind wander through the gardens and passages of Wonderland, guided by four very different modern authors.

And don’t forget your flamingo.

What Aelister Found Here  ~   Kaye Chazan

It is 1888, and Aelister has never felt at home, not even in his own skin. Now that he’s been expelled from school, he sees no reason to stick around his house in Warwickshire, so he runs away to another world altogether: London. The city is a maze of heat and rain, where a murderer stalks the streets of Whitechapel and a Crown Prince flouts his mother’s laws, and Aelister soon finds himself dealt into a series of deadly games—ones that put his life, and far more, on the line. And while London may not be the wonderland Aelister expected to find, he is far from the only person in the city looking for that very place.

House of Cards  ~   Amanda Ching

There’s Alice, who fell down a rabbit hole and had an adventure. Then there’s the Queen of Hearts, who loses her temper quite frequently. But before that, there was Mary Ann, a servant pressed past patience, past duty. As all three hurtle toward an inevitable meeting, a creature has broken from its coffin and is even now tunneling to meet them. When the deck is stacked like this, even the strongest foundation could crumble.

Knave  ~  Hilary Thomas

In the city they call Wonderland, the Queen calls the shots. If she doesn’t like the way you’re playing the game, she’ll give you the axe. Permanently. Jack Knave is an investigator, a man of many talents, an occasional blade for The Crown; and he’s the best at what he does. He knows every face in the city, every move they make, every connection.

Except one.

When a mysterious woman shows up in town, Jack is sure she’s not just here for the tourism. But the more he digs, the less he knows. Finding the answers means getting close to her, but she’s not the only one with secrets. Somebody’s been stealing from the Queen, and it looks like Jack’s taking the fall. Alice could seal his fate with a word—or not. With no options left, and the odds stacked against him, Jack must make a desperate gamble to survive. Whether his luck holds out or he’s left out to dry, one thing’s for certain: he can’t afford to lose his head.

The World in a Thimble ~  C.A. Young

Toby Fitzsimmons hates the creepy sculpture of Alice on display in his gallery, but when it drops him into Wonderland for real, he’s not prepared for what he finds. From real living furniture to scoutmasters and cowboys to coyotes who really do go everywhere, Toby finds himself in a Wonderland that’s more deadly, and much more American, than the one he remembers reading about as a boy. At the heart of it all is the Catmistress, who rules over the city’s dark alleys and knows the secret of the Cheshire trick. In this strange new world, Toby will need all the help he can get to find his way home. Before that, though, he’ll have to find a way to keep from losing himself. Wonderland, it seems, changes everything it touches. And then there’s the thing in the sewers…

Book Review:

I must admit that I am a huge fan of “reimagined” classics: whether simply revamping characters and placing them in new and modern situations or reworking the story for a modern reader. When treated with the author’s individual spin, the potential for the newly imagined story with characters known since childhood is endless. This book is a stellar example of the idea in action, taking Alice into a far more adult themed Wonderland and bringing four new short stories for you to enjoy. Cleverly starting the book with a reprint of the original tale by Lewis Carroll, refresh your brain and revisit the characters, the stories to come will be that much richer for it.

As you start on the stories, you find a series of cleverly incorporated although not always obvious elements from the original to the new. None are a simple retelling of the story; each brings a unique voice to the table absent recitations of plot, character or climax points. From the gender bending urban fantasy of
What Aliester Found Here to the more moralistic and symbolic The World in A Thimble, the stories are memorable and stand alone as beautiful works. House of Cards is most similar in feel to the original tale, with multiple point of view and intersecting time and plot lines it requires careful concentration to the final and ultimately satisfying conclusion. Lastly for me, was Knave, done in noir style with a sense of playfulness that comes from the characters that seemed to smooth the grittier edges of the genre into a read more welcoming to all. I say lastly, as it was fractionally my favorite in a book of 4 short stories that were all brilliantly conceived.

As I read, each story became my new favorite: the more I read, the easier it was to find the connections between the new and the classic, and allowed me to appreciate and treasure the original story by Lewis Carroll more than I had before I started this book. While this is not a ‘younger readers’ version: there is sex, violence and swearing: this is a book that will have you revisiting Wonderland with a new appreciation for the skill and talent that first brought it to print. If you think you don’t like reimagined classics or short stories, this may be the book that changes your mind.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

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