Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Setting the Record Straight

Meet Alyss Heart, Princess of Wonderland. You might think that "Alice in Wonderland" was the mere invention of a strange little man, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who wrote under the name Lewis Carroll. But you'd be wrong, at least according to this imaginative new twist on a classic, entitled THE LOOKING GLASS WARS by Frank Beddor.

Beddor, Frank. 2006. The Looking Glass Wars.

The Looking Glass Wars asks the reader to envision Wonderland not as some harmless, nonsensical daydream of a bored little girl, but as a kingdom being uprooted, overturned, and scarred by opposing forces. Queen Genevieve and King Nolan have raised their daughter Princess Alyss to be the future queen of Wonderland. Tutored by Bibwit Harte, Alyss will be taught above all in the skills of White Imagination knowing that this is partly where the source of strength for the kingdom is to be found. But when the book begins, Alyss is only seven years old. In fact it is her birthday. How could anyone predict that on this day--a day of celebration--there is an enemy waiting to destroy everything and everyone of this peaceful kingdom?

Aunt Redd, sister to the Queen, was banished from the kingdom because of her use of Black Imagination. Having rejected the purity, love, and justice the motto of sorts for the kingdom, she is removed from the line of secession and banished. That is she is banished after murdering her own parents. (Or at least one of them, I can't quite remember). Now it is Redd's time for vengeance. She murders the King and Queen and sets her best kept secret--her top assassin--the Cat on a mission to track down the Princess and the one man left guarding her Hatter Madigan. Can the two escape through the Pool of Tears in time?

Well, it wouldn't be much of a book if the heroine was killed a mere eighty pages into the novel. So it should come as no surprise that the two resurface. Alyss finds herself standing in a mud puddle watching a queenly procession: the problem? She's in England. Hatter Madigan finds himself in Paris, France. As you imagine, a seven year old on the streets of London, I believe, new to this world and straight from Wonderland couldn't possibly survive long on her own. First befriended by a group of pickpockets and other street-thug-orphan types, she stays with them until her imagination is no longer able to make her useful to the group. She is then placed into an orphanage until she is adopted by the Liddell family.

All along Alyss has been holding on to her past waiting for the day when someone somewhere will believe that she is telling the truth. When she confides in a family friend, Mr. Dodgson, she has confidence that he will tell her story properly. But when she reads Alice's Adventures Underground she realizes that her stories have been a mere joke in his eyes. Seeing the book as the work of a cruel man, she rejects her past once and for all...or so she thinks. There is still one man looking and searching for the child and future woman who should rightfully be Queen. But can he find her in time?

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