“In the 150 years since Alice’s visit, the realm has become tainted—almost normal. Rabbits in waistcoats and playing card minions are little more than creatures of myth, and Wonderland is literally falling to pieces.”
Follow the White Rabbit by Kellie Sheridan
Thanks to NetGalley I was able to read Follow the White Rabbit, a novella written by Kellie Sheridan. The book is published by Patchwork Press which is a different kind of publisher. Essentially, Follow the White Rabbit is self-published, but a group of fellow authors help with the editing process (I believe this is correct: see Patchwork Press website: http://www.patchwork-press.com/about/).
Follow the White Rabbit is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. The story is set 150 years after Alice visited Wonderland. Alice’s visit changed Wonderland, which is becoming less chaotic/mad and more orderly/sane. The animals no longer speak, and the Red Queen’s kingdom is becoming more and more like a city in our World. Can Gwen, Rose, and Lucky, return Wonderland to its former glory? They have only one chance to use Wonderland’s legends to bring Alice into Wonderland. All they need is a white rabbit that can jump through different universes. Things have changed beyond recognition in Wonderland though, so the white rabbit might not be a literal white rabbit anymore. Can they find the white rabbit in time and before Red Queen learns of Alice’s return?
I enjoyed reading Follow the White Rabbit. I thought the idea of Wonderland becoming less mad was interesting. I particularly liked how all the well-known characters from Alice and Wonderland were still in the book, but they had changed beyond recognition. I had fun trying to figure out who was who. Some of the characters are easy, like the Red Queen and the White Queen. The reader is told which characters they are. I liked that the Mad Hatter was female. I figured out which character she was by her strange dress sense. I liked that she put on a misshaped hat at the end of the book! The characters that represent the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat were my favourite characters though. I liked that the author gave clues to the characters identity from quite early on. For example, the White Rabbit jumps through different universes and the Cheshire Cat can teleport (and leaves his smile behind).
While I enjoyed the book, there are two things that I disliked. First, the first chapter takes place in the present, the next chapter jumps into the past (without warning), and then final chapter finishes back where the book started. On the one hand, I like that the book started and ended the same. However, the jump into the past was rather jarring, and I had trouble getting into the book because the first 3-4 chapters were about a different character. The switch for each chapter was jarring. None of the characters were connected initially and so they had very different things going on in their lives. It’s later in the book that they all come together. Second, when I reached the end of the book, I said, “Where’s the rest?” I know this is a novella so I expected the story to be short. I also knew this was a series, so I expected the story to end on a cliff hanger. The problem is that the story felt unfinished. I felt like I’d read half a book. This needed to be expanded into a novel. It feels like the author wanted to write a novella and so hacked off half of the book to make it fit into the word count. It just didn’t work.
Final Verdict: A different take on a classic children’s story, but the story stops abruptly so be prepared to read books 1 and 2 back-to-back.