Review: Wonderland (edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane)

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Wonderland: An Anthology of Works Inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane) was published by Titan Books in September 2019.

About the editors:

Marie O’Regan is a British Fantasy Award-nominated writer and editor of horror and dark fantasy fiction. Her anthologies include Mirror Mere, Hellbound Hearts, The Mammoth Book of Body Horror, Carnivale: Dark Tales From the Fairground and The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women. She is Co-Chair of the UK chapter of the Horror Writers’ Association and lives in Derbyshire, UK.

Click here to visit her official website.

Paul Kane is the award-winning author of over 70 books, including Alone (In the Dark), Touching the Flame, FunnyBones, Signs of Life, The Lazarus Condition, Peripheral Visions, The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, RED, Of Darkness and Light, The Gemini Factor and the bestselling Arrowhead trilogy of novels (Arrowhead, Broken Arrow and Arrowland). He is a respected anthologist, editing collections such as Beyond Rue Morgue, Hell-Bound Hearts and Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell.

Click here to visit his official website.

About Wonderland:

Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland

Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical, taking us from the nightmarish reaches of the imagination to tales that will shock, surprise and tug on the heart-strings. So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking-glass or... But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?

Brand-new works from the best in fantastical fiction



This review is part of the Wonderland blog tour.

Let me start this review by saying that Wonderland: An Anthology of Works Inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an immersive, fascinating and thrillingly unsettling anthology that celebrates the bizarre and wondrous nature of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass". I was wholly satisfied with this anthology and enjoyed reading each of the stories.

If you've ever been fascinated by the original Alice novels and love them, this anthology is mandatory reading material to you, because its contents will entertain and surprise you in equal measure. If this happens to be your first introduction to Wonderland, you couldn't have chosen a better companion to guide you there, because you're in for a magical treat when you begin to read the stories.

The editors, Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane, have done an excellent job at gathering compelling stories from fantasy and horror authors. The editors and the authors seem to have been fully committed to this anthology, because the stories are as mind-boggling and strange as Wonderland itself. The stories gathered here highlight what Lewis Carroll has created in a splendid way. They also invite readers to explore Wonderland in all of its glory and strangeness.

This anthology is proof of the fact that there's much to explore in Wonderland and there are many tales to tell, for Wonderland is filled with strange things that tease and tickle our imagination. Some of these things are magical and wondrous while others are dark and terrifying. This anthology also demonstrates that talented authors have the ability to make Wonderland their own by using their skills to add sparkling originality to what Lewis Carroll has created. This is evident in many of the stories.

What makes this anthology great is that it has something for everybody, because the stories range all the way from fantasy to horror and have elements of history and science fiction woven into them. As a fan of all things dark and weird, I was impressed by these stories and found myself enjoying them. (It's possible that certain stories may not be to everybody's liking due to their strange and demanding nature, but that's just one of the reasons why this anthology is good.)

This anthology consists of the following stories:

- Alice in Armor by Jane Yolen
- Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman
- There Were No Birds to Fly by M.R. Carey
- The White Queen's Pawn by Genevieve Cogman
- Dream Girl by Cavan Scott
- Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier
- The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green
- Smoke 'em if You Got 'em by Angela Slatter
- About Time by George Mann
- Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers
- Black Kitty by Catriona Ward
- The Night Parade by Laura Mauro
- What Makes a Monster by L.L. McKinney
- The White Queen's Dictum by James Lovegrove
- Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow
- Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood
- How I Comes to be the Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo
- Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn
- Revolution in Wonder by Jane Yolen

Storytelling-wise each of the above mentioned stories is a small gem. Some of the stories are clearly stronger than others, but all of them are good and worth reading.

Many of these stories tell about Alice, or perhaps I should say that they tell of alternate Alices, because the authors have created their own unique versions of Alice that are quite different from each other. I can guarantee that you'll be surprised by what the authors have in store for the reader in this regard.

The prose in all of these stories is excellent and evocative. I was positively surprised that the authors have managed to capture the magic, wonder and whimsiness of Wonderland with their writing and have done their best to write immersive and memorable stories.

Here's a bit more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:

Alice in Armor by Jane Yolen:

- A beautifully written poem that tells of how Alice plummets down the rabbit hole into Wonderland and prepares herself for battle.

Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman:

- This is a slightly unsettling story about how Alice returns from Wonderland and finds out that the world has changed quite a lot. She gets a job and marries Dom whom she doesn't love. When she has babies, she thinks of them as defective and pushes all of them, except for one, down the rabbit hole.
- I was taken by this story, because the author's vision of Alice is satisfyingly different and twisted. The Alice in this story is not the sweet Alice we've come to know from the stories, but a more mature (and stranger) version of her.
- This strange story is steeped in modern weird fiction and has a few elements that can be regarded as bizarro fiction elements. As a big fan of weird fiction, I enjoyed this story very much and found it excellent.
- This story has an emotional impact on the reader, because the author's way of writing about Alice and her daughter, Trish, is surprisingly touching and harrowing.

There Were No Birds to Fly by M.R. Carey:

- In this eerie story, aliens get into people's heads and make their worst nightmares come to life.
- This story has an interesting dystopian setting, because the world has changed and the characters talk about what they miss.
- If I'm not mistaken, this story is inspired by the poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter", which appears in "Through the Looking-Glass".
- This is an excellent and satisfyingly weird story, because it's multi-layered and different from the other stories.

The White Queen's Pawn by Genevieve Cogman:

- This brilliant story tells of how Lady Hargreaves is approached by Mr Walters who knows about her secret past as a talented assassin. Mr Walters wants Lady Hargreaves to train new assassins.
- I enjoyed reading about the conversation between Lady Hargreaves and Mr Walters, because it's perfectly written and has good tension.
- I loved the ending, because the author has come up with a perfect way to end the story.

Dream Girl by Cavan Scott:

- In this fascinating story, Wonderland and its residents are mysteriously disappearing and the disappearances are believed to be connected to the arrival of the Dream Girl, a blonde-haired human who has been running around the Wonderland.
- This story is an interesting and thrilling blend of fantasy, horror and science fiction.
- The ending is simply brilliant, because it's distinctly different and will surprise the reader with science fiction elements.

Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier:

- A story about a girl who lives with her uncle Bart. The girl receives a dog as a birthday present and decides to call her Alice. One day, the girl has to travel through a blue door in order to save her dog.
- This story has dark and unsettling undertones, because the author implies at child molestation and tells of the girl's fears, because the perpetrator has frightened her and has made it clear that she can't hide from him.
- The ending is excellent and fits the story, because justice is served.

The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green:

- A story about a youth called Nobody who is looking for the monster Jabberwock. Nobody wants to kill Jabberwock.
- It was fun to read about Nobody and his quest to slay the Jabberwock.
- This is one of the best and most entertaining fantasy stories I've read this year, because the story is gripping and the ending has a nice twist to it.

About Time by George Mann:

- A story about Lucy who returns to Wonderland as a teenager and finds out that a monster has arrived there and has declared himself the King of Wonderland.
- I was impressed by the emotional impact the author delivered with this story, because there's something sorrowful and touching beneath the story's surface that will captivate the reader.
- This is an excellent and well written story.

Smoke 'em if You Got 'em by Angela Slatter:

- This is another brilliant story, because it's a Wild West story about Alice and how she hunts the Rabbit.
- Because Angela Slatter has been on my must-read list ever since I read "The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings" (the second collection of stories in the author's "The Sourdough Cycle"), I was eager to read this story. I'm happy to say that this is one of the best fantasy stories I've ever read, because the author has created her own intriguing vision of Alice who has been affected by the time she spent in Wonderland.
- This story is so strong and captivating that it will stay with the reader.

Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers:

- In this strange and beautifully written story, Charles - who is a psychiatrist - sees a white rabbit and talks to him after his sister has passed away.
- I enjoyed this story a lot, because it's wholly different from the other stories. The story is told from two points of view in an excellent way.
- This is an excellent story that will be of special interest to readers who love strange and well written stories.

Black Kitty by Catriona Ward:

- A strange and well written story about a pair of twins, Snowdrop and Kitty, who are thinking of escaping their world.
- I liked this story and found it interesting, because it's a satisfyingly original take on Wonderland stories.
- I'm not going to spoil the story for readers, but I can say that the ending is interesting and revealing.

The Night Parade by Laura Mauro:

- In this story, a young woman, Airi, tries to help a small child and finds a hole in the bushes that leads her to another place.
- This is a wonderfully different kind of a story, because it is set in Japan and features elements of Japanese folklore.
- Fans of Alice stories will easily notice that the Cheshire Cat is featured as a bakeneko in this story.
- I enjoyed this story very much and found it utterly compelling.

What Makes a Monster by L.L. McKinney:

- This is a story about Nightmares that escape from Wonderland. Dreamwalkers, who are born of humanity and have been trained by Guardians born of Wonderland, can hunt these beasts and stop them from wreaking havoc in the mortal plane.
- I was thrilled to read this story, because I enjoyed what the author had created. This story is one of the best examples of creative storytelling in this anthology.
- The ending has an interesting reference to Jack the Ripper.

The White Queen's Dictum by James Lovegrove:

- This is a strange tale about an internet journalist who investigates paranormal phenomena and has an online channel where he streams his videos. The man believes in impossible things and hauntings are his specialty.
- I found this story captivating, because it's modern and original.
- The ending is excellent.

Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow:

- This cyberpunk story takes place in a futuristic and post-apocalytic world where Alise works as a kind of a spy.
- This story features an intriguing digiplague.
- There's something about this story that slightly reminds me of Danie Ware's Ecko series.

Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood:

- A story about Alice who is getting married and dreams of how much easier it would be to be her white pet rabbit.
- This is a weird little tale that has a dream-like feel to it.
- I was taken by this story, because it's not your normal kind of a story and needs a bit of concentration on the reader's part to fully understand it.

How I Comes to be the Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo:

- In this story, Alice is thrown into the treacle mines by the White Queen and the Red Queen. Alice befriends the miners and helps them.
- This story was a bit of a surprise to me, because I didn't expect to find anything like it in this anthology. I found myself enjoying it and was pleased with the ending.
- It's great that the story is told from the point of view of a treacle miner and the text has grammatical errors, because it makes everything feel fresh.

Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn:

- In this story, Alice finds herself in a strange place and doesn't know how she arrived there. The Cheshire Cat tells her that she is there to play a game and has to find Vasteous Shield. She looks through doors and sees different things.
- I enjoyed this story, because it gradually grew into something deeper and more meaningful.
- This story has an excellent and touching ending that will surely impress everybody.

Revolution in Wonder by Jane Yolen:

-Just like the first poem, this is a beautifully written poem. It serves as an excellent closing curtain to this anthology.

One of the things that impressed me about these stories is how insightful and thought-provoking some of them are and how they make the reader think about what is going on. Although these stories entertainment, they have a surprising amount of depth.

I strongly recommend this anthology to readers who want to read something fresh and unsettling, because the stories are intriguing and fascinatingly original. Please, don't hesitate to take a literary plunge into Wonderland, for you'll be rewarded with marvellous stories that will take you by surprise.