BONUS BOOK*: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

“Of course, these days, the accepted sequence is under revision. Six decades and some into the century, though Browning does indeed reassure us that God is still in His heaven, Darwin is taking tea in the Croft. Heaven shudders as Cambrian creatures shake mud from their gills, rewriting history. Sequence, and consequence.”

*From time to time, I will post reviews on books that have not been banned or challenged (although based on some of the content in After Alice, I could certainly see it being banned in the future). These books will be known as ‘Bonus Books.’

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure

Book Jacket Synopsis: “When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the worlds she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance? In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings – and understandings of old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend but arrives a moment too late – and tumbles down the rabbit-hole herself. Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. The White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the bloodthirsty Queen of Hearts – droll and imperious as always – interrupt their mad tea party to suggest a conundrum: If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or if Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. In any case, everything that happens next is After Alice.”

Review: I became a fan of Gregory Maguire after reading Wicked in high school. I loved the idea that there could be more to the Wicked Witch of the West, and other literary characters, than initially meets the eye. For that reason, I was really excited to read After Alice. This imaginative novel delves deep into the lives of Alice Clowd, Ada Boyce, Lydia Clowd (Alice’s sister), and various grown-ups and authority figures. Alternating between Ada’s adventures in Wonderland and the above-ground search for both missing girls, After Alice kept me spellbound the entire time. While it took several chapters to get used to Maguire’s complicated word-choices and occasionally off-putting style of writing, I found this story to be extremely compelling. Touching on subjects as diverse as Victorian etiquette, Darwinism, the American abolition of slavery, and more, After Alice provided a fascinating window into the issues of 1860s Oxford. Riddled from an early age with a spinal deformity, Ada Boyce makes an unlikely but lovable heroine. Her devotion to her only friend, Alice, is admirable and endearing. Additionally, Ada’s precocious nature makes for some of the best quotes in the book, including this portion of an exchange she has when she spots a unicorn in Wonderland:

“Did you fail to board the Ark? And did you drown?” Ada asked of the Unicorn. “Did Noah even try to save you?”

The book also has an extremely creative ending, regarding the mythical Jabberwock that the characters in Wonderland spend a majority of the book running from. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that the conclusion was tremendous. Through After Alice, I rediscovered my love for Gregory Maguire’s work, and plan on re-investigating some of his other novels.





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