I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition and/or the BBNYA tours organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. in exchange for a honest review.
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Alice’s stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows—it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she’s willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: the court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.
If I’m being completely honest, I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, but I am not enamoured by it. However, when I was given Ever Alice as a panellist for the BBNYA, I was really excited by the premise. I loved the though of delving more into the psychological aspect of Alice’s adventures and also her return to Wonderland for a new adventure.
Alice is now 15 and is living in a mental institute suffering from ‘delusions’ due to her ramblings and obsession with Wonderland. Desperately wanting to be free and return home for her sister’s wedding, Alice agrees to a new treatment in Switzerland, but a last-minute change of heart sees her heading back into Wonderland and coming face to face with The Queen of Hearts once more.
I loved the first part of the novel showing Alice in the asylum. She’s vulnerable and lonely but still clinging onto her belief that Wonderland and her adventures were real that day. The treatments used and the way Alice is cared for was quite chilling but fascinating and for the time period – well researched and described. For me there was a haunting vibe of The Bell Jar which is why I was so unsettled but morbidly drawn to it.
When Alice returns to Wonderland it’s as zany and wonderfully weird as it ever was. I feel in ever Alice we see more of it and learn more about the people and places there. At times I stopped reading and thought “that’s absurd,” but then remembered where I was and realised all was fine.
Some familiar characters make a return however many now have names which did confuse me in the beginning, but I soon got used to it. The White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, The Cheshire Cat etc are all there. Some new faces make an appearance too; the Prince of Hearts, Sabrina and Bess and Marco Polo.
Something that sets ever Alice apart from its prequel is the use of dual narrative and the voice of the Queen of Hearts. Despite being a central character, she was never given a lot of page time or character development in Alice in Wonderland and I really enjoyed reading the novel from her perspective. It was a clever device in the beginning to tell of the two worlds in a parallel sense and then to give the reader insight into a different perspective of Wonderland. Giving her a name made her more human in my eyes and I began to see her as a person rather than just a malevolent figure. I also thought The Queen was absolutely bonkers and I quite liked her.
It’s been a while since I read Alice however for me, this sequel is much darker. Despite driving myself crazy over my thoughts of the ending, I think the end is darker and very cleverly done. Having chatted with the lovely @AVoraciousReadr I came to realise that there are several interpretations of the ending which I think really adds to the fin of this novel. It’s one of those books that the more you ponder over it, the more questions you churn out. Great fun!
Author Bio – H. J. Ramsay
H.J. Ramsay has loved fantasy ever since she was a child. Growing up, she was influenced by movies like Legend, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth as well as books and short stories, such as The Collected Works of Brothers Grimm. She is drawn to fantasy with a darker side to its glittery world and the idea that things are never what they seem. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles and teaches writing classes at her local community college. Ever Alice is her first published novel.