We are a family of readers. Our wallpaper is effectively overstuffed bookshelves covering every topic known to man. (That is, perhaps, an exaggeration. In a fit of frustration, I did put my foot down when it came to a book on dirt, so we don’t have a book on soil.)
I am a fiction gal and Jarreg is a non-fiction guy. Sure I can pick up a non-fiction book from time to time. Once in a while Jarreg will read a fiction story after I praise it repeatedly, but our preferences lie in very separate territory. Luckily with books, the fiction/non-fiction divide is not like the cat-person/dog-person divide. Easier to tolerate or even like both (unless the topic is soil of course).
So one of the ideas I had for this blog when we started it was to have a weekly post about books. Jarreg and I will alternate the reviews so you readers will get a taste of both worlds.
The first book I want to review is the first in a trilogy by author Frank Beddor, The Looking Glass Wars.
The Looking Glass Wars overlaps well in the genres of YA and fantasy. Before I go much further I should explain YA as it isn’t discussed near as much it should be. YA stands for young adult, and that doesn’t mean kid nonsense. All YA means is that the main character is a young adult in age but not necessarily demeanor or attitude. Some of the best YA books in my opinion are ones where the protagonist shows depth of character far outside traditional expectations of youth. If it isn’t clear, I enjoy YA quite a bit and just be prepared because I will be reviewing plenty of them here.
Now, back to the book…
In the title, Beddor hints thatThe Looking Glass Wars will pull at least some elements of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” into the plot. However, Beddor does something different and completely turns Carroll’s story on its heels. Beddor begins by forcing the audience to accept that Carroll is not quite the beloved author we perceived him to be, that he is at best someone who distorts the truth and at worst a liar. The story starts out with a young woman named Alyss Heart (yes Alyss is real) who is furious that author Carroll has perverted the tale she desperately needed him to write. Alyss is stuck in this world estranged from her home in Wonderland. After Alyss finds out that Carroll took serious artistic license with her tale, Beddor takes us through the journey through Alyss real story. Now I am not going to walk you reader through the whole plot because I want the discoveries to be new, fresh, and exciting. I will tell you that Beddor takes elements from Carroll and gives them an exciting punch. The story is nothing like you expect if you are at all familiar with Carroll’s work. It is the story of betrayal in the land of wonder. Where white imagination aligns against black imagination and family ties are severed. Beddor molds Carroll’s characters in rather clever ways. Hatter Madigan (the Mad Hatter of course) is a fantastic warrior and has amazing depth. Queen Red’s assassin known as The Cat is just as brutal as Madigan is fantastic. Alyss is a far stronger character than Carroll ever imagined in his version. The secondary characters are surprising as well. Overall this is an action packed take on the classic children’s tale. The fantasy element feels nostalgic and fresh at the same time, and the character development doesn’t disappoint.
I am always hesitant to give too much in a review because I really want you to read the story. This is one hell of a story though. Enough that after you read the first book you will be begging for the second and third in the trilogy. Beddor keeps you guessing the whole way through.
My last recommendation for this book is that you try the audio. The Looking Glass Wars truly is one of the best audio books out there and it doesn’t even have a full cast. Rather, Gerard Doyle skillfully reads the story, believably shaping his voice just enough to pull the listener in. I found my self sitting in my car in parking lots over and over again because I couldn’t let go of the story or the person telling it.
That is your first Fiction Friday. Next week we will try for Non-Fiction Friday brought to you by Jarreg.