In this prequel to Alice in Wonderland, Catharine just wants to open a bakery. But, that sort of thing is not socially acceptable for the daughter of a Marquess who has caught the favor of the King of Hearts. You know what else is not socially acceptable? Entering in an illicit romance with the new court Jester, aptly named Jest. On top of her romantic issues, the kingdom is under attack from the Jabberwock, who swoops in and snatches people up from all the King’s parties.
My main complaints with this book are the stakes and the pace. Sure, it would be nice if Cath could open her bakery, but she’ll be okay if she doesn’t. It would be nice if she didn’t have to marry the King, but hey, she would get to be Queen and could spend her days baking. So I’m not really invested in the outcome of either of those plot lines, so that just leaves the Jabberwock. But what could have been really high stakes, are more like medium stakes. The Jabberwock, by my calculations, kills a total of three people, none of whom I care about. It should have wreaked havoc on the city. I mean, major destruction, a menace to lives of the people in hearts. It wasn’t a Godzilla level monster, but more of a Weasley Garden Gnome nuisance. So, overall, I didn’t really feel the necessity of anything happening in the plot, it all felt too safe. Which is why the pace was a little slow for me. Most of the first half was all about baking, which made me want to go get a snack instead of reading the next chapter, and the King. She kept lamenting about not wanting to marry the king, but she didn’t DO anything about it. In that same vein, there’s a lot of talk about who she doesn’t care if she ruins her reputation, but it remains intact for the entire book.
I did like the homages to the original book and to Poe’s “Nevermore” poem. It definitely felt like Wonderland without ever stating that that’s where it’s set. Probably because people from Wonderland don’t call it Wonderland.
I think it would interesting to see the Queen of Hearts side of the story after Alice arrives, sort of like the Maleficent movie. What retellings/prequels would you like to see?