I broke a cardinal rule last winter and booktalked Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars without having read it first. (In my defense, I didn’t actually talk much – just showed the book trailer and noted that we own the book.) It’s a reimagining of Alice in Wonderland; I talked it up as a fractured fairy tale. Having just finished it, I think it’s more a SF/battle story that happens to use Alice as its backdrop.
The story begins with Alyss Heart’s seventh birthday and a palace coup that forces her to flee Wonderland through the Pool of Tears. She lands in Victorian London and makes a life for herself with the Liddell family (Alice Liddell was the actual little girl for whom Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll wrote the original Alice stories), until eventually she’s brought back to Wonderland as an adult and takes on a fight for her rightful throne.
Frank Beddor walks a fine line in this book — Wonderland is recognizably the world of Alice, but it looks a lot different from the way Lewis Carroll brought it to us. The events of the story are plausible in that world, but completely new and intriguing. On top of that, The Looking Glass Wars is the start of a trilogy and is followed by a series of graphic novels dealing with Hatter Madigan (Alyss’s royal bodyguard).
Though I found this book slow at first, I think that may have been me and not the story. It picked up considerably about a third of the way through and really kept me going from then on. So I was wrong about the fairy tale situation — sorry, high school kids. You should probably read this book anyway.