Title– Ever, Alice
Author– H. J. Ramsey
Publisher– Red Rogue Press
Publication Date: Aug 2019
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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.
***2020 Silver Medalist in the Independent Publisher Book Award for Fantasy
***2020 Silver Medalist in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Best First Book
***2020 Reader’s Favorite Finalist in YA Fantasy
***2020 Gold Medalist in the American Fiction Awards in Fantasy Category
***2020 Silver Literary Titan Book Award
***2020 Finalist in the International Book Awards in the Fantasy Category
***2020 Finalist in the BBNYA awards
***2019 Finalist in Indie Diamond Book Awards Young Adult Category
Alice still insists to her family that her adventures in Wonderland are real and not a figment of her imagination. As a result, she is sent to an asylum.
Alice learns to keep her ‘delusions’ to herself in the hopes that she can one day go home but pours her heart out into her diary.
However, when a nurse finds her diary, it is too late for her lies to save her and Alice is headed for a radical new procedure; one that might strip her of herself forever.
In desperation, Alice turns to the White Rabbit who agrees to take her to Wonderland in exchange for one thing. She must kill the Queen of Hearts.
Reluctantly, Alice agrees and is thrust back into the madness of Wonderland.
On the other side of Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts, Rosamund, knows that there is a plot to kill her and take her throne. As her paranoia begins to grow and she starts to suspect everyone around her, Rosamund realises she might have to kill every last person in Wonderland to uncover the plot.
Having read quite a few Alice in Wonderland retellings, it gets hard to differentiate them from each other.
Thankfully, in this case, the Queen of Hearts was such an engaging character that it makes this book stand out. Rosamund was clearly unwell, and her spiral into madness and paranoia was fascinating. Her point of view made sense to her and so you could empathise with her actions. (Or I did, possibly because, as mentioned in previous posts, I might be a psychopath)
However, the actual protagonist, Alice, was such a bland character and a passive bystander of her own story. She was pushed from one interaction to the next and didn’t really contribute anything to the plot. Her ‘romance’ was forced and insipid and had me rolling my eyes. Even the Tweedledee/dum maids were more interesting and one of them died early on. There was a lot going on with ghosts and secret coups and love affairs and at times it was a little too much.
While there were no errors or typos in the book, I found it’s writing style to be very mixed.
The Queen of Hearts POV was a very Tim Burton dark Wonderland retelling with humour and atmosphere that kept me reading. But the Alice in the asylum was more a Suckerpunch-esque tale of insanity and abuse. The two sections were jarring when put together and pulled you out of the story.
I was also a bit unsure as to the audience. At times it felt like a YA but other times it felt middle grade.
I can’t say the book flowed very well as it felt like two books had been amalgamated into one. The quality was fine and the descriptive passages were well done but I didn’t connect with the book and found it hard to finish as I wasn’t all that bothered by the characters.
That said it was a decent addition to the myriad of Alice stories and has gained much acclaim so what do I know?
Maybe I’m just mad.