After years of arguing with his sister, Alice, about her alleged adventures in “Wonderland,” Henry wakes up after having drunk a particularly vile concoction and is shocked and surprised to find himself in the lair of a hookah smoking caterpillar. Henry strong arms his way to the answer as to how to exit Pillar’s lair, but shrinking to the size of a largish dust mite was not the plan.
Fortunately for Henry, the Mad Hatter has been sent to fetch Henry for questioning (beheading) and so the Hatter rescues Henry from a different deadly situation. The Hatter dislikes Alice, and by extension, Henry. They begin their trek across Wonderland and bit by bit, Hatter begins to appreciate Henry, who appears to be opposite to the hated Alice.
The perilous journey is fraught with challenges, from Drawrof, to the sinister Neverglades, and the terrifying Confection Mountains, or rather the Baker war going on in the foothills of the Confection Mountains where Henry sums it up best “…Wonderland sucks big, fat, hairy monkey balls.” A sudden change of heart prompts Hatter to attempt the unlikely. Hatter must save Henry by taking him to the now deceased White Queen’s abandoned castle, where the enchanted looking glass is hopefully still located, the same looking glass Alice used to return home once upon a time.
Nearly at their destination, the two realize that the Red Guard is on the way and they have no time to spare. Locating the looking glass, Hatter pushes Henry through and Henry finds himself in Alice’s attic with none other than Hatter. Now on the other side, the revelations come fast and furious, but can any of them save Wonderland from the Red Queen’s reign?
I’m not normally someone who pays that close attention to covers, although a good one will catch my eye, and Mad About the Hatter’s cover is awesome. Kudos to Paul Richmond for capturing the essence of the good in a stunning visual.
What prompted me to select Mad About the Hatter for review was the clever blurb. Having never been a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, I was intrigued. I really enjoyed the first half (or so) of the story, up until Henry and Hatter arrive in Henry’s world (the U.S., I suppose) where I felt the role reversal felt trite and not nearly as well written or addressed as the trip through Wonderland. Fortunately, the stop in Henry’s world was brief, and the story got back on track for me.
Although Henry’s reversal from disliking Hatter at the beginning to feeling more for him seemed quick, Henry’s brief period of introspection told us a lot about who his is, what motivated him, and to a lesser extent, how he felt. It still didn’t give me the feeling of progression or growth that I would look for and expect. I mean, Henry is quite the jerk until he wasn’t. Overall, Hatter’s gradual attraction to the very grumpy and argumentative Henry felt more natural, especially since the story is told primarily from Hatter’s POV, but that left an odd gap in terms of the relationship building until much further in the book. What I did notice is that the Hatter’s madness diminished as the story progressed, making me question Hatter as a character.
Alice in Wonderland was set in the U.K. and it appears that Mad About the Hatter is set in the U.S., which took me by surprise. Now the actual location is not specified, but the use of U.S. spelling was what nudged me in that direction. n this regard, I was not pleased because it did not match my world view for a Wonderland based story.
I did end up enjoying the story, regardless of my personal biases about the location of Henry and Alice’s home, and found the Alice in Wonderland spin off, and the fact that both Hatter and Henry exhibited or discussed being bisexual, as refreshing and unique for a YA book.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.