Published by Red Rogue Press on August 1st 2019
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.
Today’s book tour is a special one. It’s the first on my BBNYA book tours! Ever Alice by H. J. Ramsay ended in the tenth place of the 2020 awards, but the committee shared that all of the finalists were incredibly close to together. I think all of the finalists are winners because the quality of the whole competition was so high. I think some books which didn’t make it past the first two rounds are still really good and some of them are on my TBR or I’ve already read in full. But without further delay, Ever Alice!
I always have certain expectations when I’m reading an Alice story. Tropes that are specific for Alice in Wonderland narratives. One that I see often is Alice in combination with a mental illness. Her parents (and society) sees her as mad. Like a hatter. This one I don’t like. But I honestly cannot imagine an Alice story without a Queen of Hearts yelling “OFF WITH HER HEAD” or the White Rabbit. All of what I had expected to find, was there. And more.
There’s also a certain tone. The kind that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Wonderland has its own language and without it, it’s not much of a Wonderland. Ramsay has done an excellent job in integrating the language. Alice still feels very much like the British girl visiting this strange country. And the chapters from Rosamund’s perspective have a really different voice, the Wonderland voice fit for a Queen of Hearts. Sometimes I’d even be a little sympathetic to her. Until she signs another death warrant, that is.
There was only a small thing about motivation that I didn’t quite get in relation to how Rosamund grow to be who she was now. She says it’s Pedro who influenced her, while earlier Alice is told it were the Queen’s advisors who drove her mad. I don’t think I can say for sure what was the reason she’s gone mad, and that’s a missed opportunity. I also feel like the last part of the book doesn’t feel as polished story-wise as the rest. It felt more chaotic, trying to tie all loose ends together, but pulling out everything on the shelf. Even those things that had disappeared before. Some of the resolutions didn’t feel satisfying.
I give Ever Alice by H. J. Ramsay four stars. I enjoyed this Alice retelling and I think fans of Wonderland will too. The story fits very well in the Wonderland universe and Ramsay has done an incredible job of integrating all the things that make an Alice story an Alice story.
I received this book to read and review as part of the 2020 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest. Please check back later for more reviews of other finalists.
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