Review: After Alice – Gregory McGuire

after aliceFrom the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis’s Carroll’s beloved classic

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice.

Rating: 2/5

Yes, this book was whimsical and quite creative and all over the place, but I found myself entirely disenchanted with it. And I know the original Alice books were also whimsical and creative and all over the place – the last time I read them was over 15 years ago – so either my tastes have changed over the years, or this book followed the formula but was simply missing the catalyst that made Lewis Carroll’s prose so magical. Looking at other reviews, I’m inclined to believe the latter.

And I think I know why – the original Alice tale’s had one perspective, while this book was told from around four or five different perspectives – which can lead to a very disjointed reading experience when the world building is trying to be quirky and topsy-turvy.

Unfortunately, I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. And frankly, I was bored, which is not what I was hoping for in a book with such a promising blurb. Furthermore, the racist (Victorian? I don’t know my era’s) attitudes of the time towards the one black child, rescued from slavers and brought across to the UK, were quite off-putting.

I appreciated some of the humour – the author can certainly riddle a phrase inside out – but that was sadly the only positive for me.

“We don’t know whether we’re coming or going. It’s supposed to be charming, but it makes out professional appearances alarmingly impromptu.” 


ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.

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