Title: Mad as a Hatter (Sons of Wonderland Book 1)
Author: Kendra Moreno
Genre: Fiction/ Romance/ Fantasy/ YA/ Fairytales
Source: Goodreads Recommendation
Favourite Quote: ‘”Where are they going?” I ask White as I lean to the side to try and get a better look.
“The Hatter’s tea party is the last stop before the Hereafter,” White answers, sadness on his face. “Hatter sits with them all.”
“Those people were dead?” Surprise catches me off guard. I had been sitting with dead people, and I hadn’t even known it.
“They look more alive than when they were living.” He meets my stare. “We shed our misery when we die. And the Hatter,” he pauses, his eyes haunted. “The Hatter sees us in both skins.”‘
Clara can’t help but feel overjoyed at winning her latest court case, she can’t resist taking on the difficult underdog cases that for most would seem impossible, it just means that the success is even more victorious. Unfortunately she doesn’t have time to relax when a strange character shows up in her office with rabbit ears and a story about a queen who has to be removed from the thrown. She’s used to her clients exaggerating with difficult management and CEO’s abusing their power, but this is definitely a first. It doesn’t mean that she will treat this case any differently, that is, until her new client drags her into a portal into a dark and twisted forest. Clara finds herself literally following the white rabbit through Wonderland, but it isn’t anything like the stories she has read about.
Bugs that are drawn to blood, flowers that eat raw meat, and poisonous food and drink to keep her on her toes. She quickly finds herself standing in front of Hatter, the madness radiating off him as well as an attraction she can’t seem to suppress. Discovering that her fate has been destined to fulfil a role in a prophecy to take down the queen is one thing, discovering that she is also destined to be with Hatter, the first Son of Wonderland, is something else entirely. What choice does she have?
‘I watch him, weirdly enthralled. “What was in the tea?”
He smiles wickedly. “Poison.”
I feel the blood drain from my face. Had I been tricked? “What?”
“The anti-venom for the Beezle,” he says. “It’s made with its poison.” He looks at me thoughtfully. “Clara Bee will live to see another day to spend with me.” Singing, again. I’m beginning to see a pattern.
“So, you saved me?” I ask softly, a small smile curling my lips. I’m already softening towards the lunatic.
“Yes,” he replies, that grin still on his face. He leans closer, entering my space, but I don’t pull away. I don’t even think too. “Nothing is free in Wonderland.”
Wow. That was so cool. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one when I picked it up, but I wasn’t expecting that. There were so many aspects that I really liked about this story that brought a new perspective on Wonderland that was new and exciting, even as a ‘horror’ spin off. I can honestly say that I struggled to put it down, the prologue drew me in instantly. The storyline was interesting, the characters were wonderfully flawed and twisted from the original Alice and Wonderland story and the scenes were dark and fascinating. The only thing I didn’t like about it was how rushed it all felt which is why I couldn’t bring myself to give it 5 stars. Everything happened so quickly for such a prophesied event in Wonderland, it was so focused on the story that it failed to allow the build up with and between the characters.
Obviously the main focus was on Hatter, his link to the world as one of the Sons of Wonderland was really interesting, his life force was connected to Wonderland so he could only die if the world did. As Wonderland crumbled, so did his mind, increasing his madness by the day. Unfortunately all his ‘madness’ was shown as occasional rhyming and some emotional scenes which was slightly disappointing for a character who we were told was insane and couldn’t be trusted.
He’s actually a sweet caring character who has the whole world on his shoulders and can’t handle the pressure of Wonderland going dark around him. He’s lost and looking for hope that things will get better. Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely swoon-worthy and bold in his behaviour around Clara, but it was more that he accepted she was the one from the prophecy rather than actually getting to know her for who she was. The connection felt rushed and lost the excitement I was hoping for between them.
‘I glance at Hatters face. He wears the same amusement, like he wants to join March in the giggles on the floor, but when his eyes focus on me, he gains control over the impulse.
“How are you here?” I ask softly, turning on his lap to face him straight on.
“I am neither here nor there,” he replies. “I am everywhere.”
“I grasp the sides of his face seriously, urging him to focus on me alone. March’s laughter fades into background noise as I stare deeply into his eyes.
“I saw you die.” My voice cracks on the last word. “I saw you die twice.”
He studies me intently.
“As long as Wonderland lives, so, too, do I. Remember, Clara Bee?”‘
Clara was a great character, she was strong in her morals and put everything in to her work since she had nothing else. I felt when she was pulled into Wonderland, she kept a level head with everything except Hatter where she suddenly turned into a teenager with her emotions going crazy. It was slightly annoying at times, get some perspective girl! You’re in Wonderland where 90% of the world around you wants to kill you and all you can focus on is your outfits and being rejected when drunk on dangerous magical food.
I was expecting more of her lawyer side to have more of an impact in Wonderland since that was her entire life backstory. It sometimes begged the question of ‘why her?’ But maybe that’s just me. I still liked her attitude though, accepting that Wonderland was her new reality and that she was going to try and help no matter what.
The additional characters were fantastically written, the additional Sons of Wonderland, White (the white rabbit) and the Cheshire cat were as you would expect but with a darkness surrounding them and a cynical attitude with the broken world around them and the prophecy that they can’t quite put faith into after so much heartache.
I really enjoyed how the author was able to bring original characters along for the journey such as the Dormouse, a zombified version of the March Hare who is madder than Hatter, the White Queen, the Knave of Hearts, the Caterpillar, and especially Tweedledum and Tweedledee who are described as something literally pulled out of hell with their frightful appearance.
I guess the author just assumed we knew these characters and failed to give us any insight which let the story down, especially in this retelling where they are more dark and disturbing. I would have loved to have had more time with them and experiencing their own little backstories.
‘I fight the shiver that passes through my body as the twins focus on us. They’re beautiful and terrifying all wrapped up together.
“Is that who I think it is?” Dum asks, his voice echoing with agony long forgotten.
“It isn’t who you think it’s not,” Dee replies. They both tilt their head to the side at the exact same time.
“What is it that you see, Tweedledum and Tweedledee?” Hatter’s voice is dripping with menace. I’m glad he never uses that voice with me.
“We don’t know if it is.” Dee.
“But it definitely isn’t.” Dum.
“It must be Clara Bee,” Dee finishes. This is too much. Goosebumps rise along my arms. I’m not prepared when their full attention turns to me at the same time.”‘
Overall it was something I would recommend to anyone who likes a good Disney retelling with a dark twist, and I’m keen to read the other two books which focus on the other Sons of Wonderland, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat. Especially the Cheshire Cat, he’s intrigued me!
Descend into Madness…
Clara spent her whole life fighting in courtrooms for the downtrodden, the strange ones, the abused. It’s only natural that when a man with rabbit ears on his head comes to see her, she doesn’t blink an eye…
…until he opens a portal and drags her to Wonderland.
But this isn’t the world she’s read about at home. This world has been twisted, poisoned by none other than the Red Queen.
There’s a prophecy, the only chance Wonderland has of survival. Clara is foretold to defeat the Knave and claim the Hatter’s heart. But there’s a problem. The Hatter is insane and Wonderland is full of unspeakable horrors. Death waits behind every tree. If the Beezles don’t get you, the Bandersnatch will.
Can Clara embrace the madness and her destiny, or will the reign of the Red Queen continue?
This isn’t the Wonderland you know…