I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I’ve never read any of Lewis Carroll’s work other than a few of his poems, but I know enough of Alice to find it familiar. Dakota Chase took the story and turned it on its head a bit. Instead of a young girl protagonist, we have her brother. There’s quite an age gap between them, and Henry proves to be just enough of an angsty 17 year old to appear real but not too angsty to become horribly annoying. Henry has heard stories of Wonderland since he was a young child. It’s always frustrated him that something bad happened to his sister and he’s never heard the truth. Henry believes that since he’s almost an adult he deserves the real story. Obviously, Wonderland is not a real place. Mad Hatters, endless tea parties, and violent, paranoid Red Queens are the things of fairy tales. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself face to face with a hookah smoking, talking Caterpillar?
Perhaps because Henry has always denounced Alice’s stories, when he finds himself in Wonderland he really can’t believe that everything that starts happening to him is truly happening. His misgivings, fears, and curiosity were nice to read. Finding yourself in another world is cool, but I find it unrealistic when characters don’t reflect on their new surroundings. They sometimes accept them too quickly. The changes in Henry are realistic and very gradual. They don’t happen immediately, and it allows his relationships with the inhabitants of Wonderland to progress slowly. Henry’s curiosity allowed us to see parts of Wonderland that Hatter would have had us pass through quickly.
This is the second male / male romance novel I’ve read, the first being Always Leaving, a short novel by Gene Gant that I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Found here) It was a less than stellar romance, between stalking-like behavior and a not so amazing romantic connection between the two male leads. So I was a little worried that I’d find the same here: romance that was forced and not realistic. This was so lovely. Henry and Hatter were both very confident with their sexuality. There was no waffling about how they felt. It was very straightforward: love is just love. They’ve both had various romantic tangles with various genders. There was an emphasis on finding that person that gave them the spark and not so much on anything else.
I wish there had been more time spent in setting up Wonderland. Everything that was included was incredibly visual, but there just wasn’t enough. I would have loved to see more areas as Henry and Hatter journeyed all over Wonderland. Mad about the Hatter was whimsical in its scene setting and had some of the most entertaining similes. I had a lot of fun reading this novel and would recommend it for people who enjoy retellings of fairy tales. It’s a nice companion to the original story. Mad about the Hatter is set in contemporary times with elements of the old mixed in.
I received a copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Mad about the Hatter was available on August 20th, 2015.