This speeds through Alice's arrival in Wonderland, leaving the palace, staying at Julius's, and ending up at the Hatter Mansion. Alice has sex with Blood. It's supposed to be a casual relationship, but she
feels hurt when she starts to think that Blood only keeps her at the mansion to spite Vivaldi. Blood's feelings turn warmer, but Alice can't bring herself to believe him, especially after seeing him with Vivaldi in his garden. She leaves to go back to Julius's place, but Blood pursues her there.
This is garbage. Very nearly incoherent, with hardly any story. It speeds through too many things too quickly, and I shudder to think of a newbie to this franchise picking it up. If it was written for franchise veterans, then a lot of stuff should have been left out so that Alice and Blood's relationship could be developed more. But if it was written for franchise veterans it was also largely unnecessary: this was basically a much sloppier and more condensed version of the first Alice in the Country of Hearts release in English, right down to the scene with Blood and Vivaldi in Blood's garden. It contributed nothing new.
There was zero decent relationship development, and it didn't give readers a very good feel for the characters, other than the very basics. It also contradicted itself. It said that Peter abandoned Alice after taking her to Wonderland, but she's with him at the Palace right from the start of the volume.
I read this right after My Fanatic Rabbit, and one of the things that struck me was how different Alice seemed. My Fanatic Rabbit was a Yen Press title translated by Ajino Hirami, while The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party was a Seven Seas title translated by Angela Liu (who, if I remember right, might have handled most, or maybe even all, of Seven Seas' Alice in the Country of translations). The Alice of these two volumes had more of a mouth on her than the Alice of My Fanatic Rabbit.
At any rate, this was probably the worst Alice and Blood pairing I've read so far. The volumes with this pairing are usually pretty good, if only because they dig into Alice's past more than many of the volumes with other pairings do, but this just felt like a cash grab. It would have been too confusing for a franchise newbie, it didn't offer anything new for franchise veterans, and, even though it introduced sex way earlier on than I'm used to this series doing, even that felt tepid. Unfortunately, the artwork wasn't good enough to carry it either - it felt like a riot of screentones.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
This is not the Wonderland that we grew up with. This one is brought into modern day with a criminal underground and internet hacking. The book is wonderfully written and fast paced with plenty of twists to keep you guessing. As far as the cyber world goes, this is about as advanced as it gets for me, but you don't have to understand the ins and outs of being a hacker to follow this tale - that part isn't that detailed. What I did find in this Wonderland tale is a suspenseful story as Reagan continues to chase the clues left by her brother and Hare plots his next move. Lindt's writing style and story-telling draw a reader in as both sides work to out-maneuver the other. The only drawback was that I felt like the conclusion was a bit too quick, especially considering the journey to get there. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale with it's suspense, romance, steamy fun, and some truly endearing characters.
I am writing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to the author for providing me a free copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review and to Rosie for the opportunity.
I try to read in a variety of genres (it’s good to keep the brain on its toes, so to speak, and since I joined Rosie’s team I’ve been tempted by the varied offerings of titles I might not have come across otherwise). But whilst for some genres I have to prepare myself and be in the mood, mysteries and thrillers I am able to read in most circumstances.
I liked the title of the novel (I don’t like liars, but an honest liar… well, I prefer that to people who swear blindly they’re telling the truth when it’s obvious they are not) and when I read it was set in the UK and it involved a family whose business was to publish books (and pretty fancy fairy tales editions at that) I knew I had to try it. And it does deliver in spades.
The story is told in the third person from the two main characters’ points of view, Milla Graham (although if she’s really Camilla Graham or her cousin, or somebody else entirely is a big part of the puzzle), a reporter who writes features about musicians and musical events, and Ben Taylor, a detective, divorced, father of a young daughter, and a man always on a mission to rescue somebody (especially damsels in distress, even if they don’t want to be rescued). There are other fragments, in italics, also in the third person, that narrate the event at the heart of the mystery (the night when the Graham’s old house burned down and three children and their mother died), that took place eighteen years before the rest of the novel. The point of view these other fragments are narrated from is not clear as we read them (other than it is somebody who witnessed what happened) but by the end of the novel we have a clear picture of what really happened (although we will have been tripped and wronged in our assumptions many times along the way).
Both main characters are likeable in different ways. Ben is handsome, honest and a good guy, who, as many female characters tell him, seems to suffer from rescue fantasies. He lives in a chocolate box cottage and he meets the other protagonist in a traumatic manner (he runs her over) in the first chapter. His car ends up in a ditch and as he has no other option he invites the stranger, a young woman, to his house. She disappears with some of his money early next morning but she does not disappear from his life. At first sight Ben appears to be a type of character we’re very familiar with (a handsome detective somewhat disillusioned by his job and with his family life in tatters) but his immediate attraction and sympathy for Milla makes him do out of character things that surprise others around him as much as himself. And we get to discover some surprising things about him too.
Milla is, without discussion, quite unique. She lives hand to mouth, has adopted the identity of the dead daughter of a very rich family (it made me think of the stories about Anastasia, the Romanov tsarina who was supposedly still alive), and it’s difficult to know what her real motivations are. Does she really believe she’s Camilla Graham? Is it all part of a hoax to get money? Is she trying to help Patrick Graham, the man who was sent to prison for the murder of his wife (and the real Camilla’s mother)? Is she the cousin of the family now trying to create confusion? Or is she a fantasist who does not know what the truth is any longer? She is determined, resourceful and will stop at nothing to reach her goal. Whatever that might be. And she is open about her lies (and does surprise herself when she doesn’t lie).
The novel features charming English towns, an old mansion that has become a gothic castle in ruins, murders staged to imitate the illustrations of famous fairy tales (with designer clothing and four poster beds also thrown in), a murderer dressed and made-up like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, mysterious bracelets, and a world of fairy tales that turns very dark.
The main characters are fascinating and likeable and you can’t help but root for them, no matter how outrageous their behaviours. If you stopped to think about it, some of their actions definitely stretch one’s belief, but the pace is so dynamic and the story so intriguing and surprising, that you keep trying to guess what will happen next and enjoy the ride. The writing is descriptive and vivid and one feels a part of the story, or at least a very close witness of the events. Although the crimes described are horrendous, there is no gross attention to the details of the violence, no CSI-style descriptions, and although not a cozy novel, it’s not a hard-edged thriller either. Ah, and there is romance but no explicit sex scenes (or implicit even).
I had a great time reading the novel, enjoyed the satisfying ending and my only disappointment is that being a big fairy tale fan I would have loved to get my hands on the wonderful illustrated volumes of fairy tales described in the novel but unfortunately it won’t be possible. I recommend it to readers of mysteries that prefer an involved story rather than a hard-edged scientific investigation in dark, urban and grittily realistic settings. If you love quirky characters, do not hesitate and give it a try. And I’ll be keeping an eye on Louise Marley’s work for sure.