[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]
Kind of a darker retelling of “Alice in Wonderland”, down to the character’s name, but more hinged on fairy tales (the ones with not so happy endings, that is). Alice Crewe has spent her whole life going from one place to the other with her mother Ella, never meeting her famous grandmother, Althea, an author whose book is also impossible to find. When Althea dies, Ella and Alice startto believe they can finally have a normal life, but of course this isn’t meant to be, as things keep changing for the worst.
I liked this book, although I didn’t love it, possibly because I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I had mixed feelings about the time devoted to them, to be honest: on the one hand, I wanted the Hinterland part of the story to start much sooner, on the other hand, I felt that I also needed more time to get to know Alice and Finch better. Mostly they were all ‘on the surface’, and apart from Alice’s pent-up anger, I didn’t feel like there was much personality underneath. (I did like them, just in a sort of… indifferent way?)
The fairy tales / nonsensical parts of the book appealed to me more, in spite of similes that made me go ‘huh?’ more than a few times. I do have a soft spot for that kind of whimsical atmosphere, I guess. And what we see of the Hinterland tales Althea wrote made me think that I’d like to read *that* book, and know how its tales actually end.
The plot had its good sides and its downsides. I liked how its Hinterland part dealt with the power of stories, their straps, and the sort of twisted logic that one can find in them; however, I felt like it was a little lacklustre, and dealt with too fast (compared to the part devoted to the ‘real world’). There were a few loose threads, too—for instance, the red-haired man showing up at the café, then disappearing again. (Why did he go away at that specific moment? It was never really explained.)
All in all, it was an enjoyable novel, for one who likes this specific brand of atmosphere. It jusn’t wasn’t exceptional for me.