Ada is a smart girl, daughter of a preacher, who slips into a hole and finds herself in this strange land. All Ada wants is to find her friend Alice, deliver some marmalade, and get back to evading her governess. Everything seems upside down and backwards in this place called Wonderland. Every person/animal/plant that Ada talks to tells her about the strange, blonde, clueless Alice who has just left. Yet, no one can tell Ada where to find Alice.
Meanwhile, we get chapters focusing on Alice’s older sister Lydia and her attempts to defer looking for her sister, and later Ada too. Lydia is stuck in a world of grief unspoken, womanhood not achieved, and childhood long forgotten. She is expected to be both woman of the house after her mother’s death and child, seen and not heard.
Gregory Maguire really has created a masterpiece in this novel. In After Alice, Maguire crafts a world where girls attain adulthood, navigate the strange worlds they live in (and the one they visit), and explores the confusion experienced when you feel different than others see you. I cannot explain the way he crafts this world better than the New York Times Sunday Book Review:
Maguire effortlessly leaps between the absurd illusions of Wonderland and the building suspense of the search for the children in antique Oxford.
I am also about half-way through my next epic adventure. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan, is the first in a series about the Norse gods. This book is set in the “same universe” as my favorites Percy Jackson (Greek), The Heroes of Olympus (Roman), and Red Pyramid (Egyptian).
Magnus Chase is a 16 year old homeless orphan living in Boston. He awakes to find his friends telling him that there are a man and a girl looking for him – bad news for someone who is homeless. Magnus finds himself battling a crazy fire god on the bridge over the Charles River where he is killed.
That’s right, he dies at the beginning of the book.
It’s okay though, because Magnus is taken to Valhalla (an afterlife built for Viking warriors). Things are not quite what they seem in Valhalla either. Turns out that the Valkyrie who brought him to Valhalla, Sam, may have made a “mistake”, and that Magnus is not exactly welcomed with open arms.
We also learn that Magnus has a cousin whom we know. Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena and main character in the Percy Jackson universe, knows something is different with her cousin. Granted, she hasn’t seen him in 8 years, but she willingly believes his stories about fire gods and battles. So far, they haven’t had too many moments together (she watched the whole bridge battle and they have met in the funeral home before his wake and service), but I am hoping that there will be more connections.
Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of this review!
What did you read this week? Did you read all the books under your tree yet? Let’s talk below…