The Byways

The Byways
Publisher Name
Spark Press
Age Range
Release Date
June 06, 2023
Neurodivergent high school student CeeCee Harper has a temper and a reputation for trouble. Angry at the rumors and afraid she’ll never fit in, she makes a wrong move—and lands in the byways, a world of alleys, magic, and forgotten people . . . some that aren’t even human. And if she doesn’t escape quickly, CeeCee learns, she’ll be trapped for good.

Searching for a way out, she gets lost among monsters, drug pushers, the homeless, and political upheaval, and soon finds there are those who will stop at nothing to keep her from leaving. But the byways pull people in for a reason. CeeCee must figure out why she got stuck in the first place—before her loved ones are put in danger and she loses them forever.

A dark retelling of Alice in Wonderland meets Neverwhere, this contemporary fantasy will enchant Neil Gaiman and Christina Henry fans.

Editor review

1 review
An Alice in Wonderland Retelling unlike any other
Overall rating
Writing Style
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You've never read an Alice in Wonderland retelling like this.

The Byways by Mary Pasual is YA contemporary fantasy that pulls heavy inspiration from the likes of Alice in Wonderland and Neverwhere. CeeCee just wants to be like everyone else, but with her uneven temper and knack for getting in trouble because of it, her high school life is overly complicated. Until she stumbles upon the byways, a series of alleys filled with magic, and people that are often forgotten by society. Including those that might not be all that human. But as grand and wonderful the byways are, as they are indeed filled with monsters, drug pushers, the homeless, and constant political upheaval, CeeCee just wants to go home. But that may be more complicated than initially planned, as once you enter the byways, you can never leave.

This was an interesting retelling to say the least. As it hit all the high points of Alice in Wonderland's whimsy and absurdity, while still grounding itself in the limelight of reality. Though I do wish we did have less of that, though more in the sense of the setting being more than just a series of alleyways that seemed to go on and on and on and on. Until CeeCee found someplace else to exist, and ultimately return to an alley.

Yet with this limited setting, Pascual found a way to make her beautiful writing style blend perfectly with a plot that was both confound and a character that you just had to root for. Though the tone did shift quite a bit about halfway through the book, and I found myself wondering if it was printing error made to splice two books together.

I would gladly recommend this novel to anyone in need of a soft reset on the whole fantasy fad. Or in those in need of retelling that doesn't build an entire world just to resolve something that wasn't addressed in the original material.
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