The last words of her murdered grandmother haunt Lason as she travels to England with her sheltering mother for the funeral. The crime is a sensation, but the clamoring reporters and news photographers aren’t the only ones interested in their arrival.
As her mother’s behavior borders on erratic (on a good day), Lason encounters a stranger from Weariland, a dreary world once known as Wonderland. He petitions Lason’s help in finding a secret family heirloom, a key to saving his land—and to Lason’s past. Lason is swept in an adventure through
Weariland’s unpredictable realm, encountering colorful, fantastical characters and discovering her family’s elusive history. But if she isn’t careful, she may never return…
My favorite part of this novel is the plotline involving Inspector Landry. He is a very compelling character in that he gets involved in a situation that is way beyond his scope of normal understanding and he must decide how to react to it. He could go the logical route, which would be to deny the existence of an otherworldly possibility or he could follow his gut. Interestingly enough, he does the latter. I really enjoyed the noir aspects Landry brings to the tale, infusing the fantasy elements with a more grounded, practical point of view. If Shotwell writes sequels, Landry’s character, though friendly in this book, could be taken in many different directions.
The book itself is rather slow-moving at points, which is a product of Lason, Alice’s granddaughter, having to be acquainted with Weariland at the same time we are. Slowly, Lason must accept that reality is different than what she perceived and as a result, this introduction to another world takes time to establish. I do imagine subsequent books will move at a quicker pace, having already explained the backstory now. Overall though, the pacing has a direct effect on how exciting the events are that unfold. Even the final battle scene lacked a real sense of danger and urgency, leaving it a bit uninspired.
With that being said, those who enjoy the original Wonderland tales will appreciate Shotwell’s continuation of the classic. Even people unfamiliar with the source material will still be able to enjoy WEARILAND as it has enough of its own material to be a standalone book. Certainly this first novel is a great setup for an even better second one. I genuinely hope Shotwell continues writing, giving her characters the chance at more adventures, as their interactions with Weariland do not seem complete just yet. It will be fascinating to see what happens next.