The 10th installment in the New York Times best-selling A TWISTED TALE series asks: What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late? Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She’d rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian’s lively salon, ignoring her sister’s wishes that she stop all that “nonsense” and become a “respectable” member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss Yao’s teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She’s also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she’s curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming. But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects―the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There’s something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all―a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice’s help. Mary Ann. Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts’ tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?
Unbirthday is the twisted tale of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland by Liz Braswell. It takes place 11 years from the first Unbirthday Alice had to Wonderland. Having read most of the twisted tales in this series, I am continually impressed with the author’s ability to imbue each tale with the movie’s flavor while still making this tale new and delightful. It has just the right amount of sense and nonsense to help Alice navigate Wonderland, which is in trouble when the Queen of Hearts has decided to win all games for all times by hurting her citizens and seizing their toys. The tale hits on dark themes of civil war, loss, revolution, when to stand up, and when to run away while being everything that is expected in Wonderland at the same time.
This story is intertwined with the problems in Alice’s real-life centered around a well-intentioned but overbearing older sister, a political campaign with hateful agendas, and a love interest as enigmatic as the Cheshire cat. As the story progresses Alice learns that she has the power to make changes to help everyone.
What left me wanting more:
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Alice in the real world and the problems that she was facing there. Her interactions with Mr. Katz were a great addition to the storyline that I wished had been developed more. I found myself scanning the pages ahead to see how long it would take before he was back in the plot.
The Disney movie is a classic, but I would have to say I liked this twisted tale much better. I recommend reading Unbirthday as well as the other twisted tales in this series. Once again, Liz Braswell and the other authors in this series have made it relevant to our times and delivered a great story that readers can devour. This book practically has a banner that says, “Eat me!” as any good Wonderland story should.