So yesterday Beware the Claws that Alice was published in the UK. Like many of the books I’m reading currently I’m never sure what to expect and after reading Chasing the Stars I was looking forward to this retelling. Over the years we have seen many new imaginings of Alice’s tale from video games to movies which all fall down a deeper, darker route down the rabbit hole.
We find Alice in an asylum mumbling about an elusive Rabbit while living next door to Hatch. They break out of the asylum after a mysterious fire and escape to Old Town, a place where the darkest of evils roams searching for something. In a place where magic has been driven from the land there is an abundance to be found in the places and hovels that Alice and Hatch find themselves. The Caterpillar, the Rabbit and the Cheshire cat take on new guises with new characters far from the original telling of Lewis Carroll, darker and terrifying guises.
Alice is not the innocent girl portrayed in the movies and book, she is aware of the evils that surround her even if she can’t remember the forms they come in. Hatch has seen his fair share of evil but like Alice he is unsure of his memories. It becomes apparent that neither are reliable but as the novel progresses we can see why and understand why neither of them are.
While I was expecting a dark tale I was surprised by the tone that the novel took. Considering that the novel seems to aimed at a young adult audience it tip toes the line crossing into adult. The issues that it deals with are tough and delicate ranging from coming of age to loss. I’m hesitant to talk about the other issues at the risk of spoilers but trust me when I say they go a lot darker than expected which I enjoyed.
What I will say is that the novel seemed rushed at times to reach its conclusion and the book felt like it was leading to a much more dramatic ending which didn’t meet my expectations. The brutality which can be found throughout wasn’t matched in the ending and while I understand how the ending is more subtle kind of (I’m reluctant to use the word evil) evil, it is a fitting punishment for the jabberwocky. The last book I read that had a similar ending was Inheritance by Christopher Pauloni, in that; violence is not always the answer when dealing with an extreme evil in the world.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book. With Alice and Hatcher now out of Old Town (that’s the only spoiler I will say) I can’t wait to see how they survive and the new perils they face in their new quest.