"Mad Hatters and March Hares" Book Review
Written by Jennifer Turner
Published by Tor Books
Edited by Ellen Datlow
2017, 336 pages, Fiction
Released on December 12th, 2017
I admit that it's been an age since I have read Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, but I still remember what a magical tale it is. Mad Hatters and March Hares carries on with magic, throwing a few little macabre twists along the way.
As this is an anthology I'm not going to tackle every story in here, but will highlight some of my favorite tales.
First up is "Lily-White and the Thief of Lesser Night" by C.S.E Clooney, which is a great adventure tale reminiscent of the original Grimm's Fairytales. The story centers on two sisters Lily White and Ruby Red who venture out into the unknown to seek out a monster that is eating all the Cheshire animals. This is the stuff that fairytales are made of, with visually haunting descriptions, likable characters and just enough darkness thrown in for good measure. I find myself needing more of this story, praying that Cooney expands on it.
I have to say that "Conjoined" by Jane Yolen is by far my favorite tale in this anthology. The title refers to Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, conjoined twins who are often at each other's throats. The twins sadly aren't the main characters because I would have loved to read more about that. The main character is in fact an orangutan that is tasked with the job of killing the fabled Jabberwocky and saving Wonderland. Like the previous story, it's the perfect blend of adventure and horror with a neat little twist ending. Normally I don't like reading stories through an animal's point of view, but the author makes it work without being silly.
Priya Sherman's "Mercury" goes on a different path than the previously mentioned titles, straying from fantasy to real life. Our protagonist is Alice, the daughter of a hatter that's gone a little mad. Sound familiar? It takes place in a debtor's prison where Alice gets involved with a dangerous plot with the Knave in order to change her circumstances. I especially love the real-life counterparts to the Wonderland characters, particularly Mr. Cotton, an albino who's always running late.
This is a wonderful anthology and there's not a single offering in this book that I dislike, which is rare because I dislike most everything. Mad Hatters and March Hares takes everything you know about Lewis Caroll's classic story and expands on it creating a wonderfully dark and frightening place to be. Kind of like church camp but less scary. Highly recommended.
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