“This isn’t his sister’s Wonderland….
Henry never believed his older sister, Alice’s, fantastic tales about the world down the rabbit hole. When he’s whisked away to the bizarre land, his best chance for escape is to ally himself with the person called the Mad Hatter. Hatter―an odd but strangely attractive fellow―just wants to avoid execution. If that means delivering “Boy Alice” to the Queen of Hearts at her Red Castle, Hatter will do what he has to do to stay alive. It doesn’t matter if Henry and Hatter find each other intolerable. They’re stuck with each other. Along their journey, Henry and Hatter must confront what they’ve always accepted as truth. As dislike grows into tolerance and something like friendship, the young men see the chance for a closer relationship. But Wonderland is a dangerous place, and first they have to get away with their lives.”
The premise of Mad About the Hatter totally had me hooked. A LGBT story set in the world of Alice in Wonderland? Please and thank you. While I adore the original story, I was intrigued to see how successful a Wonderland story would be without the original Alice. Ultimately, Wonderland itself was my favorite element of this story.
Mad About the Hatter follows a dual perspective – on one hand we have Henry, Alice’s little brother who never believed in Wonderland until he woke up there, and the Mad Hatter, who will lose his head unless he brings “Boy Alice” to the Red Queen. From there, the two navigate Wonderland and despite their tense first meeting, become close. While I appreciated what the dual perspective intended to accomplish, there were chapters were it was difficult to tell their voices apart, and by the end it felt a bit unnecessary. The Mad Hatter was by far the most interesting character in this story, and it was fun to follow his thoughts and slippery language. Henry, on the other hand, often fell a bit flat, and I couldn’t really tell you about his personality. Their relationship was rather cute to follow, if a bit hasty.
Although this is Henry’s story instead of Alice’s, she is still present in Mad About the Hatter. Married with twins (named Louis and Carol, excuse me whilst I roll my eyes) at twenty-two, it’s hard to reconcile the Alice of lore with the domestic picture Chase presents. That connects directly into a bigger issue I had with this book: Henry and Alice live in the modern world. I understand why it was done, for many reasons, but it created an odd disconnect for me as a reader. It was almost impossible for me to accept that Henry’s Alice was the same girl in the original story, and I think that some of the magic got lost in the jump to 2015.
As I said earlier, Wonderland is truly the star of this book. The reader is treated to so much world building; all these parts of Wonderland that make it feel even richer. The thought behind these new areas of Wonderland fit in perfectly with what you’d expect from the original, and I eagerly anticipated the next stop in Henry and Hatter’s journey. I love the intricacies of Wonderland, and that came across really well in Mad About the Hatter.
Ultimately, this was a cute and enjoyable book, and if you want more Wonderland in your life, it’s definitely worth a read. The inclusion of a LGBT relationship in this world was great, and I would actually really like to know more about Henry and the Hatter’s story after this book ends.
*I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.