Hello everybody! Today, I`m going to be reviewing the Return to Wonderland, which I read last month and really enjoyed, even though I`ve not read the original book. Onto the post!
Acorn, Biscuits and Treacle by Peter Bunzl– this is about a boy named Pig, who has his life changed when he rescues three girls from a treacle well. Pig was a lovely protagonist, and I also liked the three sisters. I loved the frog footman too; what a cool character. The reveal at the end was great, as was the ending in general, and I thought this was a super enjoyable way to kick off the anthology.
The Queen of Hearts and the Unwritten Rule by Pamela Butchart– this focuses on the Queen of Hearts, and specifically the tourist industry that has sprouted in Wonderland following Alice`s rather famous trip down the rabbit hole. I really liked the humour of this, particularly the way it gently mocks modern culture. However, I found the constant cap locks really distracting, which unfortunately affected my enjoyment of this quite a bit. I have nothing against cap locks (I do it all the time myself, so I`d be a hypocrite if I did), but I didn`t see the point of them here- it didn`t feel like they were being used for a reason, such as for emphasis.
The Sensible Hatter by Maz Evans– this sees the Mad Hatter try to be more sensible after people criticise him for his silliness. It`s so entertaining, just as I`d expect from Maz (the writer of the brilliant Who Let the Gods Out quartet), and absolutely hilarious. It also has a really lovely message about how friends should love you for who you are and not who they want you to be.
The Missing Book by Swapna Haddow- I LOVED this one, which was super unexpected for me as I`ve not read from the author before, nor had I even really heard of her. It is about the Mock Turtle and the library he has set up within Wonderland- specifically a book appearing unexpectedly on its Missing Book shelf. The Mock Turtle`s narrative voice is absolutely glorious- he is so vain and yet also utterly lovable, and it just made this ridiculously fun to read. The ending was so clever and unexpected too.
Honour Roll by Patrice Lawrence– this is about a family of hedgehogs who have been (or one day will be) croquet balls for the Queen of Hearts. Honour, who is the hedgehog who narrates our story, was such a sweetheart and I loved reading her diary entries a lot. I was also a big fan of the excellent puns within the family naming system, and the really excellent worldbuilding that explains why hedgehogs are used as the balls.
The Tweedle Twins and the Case of the Colossal Crow by Chris Smith– This is about the Tweedle Twins facing off against some of their biggest fears. I thought the setting was really fun and captured the wackiness you`d expect from Wonderland. I also loved the hilarious relationship between the twins, and the great side characters. It also has a lovely message on the theme of fears.
Ina Out of Wonderland by Robin Stevens– this is set outwith Wonderland, in Oxford University, and even though I`ve never been and don`t know the place very well, I feel kind of like I have and do now because Robin paints such a vivid picture of it. The story itself is so clever and interesting, and I loved it, which is no surprise given that Robin is one of my absolute favourite writers- it`s about Alice`s older sister Ina, who is now “too old” for Wonderland and must find a way to protect Alice from its dangers. Other than the setting that I`ve already mentioned, my favourite part of this was Ina herself. My heart both ached for how abandoned she feels and also burst with love over how wonderful she was- she is so clever and calculating (in a way not unlike the Honourable Daisy Wells…) but for such compassionate reasons. The portrayal of Lewis Carroll is absolutely fascinating as well.
Plum Cakes at Dawn by Lauren St John– This tells the story of a visit the Dormouse makes to the Night Court, where he observes a trial. I really liked the humour and the courtroom setting- I always forget how much I enjoy a good courtroom scene when I`ve not seen or read any in a while! I also really liked the way Lauren St John`s usual environmentally conscious mindset was threaded in in a way that felt very natural.
The Knave of Hearts by Lisa Thompson– I can`t tell you much at all about the plot of this or I`ll give the entire thing away, so it`s about the Knave of Hearts, who is a very unreliable narrator. It`s brilliantly paced with a great reveal, and the narrative voice is super entertaining.
How the Cheshire Cat Got His Smile by Piers Torday– this is the origin story of the Cheshire Cat, who lived with a scientist and his daughter, and it was probably the most disappointing of the anthology for me. I really liked the Cheshire Cat himself, but otherwise I didn`t really find anything else that memorable or enjoyable.
The Caterpillar and the Moth Rumour by Amy Wilson– This is beautiful- Amy Wilson`s trademark lyrical writing works so well for the Caterpillar`s story, which is about him having to confront the past he`s run away to Wonderland to escape. It was so intriguing, and I loved both the build-up and the big reveal. I also loved the way other Wonderland characters were written into this, particularly the Dormouse and the Cheshire Cat. A gorgeous, uplifting end to this anthology.
Have you read this anthology? Which story was your favourite? If you`ve not read it, which do you like the sound of most? I`d love to hear in the comments!