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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
If Alice in Wonderland is your favorite classic, Weariland by Mary Shotwell is something that would command your attention. Wonderland is not what it used to be (hence the apt title Weariland). It has aged, along with the Wonderland characters, and become a darker place since The Queen of Souls, the heartless daughter of the Queen of Hearts, began her rule. Imagination is forbidden, the magical land is washed-out – the inhabitants are weary and live in fear of the Queen.
It’s risky to tweak a classic as well-loved as Lewis Carroll’s work, but Shotwell definitely has a great premise and plot continuation in Weariland. When the old Alice is murdered, her 15-year-old granddaughter, Lason Davies, is left with only the text ‘Hiding place,’ Alice’s last message. When one of the Weariland inhabitants comes to see Lason, she discovers that Alice was trying to help them win their freedom back and restore Wonderland to its former glory. Alice also possessed something the evil Queen desperately wants. Now it’s up to Lason to find and protect it, as well as take her grandmother’s place to defeat the Queen.
The plot is fast-paced and the narrative is concise. The length of each chapter is appropriate; some are very short (only a page) but well-executed. I feel that Weariland is a solid work as a ‘Carroll’ update, one that succeeds in serving a purpose in terms of either deepening or expanding upon the original’s plot, characterization, and premise. That said, this darker version of Wonderland is not quite suitable for younger YA readers. All in all, I enjoyed it.