I consider Gregory Maguire’s Wicked to be one of my all-time favorite books, but Maguire is still a relatively unread author in my reading life; my attempt at reading Son of a Witch ended in my discard pile, and I hardly remember what I thought of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. For these reasons, it might have been better for me to pass up reading After Alice, Maguire’s spin on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.
It’s been more than a decade since I read Alice in Wonderland, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to read After Alice to read Carroll’s stories for a deeper understanding and connection to Maguire’s tale. After Alice follows another little girl—named Ada—on her journey through Wonderland as she attempts to locate her missing friend, Alice. I found out after I finished After Alice that Ada had been briefly mentioned in the original Carroll story, and now I am slightly curious about how Carroll described her. Maguire’s Ada came across as rather dull and interesting, which, while intentional, made for a tedious reading adventure.
Maguire’s writing style can also be challenging for a reader. I zoned in and out of the story, struggling to keep firmly planted with Ada in Wonderland, and then with the alternating story of what was occurring in Oxford at the time of Alice’s disappearance. Charles Darwin is also tied into the story, and his connection to Alice and Wonderland were difficult for me to grasp.
I knew early on while reading After Alice that I was not the appropriate audience for this book. Readers who are fanatics about Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll will most definitely have a greater appreciation for After Alice, though I’m certain that there will also be a group of Alice fans who won’t enjoy it at all. Though I most definitely wasn’t a fan, I did find a couple of passages that I highlighted (which were unrelated to Wonderland and Alice) because they resonated with me. For that alone, I’m grateful I read the book.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.