Gregory Maguire is well known for his retellings of classic children’s stories. By far his most popular is Wicked – it was even made into a stage play. I’ve read some of his books in the past and I definitely enjoyed them, so I had high hopes for After Alice.
After Alice focuses on Alice’s friend Ada, and the other people in Oxford that she left behind while exploring Wonderland. Ada is a sickly, unlikeable little girl who runs away from her nanny and ends up following Alice down the rabbit hole. From there the story becomes split between Ada’s search for Alice, and those looking for them both back in Oxford.
I liked the premise, but it really failed to deliver. Maguire has attempted to write in the style of the original classic, but it comes off as satiric rambling. There are pages of Ada’s thoughts that are almost incoherent. Because of this, it was extremely difficult to become invested in the characters or care about their storylines at all.
The secondary plot line in Oxford felt really unnecessary, and ultimately made the story feel very fragmented. I was tempted to skip past those chapters, to get back to Ada and the actual Wonderland part of the story. I think the book would have fared better had the second plot line been dropped entirely.
This book is a mess; honestly, that’s the best way I could possibly sum this up.
Still thinking of giving it a shot? Really, just pass on this one.