Once upon a Wonderland


Loved it! 😍

Join Alice in an exhilarating and enchanting expansion to her adventures in Wonderland. A fantastical dystopic delight.

Transported back to Wonderland yet again Alice finds herself caught up in the midst of another adventure fuelled by a new host of intriguing and messy problems. At the heart of it all, Alice is on her own quest to reunite with Jack Door, her greatest love and adventure yet. This time, Wonderland looks and feels remarkably similar to her previous visit, but Time is all muddled up causing havoc with past and present events, meaning old friends may no longer exist. Alice meets and befriends several fairy tale characters, each revealing a dark twist on the stories she knows and loves, and each contributing to a tangled trail of chaos and confusion for Alice to unravel. With an ever-growing to-do list trailing down her arm, Alice makes it her mission to help out as many citizens of Wonderland as she can before returning home.

Once Upon a Wonderland is a fantastical dystopic delight. Stoneham captures Lewis Carroll's writing style with ease, adopting the whimsical nature of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland whilst making the story and characters his own. This new yet familiar Wonderland carries an extraordinary weight whilst upholding the legacy of its predecessor in which the text certainly delivers. It is an exhilarating expansion to the original tale, allowing readers to revisit the world and characters in a fresh and innovative style. With a world full of possibility, the author is able to explore and experiment with a new cast of characters from beloved fairy tales, which fit the narrative impeccably. There are extensive amounts of creative wordplay which is all witty and amusing enhancing the overall experience. Colourful descriptive imagery launches the reader directly into the pages, enabling us to experience the magical storytelling almost as if we ourselves are a character within the book. Accompanied by captivating and enchantingly unusual illustrations, Once Upon a Wonderland keeps the reader enthralled from page one.

The book offers a healthy escape from reality. Its creativity rooted in pure imagination imitates the simple essence of childhood, encouraging adults to acknowledge the carefree, more innocent characteristics in themselves, occasionally allowing that part of the mind to take the lead. As with the original Alice story, the text explores the defiance of societal pressures and expectations by subverting traditional values as well as leading with a self-assured, confident young woman who knows her own strengths and capabilities. In comparison to the original Alice story and in the prequel to this book, Alice Falls Again, Alice is now a college graduate, an adult faced with a world that extends beyond the security of her childhood and the challenges that come with leaving it behind. The events that take place in Wonderland mirror these changes she is experiencing, forcing Alice to deal with her problems head on. With Time not working as it should, over the course of the book Alice keeps growing younger, becoming more like the young girl that first stepped foot in Wonderland years ago. Through this narrative, we get to see just how much she has grown and matured since her first visit to Wonderland and witness how her journey back home forces her to deal with her fears about the future. Rooted within the book are strong themes surrounding mental health. Alice must explore the raw, unfiltered emotions she is feeling and recognise how they are connected to what is going on in the world around her in order to progress forward. One of her greatest strengths is knowing when to reach out for help, to rely on her friends, when it all gets overwhelming and uncontrollable. These topics are dealt with sensitively and maturely, heightening the story and enriching our connection with Alice.

Along with the Queen of Hearts, the Hatter and the Cheshire Cat (most of him anyway), Stoneham introduces a wonderful array of fairy tale characters to Wonderland, including Cinderella, Rapunzel and the Pied Piper. Each new addition contributes a change or obstacle to Alice's adventure, whilst offering friendship and a sense of familiarity of her childhood. The character's widely different stories to that of their well-known counterparts, reflect Alice's journey of self-discovery. As with all fairy tales, Once Upon a Wonderland is overflowing with morals, each offering a unique outlook or positive perspective on each difficulty Alice is facing. Both Alice and the reader alike embrace these words of comfort or important lessons and let the words filter into the unconscious for the next time they are needed. Alice has always been a remarkable heroine to demonstrate to all readers, but younger audiences in particular, that being different, unique, is something to be celebrated. Stoneham further emphasises that only with a mindset as special as Alice's is she able to overcome all her challenges, learn from them and ultimately save all of Wonderland. 

The book certainly works as a stand alone with all its charm and wonder, but I personally recommend reading both Alice Falls Again and Once Upon a Wonderland together for an irresistibly entrancing experience.

Reviewed by

Hello, my name is Jade Anna. I have a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature, and I love all things books! On my blog I post my book reviews, write character studies, ramble about books and share some of my own writing. One day I hope to be an author and illustrator.

That Sinking Feeling

About the author

David's novels include two Wonderland books and an epic fantasy duology. In the 1990s, he co-wrote a best-seller series of schoolbooks for English teachers and co-created a private anthology of short fiction, with forewords by Nicholas Negroponte and Arthur C Clarke. David lives in Finland. view profile

Published on March 23, 2023

80000 words

Genre: Fantasy

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