Af­Ter aLiCe

Back down the rab­bit hole

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 246 pages | Hard­back/ebook Author Gre­gory Maguire Pub­lisher Head­line

This year marks 150 years since the first pub­li­ca­tion of Alice’s Ad­ven­tures In Won­der­land. It’s cer­tainly easy to see why a pub­lisher might want a new novel fea­tur­ing Lewis Car­roll’s char­ac­ters, but who would have the au­dac­ity to tackle such a project?

Step for­ward Gre­gory Maguire, whose Wicked riffed off a key work of Amer­i­can fan­tasy, L Frank Baum’s The Won­der­ful Wizard Of Oz, telling the story of the Witch of the West. Wicked went on to be­come both a best­seller in its own right and a block­buster mu­si­cal. Whether the same will hap­pen for Af­ter Alice is far from cer­tain – and not just be­cause Lewis Car­roll’s char­ac­ters and sce­nar­ios so of­ten seem to defy ef­forts at adap­ta­tion.

That’s not to say this slim vol­ume is a bad novel. Or un­am­bi­tious. Far from it. Other writ­ers might have been con­tent to fol­low Alice on a third trip – the word is, of course, ap­po­site, and that’s the first and last what-wasLewis-Car­roll-smok­ing? joke we pro­pose to make – into Won­der­land. In­stead, Maguire opts to have Alice’s friend, Ada (men­tioned briefly in Won­der­land), ex­plore the same strange en­vi­rons.

He also splits the ac­tion. Chap­ters in which we get to know Ada through her ex­pe­ri­ences down the rab­bit hole meet­ing the likes of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hat­ter and the White Queen are in­ter­spaced with chap­ters set in Vic­to­rian Ox­ford. Here, Alice’s older sis­ter, Ly­dia, and Ada’s governess, Miss Arm­strong, worry about what’s hap­pened to the two girls. An ageing Charles Dar­win is on a visit to Ox­ford. We also meet a former slave, a lad named Siam, and his guardian. It’s of­ten th­ese chap­ters that work best, as Maguire con­jures up a vi­sion of

Per­haps it helps to have read Alice’s Ad­ven­tures re­cently

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