Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay

Ever Alice


Ever Alice
by H.J. Ramsay

Fantasy/Retelling

347 Pages

Published by Red Rogue Press (1st August 2019)

Purchase from | Booktopia* | Fishpond AU*|  Bookshop.org  | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository* |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Red Rogue Press, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 3.5

Did you ever wonder what happened to Alice once she escaped Wonderland? What the conversations following her ordeal must have been like? Look no further. In this story, Alice is fifteen years old, and she still remembers everything about Wonderland. This in turn finds her admitted to an asylum by her parents to help deal with these delusions she keeps speaking about, and they must be quick about it because Alice’s sister Mary is to be married, and Alice is expected to attend. So when Alice’s regular Doctor is unable to fix her, he seeks the help of a colleague in Europe, who has been trialing a new procedure to help with madness. Alice is terrified, she doesn’t want the procedure, but there’s no way out of it, until the White Rabbit appears and grants her an escape. Now back in Wonderland, Alice finds herself immersed into the world that everyone told her was not real, only this time, things are different. This time Alice has been beseeched by the Aboveground Organisation to take out the Queen of Hearts…Will she be able to do it before it’s Off With Her Head?

I was pretty excited when my request for this ARC was accepted. This story then proceeded to sit on my kindle for around twelve odd months because I over-requested last year and ended up with so many ARCs to get through. What excited me about the premise of this story was that it reminded me a lot of a game I played in my youth called American McGees Alice. In which, the game opens with Alice’s house burning down and her becoming committed to an asylum because, from memory, I think her parents died in the fire. In the game, Wonderland was severely warped and wasn’t the quirky and fantastical place of the original story, it was cut throat, terrifying and downright broken in what it had become. So I was kind of hoping that this would be similar to that. In a way, it kind of was, but for the most part, it was nothing like what I had hoped, but that’s okay.

There are some gruesome parts to this wonderland, but for the most part it jumps between “something’s not right” to childish in parts. But I feel that this may have been the intention of the author. The Queen of Hearts comes across incredibly childish, and we’re not actually privy to her age or anything, so I had this bizarre image of a woman in her 50s with the mind of a 10 year old, basically. For some reason though, this really worked for the story, because what is more terrifying than a ruler who has the mindset of a child?

The ‘quirkiness’ of Wonderland was still there in this story, however, I found it to be somewhat warped, not to the extend of my beloved American McGees, but warped none the less. The story itself managed to give the feeling of unease and discomfort with it’s descriptions of foul smelling and tasting teas, scratchy blankets, prickly pillows and lumpy mattresses. So I feel like the slight spin that Ramsay put on their version of Wonderland did come through in the execution.

One of the twists I had picked virtually from the beginning when Alice is first escaping back to Wonderland from the asylum in Europe. However, I hadn’t picked ALL of the twist, so one part of it did come as a surprise in a rather circular way (I’m not going to go any further into this or give comparisons to what it’s similar to as I feel like this blows the biggest twist in the book).

The story is told through third person perspective, alternating between Alice and Rosamund the Queen of Hearts. Alice came across rather flat for me, and more like a plot device than a character, which I was a little disappointed about. There were a lot of characters, and they were all given screen time, I just felt as though Alice didn’t come across as the protagonist the way she should have considering it’s a continuation of her story. But the more I think about it, I feel like this was done for a reason and has to do with that big twist I was talking about so I’m gonna shut up about it now. One character I didn’t quite understand was Marilyn Montague, I don’t really understand her purpose in the story or why she was a carbon copy of Marilyn Monroe…maybe I missed something?

The biggest problem I had with this book was the pacing. For the first half, it was incredibly slow going, and while things were happening, they just weren’t that interesting. I considered DNFing at around 28% but decided to stick with it, and I’m glad that I did because once you get past the 50% mark, I felt like the story really picked up the pace and I became invested in what was going on.

All in all, this was an interesting extension of Alice’s story and I really enjoyed reading Ramsay’s take on what life possibly could have been for Alice after her escapades in the original story. If you find yourself struggling in the first half, do try and push through because the ending is worth it and I feel that the story really does pick up in the second half.

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