A New Realm of Exploration | Review of ‘After Alice’

By Cynthia Ayala

After Alice‘ by Gregory Maguire
William Morrow

What happened after Alice fell down the rabbit hole? Ada, Alice’s closest friend, follows her friend down the rabbit hole in order to bring her home going on her own adventure through the nonsensical Wonderland where her own ideas and ideals are put in question and the world of Oxford England reacts to the disappearance of these two young girls.

After Alice is the newest novel by bestselling author Gregory Maguire. Published on October 27, 2015 by William Morrow, this new tale is a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland.

Gregory Maguire is known for his retellings within the narrative world and for this novel he has tapped into the writing style of Lewis Carroll. For anyone who has ever read the original tale of Alice in Wonderland will see the resemblance in writing styles and how Maguire was able to tap into his technique of writing and tell this tale of Alice’s friend Ada who is briefly mentioned in the original.

Taking that one word, Gregory Maguire has spun a new tale. But there are complexities. It’s very hard to actually get to this novel because of the way it was reading and the function of the story. It focuses more on everyone than on just Ada, exploring the world outside of Wonderland and that is a little bit of a let down. While it’s understandable for Maguire to want to recreate a story outside the realm of what has already been established within the Wonderland Universe. It’s clear that the author wanted to explore the world outside of Wonderland and that is a little bit of a let down as far as expectations go because this author did amazing things retelling tales like Oz and fairy tales, explore the fantastical. But a lot of the magic that the writer is known for is lost in the text. Maguire instead focuses more on the characters and what drives them.

There is a central motif surrounding childhood and the loss of childhood. This novel is all about what it means to be a child. However, the reader has to read between the lines and focus on the characters and the dialogue to really understand that motif. The more the story evolves the more the motif becomes more evident, but that revolves on the readers dedication to continue reading the novel. And you have to be a fan to stick to this novel.

It’s a complex story that doesn’t have a lot of fantastical elements which is the biggest downside of the novel and the parts outside of Wonderland, while definitely something new, took away some of the magic of Ada’s journey through Wonderland in search of her friend, Alice. This isn’t a story about another adventure in Wonderland it’s tale about everything that happens following Alice and her adventure.

While definitely well written, this novel has less magic in this than one would expect from a Gregory Maguire tale. It’s a bit of a let down as far as expectations, but once the reader sees the novel for what it is, a tale about childhood rather than retelling of Alice in Wonderland, it is enjoyable for that because Maguire channels Lewis Carroll in the writing style. (★★★☆☆ | B)

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