Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WONDERLAND by David-Matthew Barnes

WONDERLAND

By David-Matthew Barnes

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-60282-788-2
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

After her mother's death from cancer, Destiny is sent to the tiny South Carolina island of Avalon Cove to live with her uncle and his partner.

She is immediately befriended by Tasha and Topher, the town misfits, and the pair nearly as immediately take her to Wonderland, a run-down house with magic inside. Adrianna Marveaux, the house's owner, tells the three teens that each has a choice to make, then invites them to a dinner party that will be “a chance to come face-to-face with [their] true love.” Each teen gets only a short time with the otherworldly match Adrianna has made for them, and each responds with nearly identical, over-the-top euphoria (“We started to dance, swaying to the aching piano music Juliet played with the longing she now felt for Tasha”). So forceful is the book's insistence upon choosing true love that Destiny's ultimate decision is never in doubt, which takes away much of the story's dramatic potential. When Destiny considers choosing to bring her mother back instead of opting for true love, Adrianna’s response—essentially, that after Destiny's father broke her heart, her mother is better off dead—comes across as jarringly harsh. A subplot involving Destiny's uncle and his failing magic business resolves slightly too quickly, though there are plenty of warm moments between Destiny and her new family.

Intriguing concept, but it's hard to believe in all of the magic. (Fantasy. 12-16)