This trip to Wonderland delivers a mature, lasting jolt.



This YA fantasy debut sees Alice return to Wonderland to thwart the Queen of Hearts’ madness.

The year is 1888, and 15-year-old Alice Liddell is in the Warneford Asylum in Oxford. She’s been placed in Dr. Longfellow’s psychiatric care since nearly drowning in a river and returning from the magical realm of Wonderland. At school, Headmistress Collins had grown tired of her “childish nonsense” regarding the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, and others. Yet Alice continues to keep her memories alive in a notebook filled with sketches that she hides below the floorboards of her room. One day, she finds the halls of the asylum replaced by those of her home. She wanders through the familiar, empty place and outside to the river. “You’re late,” says the White Rabbit, or Sir Ralph of Longshoot (as he’s truly known). He informs Alice that the Queen of Hearts has gone “stark raving mad” and beheaded the king. Further, Alice must return to—and save—Wonderland. After waking from what might have been a dream, Alice receives a visit from her mother. She learns that her sister, Mary, is getting married, and everyone hopes she’ll be healthy enough to attend the wedding. Arrangements proceed for Swiss Dr. Gottlieb Burckhardt to surgically cure Alice of her delusions once and for all. In this historically relevant fantasy, Ramsay honors Lewis Carroll’s work while expanding how readers connect with Wonderland. The humor lines up perfectly with the 19th-century source material, as when the Queen of Hearts asserts: “You must slouch. Everyone slouches in my presence.” Ramsay also offers excellent philosophical bons mots, including this White Rabbit gem: “You’re supposed to be wherever you belong.” An intriguing, though dark, surprise awaits in the character of Burckhardt, an actual pioneer of psychosurgery (for example, lobotomy) who began administering crude procedures in 1888. It’s bittersweet that in Wonderland, Alice meets the Prince of Hearts and his presence takes “away all the confusion and fear.” But she nevertheless comes to realize that “something was missing deep inside...that made Alice...Alice.” A harrowing finale closes this mostly playful narrative.

This trip to Wonderland delivers a mature, lasting jolt.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 347

Publisher: Red Rogue Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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