Like Alice down the rabbit hole. Victoria on the trail of the letters lifted from her wallpaper enters a realm where everything is askew but somehow familiar -- either a reminder of home or a satire of mores and manners. The reader knows that she'll eventually retrieve each of the twenty-six letters and suspects that then she'll wake up; and there's a constant threat in the persons of master witch Madame Muzz and her cockney minions the three Robbers, some help from Alexandra the Russian reverse mermaid (fish head, female feet) and tiny hockey goalie Gibson who scorns being called a fairy; but what happens once the cast is set in motion isn't a story It's a string of acts (again like Alice) in which the clay people attack Victoria because she's different, the marzipan people embrace her because she's the same: in which she recoils from Mr. and Mrs. Loverlie competing arithmetically for affection, from Polite Society never saying what it means. As social comment, it's incontrovertible; but it remains a performance -- with abundant word play -- that's more inventive than engaging. And since you can anticipate the outcome but not the next capricious move -- which, means nothing to tingle over in terror or laughter -- there's very little reason to keep reading.