At the end of SEEING REDD, Frank Beddor's second book in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, Wonderland was in disarray. The power of the Heart Crystal had been contained and imagination was seemingly lost. Queen Alyss and her meddling aunt, Redd Heart, were left powerless and forlorn. Only one person looked to capitalize from the confusion and hysteria the citizens of Wonderland were experiencing: King Arch.
Not content with sitting idle in the neighboring Borderland, King Arch leads an all-out assault on the capital of Wonderland, while Alyss and Redd remain powerless without the use of their imaginations. He overtakes the palace and starts to construct a plan that can only end in disaster and leave him as the last royalty standing.
Along with her host of deadly assassins and without the use of imagination, Redd seeks to return to her origins. Still as bitter, spiteful and evil-hearted as ever, she would like nothing more than to regain her rightful place as Queen from Alyss. King Arch, however, poses a bigger threat at the moment, and Redd is starting to feel that familiar energy of imagination seep back into her.
Queen Alyss recognizes that, with or without imagination, a queen still needs to take care of her people. Alyss cares deeply for the inhabitants of Wonderland, so when she's forced on the run, her only concern is to overthrow King Arch and restore peace to her beloved country. It doesn't help that her thoughts are preoccupied with her bodyguard, Dodge, and their ever-complicated relationship. Does he love her? Does she love him? If only imagination could fix things already.
And let's not forget the caterpillar oracles. They may know the desires and future of those in Wonderland, but they always seem to have an ulterior motive of their own. It may indeed be that the fat oracles care only for tarty tarts (and lots of them), but they keep mentioning the safety of Everqueen. Who is Everqueen? As the last book in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, the stakes are as high as ever. Lives will be lost, relationships will be severed, and old enemies will unexpectedly unite in a climactic battle that is beyond imagination.
Frank Beddor's re-imagination of ALICE IN WONDERLAND has succeeded on so many levels. The introduction of The Cat and Hatter Madigan as assassins was enough by itself to take the storyline to a whole new level. Once heavily-armed card soldiers, epic battle scenes, and more imagination than your standard daydream were added to the mix, Beddor's tale transcended the level of fun children's story.
Fans of THE LOOKING GLASS WARS and SEEING REDD will not be disappointed in this third installment. If anything, Beddor ups the ante and dives even deeper into the characters by offering rare insights into their psyche. And action fans, don't fret: there are more knives, guns, ammunition and bombs than you can shake a jabberwocky at. On a final note, make sure you take time to visit the official website of the series, which contains information on the three books, book trailers, music, art, games, and information on the two graphic novels that accompany this wonderful series.
--- Reviewed by Benjamin Boche