Review

Review: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

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2 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

There is a definite trend for Alice in Wonderland related things at the moment, what with the 150th anniversary of the books publication in 2015. Since then I’ve seen countless retellings, spin-offs and books loosely inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll. Therefore, anyone writing one of these such novels has to work extra hard to make theirs stand out from the crowd, and sadly, apart from the gorgeous cover, After Alice didn’t really manage the job.

Following the tale of Ada, a friend of Alice who is very, very briefly mentioned in Alice in Wonderland, After Alice demonstrates how Wonderland has changed after Alice’s visit. Which is to say, not much at all. Following Alice’s journey almost step for step, Ada meets the various denizens of Wonderland – the walrus and the carpenter, the White Rabbit, the Duchess, the Red Queen – but, unlike Alice, her interaction is minimal and not half as entertaining. Ada seems to have none of Alice’s curiosity in ending up in Wonderland, and therefore the reader is not exposed to as much as they could be.

There were a lot of things I did not particularly enjoy about the novel. First, the purple prose, clearly trying to emulate Carroll’s style of writing, but falling slightly flat. Secondly, the sudden switches between tenses for no apparent reason – it would go from past to present tense and back without explanation, which threw me off a bit. And finally, this book shows a much darker side to Alice and her family. Considering that these were real people, and at times they appear almost vulgar and grotesque, I actually felt almost uncomfortable at their portrayal.

Every character felt flat and stereotyped, and the frequent switches between point of view (both Ada and Alice’s older sister, Lydia) made it too disjointed to feel like an adventure. Ultimately, I had a lot of trouble concentrating on this book, and it never managed to fully pull me down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland.

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #6: Fantasy Soundtracks

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my favourite fantasy soundtracks.

Yup, another excuse for a Spotify playlist! As I have discussed many times, I absolutely love film and game soundtracks, and often listen to them when I’m reading. So today I want to share some of my top tracks with you.

  • ‘Alice’s Theme’ by Danny Elfman, from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – whilst the film wasn’t really the best of Burton’s work, the soundtrack is pretty stunning. I love the choral part of this theme, which is used through many of the other tracks.
  • ‘A Proper Story’ by Darren Korb, from Bastion – this game is gorgeous on every single level. Visuals, voices, music and gameplay. Even if you’re not a gamer, the soundtrack is definitely worth a listen.
  • ‘The Legend of Zelda Main Theme’ by Koji Kondo, from The Legend of Zelda video game seriesThe Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is one of my favourite games (cell-shaded graphics <3) and the main theme throughout the games is absolutely wonderful. It's epic, heroic and totally fits in with the theme of the games. It makes me want to pick up a sword and go off on an adventure (donning a little green hat of course).
  • ‘Fenris Theme’ by Inon Zur, from Dragon Age II – although the entire soundtrack is great, this track is a particular favourite. I love the harsh, scratchy violin/stringed instrument (yeah… not sure what it actually is) combined with the rest of the music; it feels as though it is comparing Fenris’ previous life as a slave as the one he has in the game.
  • ‘I Am The One (High Fantasy Version)’ by Inon Zur, from Dragon Age: Origins – because this is the ultimate song of the entire game for me, it’s the ‘defining’ piece (not the actual main theme…). What does it matter that I can’t understand it, it still sounds beautiful!
  • ‘Sovngarde’ by Jeremy Soule, from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – I’m going to avoid the obvious choice of the main ‘Dragonborn’ theme here, and go for ‘Sovngarde’, which is similar but much more focused on the choral element. It sounds so primal and wonderful and conjures up all these images of Nords singing by a flickering fire in the dead of night.
  • ‘Main Title’ and ‘Mhysa’ by Ramin Djawadi, and ‘The Rains of Castamere’ by the National, from Game Of Thrones – I am never not going to be completely in love with the Game of Thrones title sequence, and ‘Mhysa’ is a more recent version from series three, which is more appropriate for Daenerys. And ‘The Rains of Castamere’, well it’s haunting and… do I have to explain?
  • ‘Obliviate’ by Alexandre Desplat, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – BECAUSE OF ALL THE FEELS. Last Harry Potter book, last of the films (kind of). This was the moment that meant the trio were going on their journey, away from Hogwarts. And I’m not going to lie, the first time I saw Hermione obliviate her parents’ memories I may have shed a tear or two.
  • ‘Harry and Hermione’ by Nicholas Hooper, from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – I’ve included this one in a previous soundtrack, and all I want to say about it is that I think it is absolutely beautiful and I will never not listen to it.
  • ‘Misty Mountains’ by Howard Shore, from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – and another one I will never not listen to. How can you not love this song?? Not only the dwarves’ perfect voices, but also Tolkien’s beautiful lyrics.
  • ‘Feast of Starlight’ by Howard Shore, from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – there are quite a few similar themes on Shore’s soundtracks for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but there’s something really different and quite magical about this track.
  • Literally every song on any of The Lord of the Rings soundtracks, by Howard Shore – don’t ask me to pick. I love absolutely anything to do with LotR perhaps a bit too much.

What are some of your favourite fantasy soundtracks?