The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor and when I read it I didn't have much to say about it other than I loved it. I've been eye-balling this book on my shelf for some months, wanting to pull it down and read it. I'm trying to keep February a relatively light and fluffy month for books and this book fit the bill. Not to say that it's light. Or fluffy either, really. But it's fun and that's the point!
The Looking Glass Wars is the first in a trilogy of books describing what "really" happened to Alice from Wonderland. As it turns out, Lewis Carroll had it all wrong! Alyss Heart is heir to the Wonderland throne but circumstances have caused her to seek refuge in our world for a time. The book opens with Alyss at age seven, living in a palace in Wonderland with her parents, the King and Queen. Their happiness is broken up by the reintroduction of the Queen's mother, Redd, who comes back to Wonderland to claim the throne she believes is rightfully her own. Alyss flees from her aunt, spending many years in exile before returning to Wonderland to re-establish her rule with the use of White Imagination. This is a story of good and evil (the roles being well established), adventure, intrigue, humor and fantastic battles with glass eyes and decks of cards. What you thought you knew about Wonderland will be challenged by the reading of this book.
I really enjoyed this read. I still love it and would still recommend it for engaging entertainment. (I zipped through it in two days.) It's imaginative and very, very fun.
One of my reasons for wanting to re-read it was to see if it might be appropriate for Bookworm1 (age 9) and ultimately, Jonathan and I deemed him ready for the book if he's interested in it. He's hit a point in his reading where he wants to read things that are more "exciting" and this book certainly is that! However, I'd offer some cautions about the book which I failed to mention before. I'll go about this with some Q and A's.
Question: Do you have any cautions about reading this book in general?
Answer: I have two cautions to offer the more conservative and/or easily disturbed reader. The first is that Redd is a very nasty villain. She doesn't scream, "OFF WITH HER HEAD!" unless she means to do it. She's vindictive, angry, and lends a certain "chill factor" to the book. She's low-down mean and nasty and you'll hate her appropriately. My next caution would be to Beddor's willingness to offer somewhat gory descriptions from time to time. This is an ever-so-slight spoiler but Alyss's mother, Queen Genevieve has her head cut off and Beddor describes the head going one way and the body another. There is also talk of blood during battle scenes. Jonathan and I both read these passages and counted them no worse than what you'll find in The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. If you can handle the levels of action and gore in those books, then you'll handle this just fine.
Question: What age would you recommend this book to?
Answer: I wouldn't. Our eldest is 9 and is complaining that the books we give him are not exciting enough to hold his attention. We want him to love reading so we're upping the ante a bit and previewing books that fall in line with what he's asking for. He's currently reading The Fellowship of the Rings and loves it. His favorite series - the one he says is most exciting to him - is Harry Potter. We think he'll like The Looking Glass Wars. We would never let him watch an on-screen version of this or the other movie versions of the books mentioned. He doesn't like things to be too intense on a screen but he can handle things on the page. Originally I had thought not to give him this book until he was 11 or 12 but we're going to go for it now. I think each parent should decide for themselves when they think their child is ready for this read.
Question: What do you think of Frank Beddor's writing style?
Answer: Last time I read this book I remember thinking that he wrote this story in such detail as to turn it into a screen play with little difficulty. The humor is spot on for a movie and you can easily visualize what the characters look like at any point in time. He's almost overly descriptive and it feels very much like that's an effort to catch the attention of Hollywood. All the same, the story is quite thrilling and I smirked and smiled at all of the parts he wanted me to. He's a very engaging story teller, that's for sure!
Truly, I enjoyed this read to such an extent that I immediately pulled the sequel, Seeing Redd, off of my bookshelf to start reading. If memory serves, while I was enamored with The Looking Glass Wars, I didn't care for Seeing Redd nearly as much. I got tripped up on that one and never read the third book. We shall see what my updated thoughts are when I'm done reading the sequel. (I'm halfway through it at the present). The good news is that Looking Glass Wars really can stand alone as its own read so feel free to enjoy that one thoroughly if you think that you can!
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