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(re)Visions: Alice

Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam

(re)Visions: Alice presents a grouping of four short stories inspired by the words of Lewis Carroll in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as well as Carroll's original work. Since I had never read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I am glad it was included.

The first story, What Aelister Found Here by Kaye Chazan, tells the tale of a young boy who calls himself Aelister. Bored with his life at home and misunderstood by his family, he runs away, taking a train to escape to the bustling city of London. There, he meets many interesting people, the most intriguing being a powerful man called The Duke, who takes Aelister in. The Duke seems bent on keeping Aelister inside his grand mansion, insisting that the weather is always too bad to leave and the pair often engage in an odd battle of wits over chess. On rare occasion, The Duke sends Aelister out on odd errands, a dangerous task since the area of Whitechapel is currently being terrorized by Jack the Ripper, but could any of this have something to do with the deck of cards that seem to come alive when Aelister stares at them?

The next is House of Cards by Amanda Ching, which flips between a story about a young maid named Mary Ann and the entrance of Alice into Wonderland. It seems Mary Ann's mistress, Mrs. Liddell, has recently miscarried and is taking it quite poorly. Her fiendish husband, Mister John, expects Mary Ann to step into his ill wife's shoes and so he rapes the poor girl, only to have her boyfriend, Samuel, interrupt the deed. Samuel flees and Mary Ann is left to pick up the pieces. Meanwhile, in Wonderland, the arrival of a young girl named Alice, sends the Queen into a tizzy, however there are lots of parallels and occurrences that bleed from Mary Ann's reality into Wonderland and back again.

Knave, by Hilary Thomas, is easily my favorite of the bunch and is simply fantastic. Written in the noir fashion of a Mickey Spillane novel, the book's protagonist is Jack Knave, one of Wonderland's many members of its seedy criminal underworld. The whole place is run by The Queen, with Frank Duchess controlling part of the city and Rabbit as his second-in-command. There's Queenie's confidant and lover, Kingsley Hart; Jimmy Cheshire, who knows how to find just about anyone, but can disappear at the drop of a hat; Harry March, the Queen's former numbers man, and his effeminate lover, Maddie, who is very flamboyant and just a bit insane. And then there's Alice, a new gal on the scene and a gorgeous femme fatale sure to make Jack's life a whole new kind of trouble. She's up to something - and all of Wonderland is talking - and when Jack gets framed for bilking the Queen out of some dough, can Jack trust this dame or is she to blame?

Last, but not least, is The World in a Thimble, by C.A. Young. It starts off normally enough, with Toby being called to his art gallery because a petulant artist named Hambrick has decided he is ready to deliver his artwork for tomorrow's opening... at 3:00a.m. At the dark gallery, Toby is put off by the creepy Alice sculpture, one that has always made him nervous. When it moves on him, at first he thinks it's a trick by another artist, but when the floor drops out from under him and he lands in another world, Toby doesn't know what to think. Talking coyotes, money-grubbing fireflies, drag queens running odd sideshows, man-eating furniture and a dangerous woman named the Catmistress are just a few of the many characters Toby will encounter during his journey as both a man and a mouse. When he must face down Alice, the ruler of this twisted domain, he will have to prove his mettle or be stuck there forever.

As a collection, (re)Visions: Alice is very good. Fans of Carroll's works will get a real kick out of the way the characters and terms from his books are used in the short stories offered here. Each story is unique, although they are all quite dark and contain adult topics; therefore, they aren't for children. That being said, if you enjoy Carroll's turn of a phrase and are looking for some unique perspective on his classic works and iconic characters, check out (re)Visions: Alice.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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