The following was written by my daughter, Katherine, whose debut novel, Rhythm of Redemption, is a Young Adult/Paranormal fantasy with religious themes.
By Katherine Whitmore
Like a lot of people, I’m a sucker for a good remake. A great revamping of an old fairy tale idea, the ability to take something special, magical and close to our hearts and find a way to make it brand new again. Jason G. Anderson’s Gears of Wonderland does just this. Anderson’s remodeled Wonderland is one of the most original ones I’ve ever read.
The story follows the tale of your everyday man, James Riggs. It starts with a very brief glimpse into James’s blah rundown existence, you know, crappy job where he’s not appreciated and a lame, bossy fiancé that kicks him out, then quickly turns into an action mystery when his best friend is murdered in front of him and he flees the scene only to be caught by a man in a white suit who throws him down a hole.
From the first second James is thrown down the rabbit hole it’s go time. James, along with the reader barely has time to get his bearings before we meet up with Kara, the mad hatters daughter and we’re off on our adventure. Learning about the young mad King of Hearts and running for our lives with shifty pirates, you can’t turn the page fast enough. I’m a gal that likes a story that moves and flows with ease, like this one. Anderson gives you just enough of the surroundings to feel out where you are and just enough back story to get you to your next destination on the journey. Which is great, because then it feels like you’re really right there with James. You only know what he knows. In such a new and large Wonderland world it could have been easy to lose the reader. But keeping us right with James, even in his limitations of knowledge, you don’t get sidetracked or too confused.
The other wonderful thing about James that is so refreshing is that he stays an everyday man. He doesn’t suddenly understand everything or knows how to sword fight. He uses what he brought with him. His mind and heart. As he cares more about the people he encounters the more he comes up with ways to help where he can. Another thing that really sells a story for me is the protagonist. If I don’t like or believe in the person going on this journey why would I want to go on it with them. James seems so very real that it’s easy to relate and root for him.
The other stand out character in this tale, to me, has to be the King of Hearts, Lahire. Personally, I’m also a sucker for a great villain. One that is not simply evil, but more rounded, more real. Lahire, who’s view we get to see every once in a while, has a lot going on under the surface. Which makes him not only intriguing but even more creepy.
After James and Lahire, the other part that makes Gears of Wonderland so great is the totally original mechanically filled new landscape of Wonderland. Instead of being filled with magic and chaos, the new King of Hearts has made Wonderland a place of smoke machines and strict order. Instead of cards and furry animals, the supporting casts are people. Mysterious, funny, strong people with much depth and untold stories all their own. If Anderson does decide to continue writing in this new Wonderland, I would happily fall back down the rabbit hole.
Katherine Whitmore can be reached by email or through comments on this post.