(re)visions: Alice | Various

(re)Visions: Alice is a collection of retellings of the childrens classic.

(re)Visions: Alice is the first in a planned series in the (re)Visions line, which is devoted to exploring the lasting legacy of classic works of speculative fiction on our genres and on our lives. In each book in the series, four authors will tackle a classic work of imaginative fiction, and give it their own spin; along with each of these novellas will also be the original work. In this first entry, Lewis Carroll’s timeless classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is presented, along with four modern pieces based on his work.

Here’s a summary of each of the novellas in Alice:

What Aelister Found Here
By Kaye Chazan

It is 1888, and Aelister has never felt at home, not even in his own skin. Now that he’s been expelled from school, he sees no reason to stick around his house in Warwickshire, so he runs away to another world altogether: London. The city is a maze of heat and rain, where a murderer stalks the streets of Whitechapel and a Crown Prince flouts his mother’s laws, and Aelister soon finds himself dealt into a series of deadly games—ones that put his life, and far more, on the line. And while London may not be the wonderland Aelister expected to find, he is far from the only person in the city looking for that very place.

House of Cards
By Amanda Ching

There’s Alice, who fell down a rabbit hole and had an adventure. Then there’s the Queen of Hearts, who loses her temper quite frequently. But before that, there was Mary Ann, a servant pressed past patience, past duty. As all three hurtle toward an inevitable meeting, a creature has broken from its coffin and is even now tunneling to meet them. When the deck is stacked like this, even the strongest foundation could crumble.

Knave
By Hilary Thomas

In the city they call Wonderland, the Queen calls the shots. If she doesn’t like the way you’re playing the game, she’ll give you the axe. Permanently. Jack Knave is an investigator, a man of many talents, an occasional blade for The Crown; and he’s the best at what he does. He knows every face in the city, every move they make, every connection.

Except one.

When a mysterious woman shows up in town, Jack is sure she’s not just here for the tourism. But the more he digs, the less he knows. Finding the answers means getting close to her, but she’s not the only one with secrets. Somebody’s been stealing from the Queen, and it looks like Jack’s taking the fall. Alice could seal his fate with a word—or not. With no options left, and the odds stacked against him, Jack must make a desperate gamble to survive. Whether his luck holds out or he’s left out to dry, one thing’s for certain: he can’t afford to lose his head.

The World in a Thimble
By C.A. Young

Toby Fitzsimmons hates the creepy sculpture of Alice on display in his gallery, but when it drops him into Wonderland for real, he’s not prepared for what he finds. From real living furniture to scoutmasters and cowboys to coyotes who really do go everywhere, Toby finds himself in a Wonderland that’s more deadly, and much more American, than the one he remembers reading about as a boy. At the heart of it all is the Catmistress, who rules over the city’s dark alleys and knows the secret of the Cheshire trick. In this strange new world, Toby will need all the help he can get to find his way home. Before that, though, he’ll have to find a way to keep from losing himself. Wonderland, it seems, changes everything it touches. And then there’s the thing in the sewers…

I really, really enjoyed this. Collections can be hard to review, but this was great.

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London Falling | Paul Cornell

London Falling by Paul Cornell is an interesting urban fantasy set in a recession-hot London.

Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster’s mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.

I really enjoyed this once I got past the first 100 pages.

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Last Days | Adam Neville

Last days by Adam Neville is a horror story centred around the activities of a cult.

Indie filmmaker Kyle Freeman is hired to create a documentary about The Temple of the Last Days—a notorious cult that met its chilling end in an Arizona desert back in 1975. As he travels to the cult’s birthplaces in London and France, and its infamous demise in the United States, a series of uncanny events plague all his shoots: out-of-body experiences, visits in the night, ghastly artifacts appearing in their rooms each evening, and the deaths of their interviewees.

What exactly it is the cult managed to awaken – and what is its interest in Kyle Freeman?

My review copy was an eARC provided for free by St Martins Press through NetGalley

Sorry for the dark horror two in one, readers! I tend to read in phases (even with review copies from publishers) so I review in phases too. But I’ll try to make the next review something different.

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The Possessions of Doctor Forrest | Richard T. Kelly

The Possessions of Doctor Forrest by Richard T. Kelly is a weird book, an attempt to recreate the Gothic Novel but with a more intelligent, questioning nature.

Three respected Scottish doctors – psychiatrist Steve Hartford, paediatric surgeon Grey Lochran and cosmetic surgeon Robert Forrest – have been close friends since their Edinburgh boyhoods, and now live handsomely in suburban London. But for each, midlife has brought certain discontents, especially for Forrest, a reformed womaniser who broods over his fading looks and the departure of his beautiful younger girlfriend.

When Dr Forrest goes missing one summer evening and fails to return, Lochran and Hartford are alarmed by the thought of what might have befallen their friend. The police can find no evidence of foul play, but the two doctors resolve to conduct their own investigation.

Soon, however, Lochran and Hartford find themselves bedevilled by bizarre, unnerving events, and the attentions of menacing strangers. Robert Forrest, they come to realise, has remained closer than they could ever have imagined…

I’m not entirely sure it works. Oh, plenty of ideas are presented and discussed within the text, but you are frequently hammered with them. And the dread, the melodrama, the creeping horror that should be present in a Gothic Novel simply, well, isn’t.

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The Pleasures of Men | Kate Williams

The Pleasures of Men is a tale of Victorian murders, hypocrisy and inhumanity.

Catherine Sorgeiul lives with her Uncle in a rambling house in London’s East End. She has few companions and little to occupy the days beyond her own colourful imagination. But then a murderer strikes, ripping open the chests of young girls and stuffing hair into their mouths to resemble a beak, leading the press to christen him The Man of Crows. And as Catherine hungrily devours the news, she finds she can channel the voices of the dead … and comes to believe she will eventually channel The Man of Crows himself.

But the murders continue to panic the city and Catherine gradually realizes she is snared in a deadly trap, where nothing is as it first appears … and lurking behind the lies Catherine has been told are secrets more deadly and devastating than anything her imagination can conjure.

This could have been so good. This should have been so good. But I am all disappointment.

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