So, for me, this is one of those books where the cover is the best thing about it. I didn’t actually have a cover – I got an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review – but I’ve seen pictures from people who received physical copies and it does look gorgeous.
I would usually only give something a one or two star rating is it’s problematic or I have a personal vendetta against it because it reminds me of exams, but I’m giving this one a low rating because it’s just so boring. I feel like it’s marketed as a fantasy, but I was two-thirds into the book when I finally reached the fantasy aspect, and at this point I had stopped caring about the story entirely. This book feels more like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ rewritten as a YA mystery, and mystery is a genre that I’m not a huge fan of reading, so that could be why the story didn’t work for me.
Some points (good and bad):
- The first half is extremely slow and too long
- The storyline relies heavily on fairytale logic
- So many thinks conveniently happen
- I’m still very confused by the ending
- Alice is rude and selfish and unlikable, but there’s no depth to make the traits interesting
- I don’t think she’s supposed to be unlikable
- She disregards how Finch was uncomfortable around the cops (he’s biracial and he’s explaining about racial profiling) and just says that he’s rich and privileged
- Ellery/Finch is an extreme hipster who also has no depth, but is slightly less unlikable
- The other named characters aren’t too memorable (as I can’t remember their names)
- It kind of romanticises/glorifies kidnapping??
- Alice was kidnapped when she was six and has so many fond memories of it that it concerns me
- It references Alice’s grandmother’s backstory a lot and I found that more interesting than the actual story
- It includes stories from the grandmother’s book that I actually loved
In summary, this was not the book for me or my tastes. But, just because I disliked this book, it doesn’t mean that you won’t pick it up and be engrossed and love it and devour it in a day.