After Alice by Gregory Maguire

24331115 (1)Published: October 27th 2015 By: William Morrow

Genres: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Format: Paperback ARC Source: Won My Rating: 3 Stars


When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice.


I was very much looking forward to reading this book when I first came across it some months ago. And while I love a retelling, or reimagining, this one doesn’t live up to everything that we are promised from the synopsis. I had such a hard time with this one, that I put it down at least 7 times while trying to get into the story. It’s not all bad, but the writing style made it kind of boring, in terms of what the actual story should be about. Still, the writing quality is the best thing about the book.

After Alice is a third person account of what happens after Alice falls down the rabbit hole. Instead of just having the narration set on Ada, Alice’s friend, Maguire delves deeper by including the happenings of Alice’s sister and Ada’s governess. That, to me, took away from the adventure of the story itself. This isn’t what I was expecting, and had I read some of Maguire’s other books, I’d have not bothered with this one. The writing is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think it fits this story. Surely there’s a better way to tell a story than using words that makes the reader pull out the dictionary every 3 minutes. I wanted more descriptive, and less expository.

There’s no interaction between our beloved Alice and Ada until the end. It’s like the author was writing several different stories here. I’m not sure that fans of the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will enjoy this book. Now, if you are into a more detailed narrative that is similar to historical fiction, this book is for you. That is why I give this book the benefit of the doubt. Even though this wasn’t an adventurous tale, I still appreciate the story for it’s writing.

Long story short: Alice is missing. Her friend Ada runs into her sister Lydia. Lydia doesn’t know where Alice has run off to. Ada is hiding from her bothersome governess and falls down the rabbit hole.

It’s not as adventurous as I would have liked, but I can’t deny the beautiful way it’s written. Not my favorite retelling, but others may enjoy this more than me. Somewhat recommended.


6 thoughts on “After Alice by Gregory Maguire

  1. I can’t believe I almost missed this review! I am not a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland story to be honest, but the retelling movies have been quite good. I have yet to read a good retelling book as well, so I am hoping to find a very good one otherwise I might give up on retellings of this story altogether. Which is why I am holding on this one until I find one I am sure I will like completely.


    • It takes place while Alice is in Wonderland. Ada, falls down the rabbit hole soon afterwards. Could have been a great thing to play with this, but the author took another approach.


  2. I’ve heard so many things about this one. Most reviews echo yours though. I still find it quite intriguing, but considering how intrigued I was about its description, it’s a bit disappointing to learn it’s not as adventurous as I’d like.


    • It reads like literary fiction. I was expecting a lot of Alice-like adventure, but it’s not even close. I do love a beautifully written book, so there’s a plus side.


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