A retelling of “Alice in Wonderland” set in a post-apocalyptic world infested with zombies sounds like a great way to spend an evening, right? That is what I was thinking when I picked up “Alice Through Blood-Stained Glass” by Dan Adams.
It was just another boring day for Alice. She was at the park watching her younger sister and wishing she was anywhere but there. She was 18 and should be out having a good time but was instead her sister’s perpetual keeper. She craved excitement but could have never imagined what was going to happen when she first say the man in the waistcoat running toward her. The world was being overrun by zombies and the man was pleading with her to follow him. She was reluctant until she saw the mob of newly-risen dead heading her way. It was off to the races for Alice and her sister as the dead strove to close in for the kill.
Alice soon finds herself alone and in a constant struggle to survive not only the zombies but other humans as well. As she travels through the ravaged landscape of the city, she encounters some strange people, such as Hatter and Hare, who become companions if not exactly friends. When Alice learns of a queen who has set herself up as the ruler of a gated fortress, knows as The Sanctuary, Alice knows that she must go there. Getting an audience with the queen is a whole different story than getting there in one piece, however, and surviving a meeting with the queen could be the greatest challenge that Alice has ever faced.
As a retelling of the classic story, “Alice Through Blood-Stained Glass” does not do a good job at all of capturing the “Alice in Wonderland” story. There are very few similarities between the two tales with the exception of the use of several of the character’s names. The attempted comparisons between the two stories seems like nothing more than a gimmick and it almost seems like the author realizes this when he has the main character change from being called Alice to Ali. It almost seemed like Adams had this idea of creating a parallel story and realized that it just was not going to work and abandoned it partway through the story. Any comparisons between the two stories are shallow at best and are best left unnoticed.
As for the actual story itself, I found it to be a relatively mundane romp through a zombie landscape that held very few variances from the normal themes of a zombie story. There was nothing new and original here and there was, in fact, very little that I found especially exciting. There were scenes that were done well but the story as a whole just never seemed to come together. I would like to read a story by Adams that springs solely from his imagination rather than trying to fit it into the framework of another story as I think that the attempts to connect this story with “Alice in Wonderland” not only largely failed but also hurt the story by preventing it from finding its own direction. I cannot imagine anyone except the biggest zombie fans enjoying this book and I would have a difficult time recommending it to someone. I struggled a little with choosing between giving it two or three stars and ultimately chose to go with two. While there are some good passages in the book, it just never comes together as a compelling whole.
I would like to thank HarperCollins and NetGalley for this review copy. “Alice Through Blood-Stained Glass” is available now.