Review of Return to Wonderland, by Tanya Lisle
Tanya Lisle’s Return to Wonderland catches up to Alice years after she first fell down the rabbit hole. She has since endured a barrage of doctors and learned to put her adventures in Wonderland behind her. She’s finally free to attend the prestigious Lucena Academy to get a fresh start—and make friends her own age.
Unfortunately, a purple-haired boy appears at the school, revealing himself to be the Cheshire Cat. He speaks in riddles about how Wonderland is a much different place than when Alice last visited and tempts her with a visit back.
Lisle managed to modernize the world in and around Wonderland in a way that doesn’t detract from the story. It feels like a legitimate expansion of the original and, though a children’s book, is not boring or cumbersome for the adult side of the reader equation. It’s a very quick and easy read. The quality of prose is engaging, and the book has great pacing overall.
Alice is an easy character to cheer on. Her moments of doubt and her bout of nerves when meeting new people are easily relatable during the target age-range for this book, and her strength makes her all the more endearing. The supporting cast, Adrianna and her brothers specifically, feel like parallels of characters in Wonderland—so they are at once new and familiar. The Cheshire Cat himself seems to represent the changes in Wonderland. As the story progresses, Cat’s actions mirror in the normal world the changes occurring in Wonderland.
There are, of course, familiar faces in Wonderland, as well. As Alice goes through Wonderland she begins to see the changes of which the Cheshire Cat hinted. Although she is more prepared for Wonderland this time around, the changes present fresh new problems for Alice to navigate.