Review--The Wonderland Trials
Title: The Wonderland Trials
Series: The Curious Realities (Book 1)
Author: Sara Ella
Genre: YA Fantasy, Christian Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
Overview: I don’t like Alice in Wonderland. The original Lewis Carroll story is odd, confusing, and almost entirely pointless—which is rather its point. Why it ever became so popular is beyond me. And yet, for all its oddities and irritations, I want to like it. Though it drives me crazy, I’m still drawn to Wonderland and its eccentric inhabitants. The world where nothing is impossible tugs at me. And Sara Ella’s reimagining of that world captures that whimsical essence and weaves a tale that makes me think Alice might not be such a bad story, after all.
Characters: Alice is a confused, scared heroine with some serious trust issues. While she wasn’t entirely relatable, she certainly comes across as realistic. She has a lot of room to grow, and her trust issues can be most aggravating, but it’s fun to see the story unfold through her eyes.
To no one’s surprise, Chess is my favorite character. He’s your classic charmer with the bright smile and the sharp wit. How could I help but like him? There’s lots of depth to his character, though, and I’m curious to see more of him in the next book.
The other supporting characters are well-written, all with secrets and backstories of their own. I’m especially fond of Madi; a short story about her and her brothers would be quite fun.
Content: There’s a small romance with a short, sweet, mostly undetailed kiss.
The Trials are dangerous, with characters being injured in a variety of unusual ways.
Writing: Ella’s writing style is unique, working well with the story to craft an adventure that flows seamlessly from one moment to the next. And yet, despite the elegance of the prose, I was often confused. Character motivations didn’t always make sense to me, and some conclusions are drawn seemingly out of the air with little context as to how the characters reached said conclusion. But given that this is set in Wonderland, the world where six impossible things regularly occur before breakfast, perhaps that’s part of the point.
Summary: Given that I really don’t like the original tale, reading this book was a bit of a gamble. But I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s a wacky, somewhat confusing story that will nevertheless pull you into its wondrous depths and leave you anxiously awaiting the sequel. I would recommend it to fantasy/dystopian fans aged 14+.