Monday, May 16, 2011

Alice in Zombieland by Nickolas Cook and Lewis Carroll

Nickolas Cook's novel Alice in Zombieland is a dark, charmingly twisted retelling of Lewis Carroll's original Alice in Wonderland. When Alice takes a stroll through an old graveyard, she encounters the mysterious Black Rat and follows him down an open grave. Hitting her head on the leaning tombstone, she falls and falls, seeing rotting bones and skulls and other frightening symbols of death before she reaches the bottom. That's when the nightmare truly begins.

While playing the well-known game of the "Drink Me" potion versus the "Eat Me" cake, Alice hits her head again, which causes her to bleed profusely and create a pool of blood. Poor Alice is then troubled by curious, terrifying changes in herself. She's cold, her skin is pale blue and rotting, and her teeth and hair are falling out. On top of that, she's desperately craving a taste of the various zombies, monsters, and other characters she meets during her journey through Zombieland.

Many of Carroll's well-known characters make an appearance in Cook's retelling, such as the Undead Cheshire Cat, the Zombie Mad Hatter, and the Dead Hare; but despite these characters' ghoulish charm, it is the Dead Red Queen who is the real terror of the story. Why does she insist on putting jeweled collars on all the zombies? What is the purpose of that strange box? Will Alice be able to keep her head during a game of zombie croquet? But the most troubling question of all is Alice herself. With these horrifying changes to her body and mind, will Alice ever be able to leave Zombieland, or is she its newest permanent resident?

Published by Sourcebooks in March 2011, Alice in Zombieland is filled with intriguing, yet disturbing characters and locations. Cook's Alice is both creepy and sympathetic, and the strange people and creatures she meets will make the reader both laugh and shudder. Zombieland's spine-chilling settings will make the reader feel as if they stumbled into a charming nightmare that they will never want to leave.

Cook is a master of retelling a classic tale with a delightfully dark twist, and he kept me guessing at what would happen next to little Alice and her newfound "friends." I believe this book is destined for great things, and I can't wait to read more of Nickolas Cook's fascinating tales.

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