ArchEnemy - Frank Beddor I am of two minds as I write this review:

My first mind admits to enjoying the subgenre of novels that rewrite classic stories - Gardner's Jason and Medeia or Updike's Gertrude and Claudius, that tell a tale from a different POV - Moore's Fool is one I read recently, or that explain what really happened on that "dark and stormy night" - Farmer's The Other Log of Phileas Fogg. My junior/senior high school English teacher had us rewrite a classic from another character's POV (I chose Dracula - told from the Count's point of view, and he won). And I've always had an idea for writing a story set in Middle Earth told from an orc's point of view - whose attitude to Sauron and his wars is bested summed up in that song from the otherwise forgettable animated version of the trilogy, "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" (i.e., We don't want to go to war today / But the master of the lash says, Nay, nay, nay!)

All this is a somewhat roundabout way of saying that the idea of rewriting Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass was immediately intriguing and that Beddor does a credible job in this book and the two preceding - The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd.

The Alice Liddell of Carroll's books is actually based on Alyss Heart, rightful Queen of Wonderland, whose parents have been brutally murdered by her aunt, Redd, and who escapes into our world with the aide of Hatter Madigan, a member of the elite group of warriors known as the Millinery (whose hatwear puts Oddjob's to shame - FYI: Bond reference). In Alyss's world, "imagination," the power to think of something and then bring it into being, is wielded to create all sorts of objects and is the source of inventiveness in our own world. Alyss and Redd are the two most powerful practitioners of "imagination," which undergirds both their claims to rule.

The story is fast paced, well told and the characters likeable, in particular Hatter Madigan and his daughter, Homburg Molly. And Redd Heart's over-the-top sociopathy is fun to witness (if this is ever made into a movie, the actor playing Redd should have a field day chewing the scenery all to pieces).

My second mind wonders what the point, in this case, was? I suppose to justify a rewriting/reinterpretation of a classic, one should have a purpose in mind. A need to explore some aspect of the work that the author neglected but that is worthy of discussion. For whatever else you may think of Wicked, certainly one of its themes was the perennial one asking how a person can become such a monster as the Wicked Witch.

Here I don't think Beddor's efforts really do much more than reveal a reasonably clever twist on the original. The "magic" of Carroll's books is entirely lost, IMO, and what's left is another pleasant diversion that may reveal more about what modern readers expect in a fantasy than anything else - and it doesn't reflect well on us (another opinion).

Recommended, with caveats. Don't expect anything that will blow you away but you may be entertained for a while.