Saturday, June 8, 2013

Follow the White Rabbit (Beautiful Madness #1) by Kellie Sheridan

When Alice was last in Wonderland, 150 years ago, she ushered forth an era of change.  Wonderland has never been the same  and now that a new Alice is about to make her appearance, the residents of Wonderland  are trying to find a way to control what is going to happen for their own benefit. All of the prophecies regarding her return which were once believed to be nonsense and a waste of time, are turning out to be far more accurate than once thought.

Coming in at 100 pages, Follow the White Rabbit is a novella and the introduction to the Beautiful Madness series.  I am not a fan of a writer using a novella to start a series.  It makes me feel like a beta reader, testing whether or not the idea is viable enough for a book. Due to it's format, Follow the White Rabbit falls prey to the predictable problem of nothing and I do mean nothing at all happening. Essentially, Sheridan used this first hundred pages for world building.  Considering that most people are quite familiar with Wonderland, thanks to Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel all we learned was who the White Rabbit is and who the Cheshire Cat is.  I am not convinced this much world building was necessary in a story which is familiar to the masses.

In essence, what Sheridan offered was a glimpse at a world which most readers are already well familiar with.  It's clear that there are going to be political machinations but beyond that, I have no real sense of what the ensuing plot will be.  I cannot even tell you for sure who the protagonist is because little time was spent with Alice and there were several characters who received equal treatment.

Sheridan has set up Wonderland as a matriarchy, with the world being divided in two and run by a white queen and a red queen.  The white queen is new to her position and full of ambition.  In the 100 pages of Follow the White Rabbit, she moved from being unsure of her self to confidant.  The problem is that we were given no real reason for this rapid growth.  We learned that the red queen is calculating but really, what else would you expect from the red queen?  Other than being a matriarchy, thus far, most of the characters were women and all had different strengths.  

If there should be a follow up book to Follow the White Rabbit, I would absolutely read it because while this is essentially a revamp of a story which most are familiar with, Sheridan's writing is engaging and very descriptive.  It was easy to get lost in the world building and Follow the White Rabbit left me wanting more because it felt like the story was just about to start in earnest when it ended.  

Follow the White Rabbit had no GLBT characters, and all White characters.  There was no exploration of any ism but at the same time, it was only 100 pages long.  The length alone does not preclude such examinations but at this point, it feels early to judge where this story is going and how inclusive it's going to be.  There is a lot of potential in this fantasy series to go fantastic places, so at this point, all I can do as a reader, is hope that this is the direction that Sheridan plans to head in.

Follow the White Rabbit is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon, but be forewarned that because it is a novella, the ending will leave you unsatisfied.

Editors Note: A copy of this novella was received from Netgalley