Dannika isn't like all of the other fairy godmothers because she's a fairy godmother to the badboys. Dannika has no patience for princesses who are awaiting their Prince Charmings and think that all they need to do is "bat lashes, wiggle bottom, ad mauseam". You'll never catch Dannika saying," bippity-boppity-boo", or turning mice into footmen. No, Dannika is going to take care of all the bad boys who have just been misunderstood. Dannika takes her duties seriously but an urgency is added to her mission when she learns that if she doesn't find true love for her terrible five that a bad fate awaits them within the year. Taking stock of the situation, Dannika decides that first up to bat will be none other than the Madhatter. Unfortunately, because Dannika has brought him many women named Alice over the years, the Madhatter isn't exactly open to love anymore, certain that there's no one out there for him.
This is another book in which the idea behind the story was excellent but the execution let it all down. I love the idea of Wonderland being created from the mind of the Madhatter. The idea that fairy godmother would turn her back on princesses who she deems to be simpering twits in order to focus on fairy tale characters who have a bad reputation and are more in need of a happy ending is fun. In fact, I'd argue that Hall's take on Dannika is absolutely brilliant.
I went into Her Mad Hatter knowing full and well that it's a paranormal romance book but I decided to give it a chance based on the concept. I thought that most certainly there would be romance but that there would be a lot more meat to the story than Hall provided. If you're going to twist a fairy tale world, other than having elements of the fairy tale like the white rabbit, tea with the Madhatter, or any upside down house, something new and substantive should be added to the narrative to make it worth the time for the reader. And no, having the Hatter fall in love with Alice is not enough.
Perhaps what's most irritating about Her Mad Hatter, is the fact that it's clearly fanfic. It's not even really Alice in Wonderland fanfic but Tim Burton, Alice in Wonderland fanfic. It's impossible to doubt for a a moment that Hall has a thing for Johnny Depp and I know this because Depp is mentioned several times and it's clearly his version of the Hatter that Hall has a thing for.
Now perhaps if it were Chocolat Johnny Depp, I cold get behind Hall's obsession.
I'm old enough to remember Depp on 21 Jump Street and having his picture on the inside of my locker but that doesn't mean that all of these years later I want to Depp fanfic masquerading as a reboot of Alice in Wonderland. Dear Hall, the world didn't need to know that you want to fuck Johnny Depp or that you imagine his cum tastes like cream, which even having not tasted it, I know it does not. Just No.
So intent was Hall to have the Hatter (read: Johnny Depp) fucking Alice that there were molten cores and throbbing cocks everywhere. Alice and the Madhatter only needed to glance at each other to become aroused. Aroused I say. Yes, this is part and parcel for a paranormal romance novel but it seemed like such a let down after establishing an interesting plot.
I was originally excited by the fact that Hall chose to make Alice Asian. People of colour have largely been erased from fairy tales. Instead of turning into a plus that Alice is Asian, I quickly found myself thinking that Hall should have stuck with a white woman. It's not okay to refer to an Asian woman as a "delicate China doll" repeatedly. It's racist as fuck. The term China Doll when used to describe a woman embodies the White male conception of Asian women as delicate, lotuslike, exotic, docile and obedient. It is further reified by the fact that Alice's grandmother, who was also sent to Wonderland to be with the MadHatter was the exact opposite (read: dragonlady). Naturally, it was Alice's grandmother who broke the MadHatters heart.
Alice and the Madhatter almost don't become a couple, even though she strives to show that she isn't a shrew like her grandmother because Alice dares to ask him to come back to her world with her, so that she can let her family know that she's safe. How dare Alice not be willing to drop her friends, family, business and life and run away to Wonderland to be with the Madhatter after knowing him for a total of three days. A good submissive Alice should be willing to throw everything away for the love of her man. It turns out that the Hatter cannot leave Wonderland because his true age would catch up to him but he doesn't bother to explain any of that to Alice, he simply stalks away to wallow in manpain.
Alice's job is to save the Madhatter. Love as a cure for mental illness is beyond problematic. It's only through experiencing love that the Madhatter can regulate his magic and control the degree to which it runs amok in Wonderland. The Hatter is amazed by the fact that Alice isn't afraid of him. It suggests that there's reason for people who are neurologically typical people to be afraid of those who aren't. The fact that he's had to go through so many women in order to find the perfect submissive to help deal with his mental illness suggests that those who have some kind of mental illness, are at their heart unlovable. No, Nope. Noppity No No. Alice could have been the companion to enjoy his wild life and even more inventive imagination but instead she's basically human prozac or lithium if you prefer. The very idea that people don't need treatment and just need love belies the seriousness of living with a mental illness.
I really wanted to like this book. I started out loving Dannika and her take on why these badboy fairy tale characters would need fairy godmothers. It all turned sour so quickly that I found myself overwhelmed with the complete awfulness of this story. We learned the Madhatter fell into Wonderland after his mother died, but we don't know why Wonderland decided to accept the Hatter as its ruler. In this version, the Hatter isn't a character, he is a caricature and made that much more awful for it. Then there's Hall's habit of constantly quoting Poe. Look, I think that the Raven is brilliant but quoting it does not make up for having no discernible plot beyond the Hatter is going even more mad and needs his true love to fix him.