fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsA Wonderlandiful World by Shannon Hale

In A Wonderlandiful World, Shannon Hale’s story about the teenage children of famous fairytale characters shifts focus from the conflict between the Royals and the Rebels about their “happily ever after” destiny to the problems caused by one of the students’ previous misadventures. They had accidentally let the Jabberwock (from Wonderland) loose into their world. The Jabberwock is not happy about not being in Wonderland anymore, so he’s making life miserable for the students and faculty of Ever After High by making all the magic go wrong. Some of the students are turning into objects. The breakfast porridge is demanding hugs. Even the narrator goes all squonky and Maddie has to take over for her.

Three characters set out to fix the trouble and restore order (if you can call it order): Lizzie Heart (daughter of Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts) who is armed with a butter knife and trying her best to be the tyrant that her mother expects her to be by occasionally uttering an uninspired “off with her head!”, Cedar (Pinocchio’s daughter) who wants to be a “real girl” and has the curse of having to always speak the truth, and our old friend Maddie Hatter (daughter of the Mad Hatter) who is just as whimsical as ever. Some of our other favorite characters also make appearances such as Humpty Dumpty, the rapping hacking egg-head.

It’s all just as cute and clever as it has been from the beginning, but as much as I admire Shannon Hale’s cleverness, and Matel’s good sense in commissioning such an excellent author to write their tie-in novels, I have to admit that the conceit is starting to lose its charm for me. Probably because I’m not the target audience. It’s just a little too silly for me. The puns are especially bad, though I think they’ve been toned down a bit in this story, probably because Hale realized their potential to grate on the nerves. The way that Maddie interacts with the narrator, trying to get her to give Maddie plot spoilers, is still amusing. My favorite part of A Wonderlandiful World was how Maddie had to take over the narration and, in the process, learns a lot about storytelling.

A Wonderlandiful World feels like a side story because it doesn’t advance the overall “happily ever after” Rebel vs Royal plot. I’m not sure if there will be more books in the EVER AFTER HIGH series, but based on the popularity of these books with preteen girls, and their connection to Matel’s merchandise, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

The audio versions of EVER AFTER HIGH are terrific. Hachette Audio produces these and they’re narrated by Kathleen McInerney. She highlights each of the characters’ individual personalities and really makes the story come to life. I highly recommend these if you want to read EVER AFTER HIGH, and they would be a great gift for girls of any age. I’m going to pass them on to my daughters. They are the target audience and I’m sure they’re going to love EVER AFTER HIGH.

Ever After High — (2013-2014) Publisher: At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens…whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life. As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s destiny is to follow in her mother’s wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven’s style. She’s starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future. What if Raven doesn’t sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.

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Find the Ever After High short stories here (most are free on Kindle).


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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