Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase
Published by: Harmony Inc Press
on August 20th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQIA, Romance, Fairytale Retelling,
I received a free ebook copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A retelling of Alice in Wonderland with Alice’s brother in a relationship with the Mad Hatter? Sign me up. Plus I adore both the cover and the clever title of this book, so those were some good draws too.
Henry, Alice’s younger brother, never believed his sister’s tales of Wonderland and has deemed her crazy. Then he finds himself in this strange Wonderland, being escorted to the Red Queen by someone called Hatter. The two don’t like each other at all. Until they do.
Let me start by saying that this book isn’t heavy with action. It’s not exactly slow per se, but I didn’t feel like that much was happening. I somehow felt that it pretended a lot was happening but in reality there was just a lot of walking back and forth and easily avoiding dangerous obstacles. If you prefer books to have more action and things constantly happening, then maybe this book won’t be for you. If you don’t mind a slower pace and if you like “going on an adventure” books and cute M/M romances then go for it.
The book alternates between two POVs, Henry’s and the Hatter’s. We get to see Henry being confused with and frustrated by the workings of Wonderland, and we get to see Hatter’s nonchalant reaction to it all.
I really liked Hatter. He’s funny and charming, and I enjoyed the chapters from his perspective. I found myself chuckling a lot through his chapters. At one point in the second half of the book I wish one chapter (or was it more than one? I can’t remember if these particular scenes took place during more chapters) was Hatter’s point of view instead of Henry’s. It was still funny, but the other way around would have been much funnier. It would have been very interesting to see our own mundane world through the eyes of someone used to a world with magic. “Magic” is so subjective, anything you’re not used to can seem magical, and we see that in Mad About the Hatter.
“Your world is amazing, Henry! First popped corn and moving pictures of giants, then this Pete’s Ah. It’s wonderful!”
What I said above about magic being everywhere, in “the eye of the beholder” so to speak, is one of the themes I found in this story. It’s a nice sort of moral and I didn’t feel like it was spoon fed to me like many of the other morals in this book. I got a bit annoyed by the way some things were spelled out to me as if I wouldn’t get it otherwise. Yes the Red Queen is only human, no your size alone doesn’t make you superior, we don’t need an entire paragraph (or paragraphs!) where this is spelled out directly. There are other ways to include morals like these without underestimating the reader’s intelligence. These were cases of telling instead of showing. If it was a children’s book it might be different, but this is teen and young adult and neither teen nor young adult need to be talked to like children.
There was a lot of unnecessary repetition. Like the above it was like the author didn’t think we’d get it unless she reminded us of something from just a couple pages or chapters back. For example, Hatter thinks about his curse several times and the reasons why he doesn’t like it. The impact would have been better if that information had been spared until he tells Henry about it later.
This book also set off my insta-love alarm. Granted, it is a fairytale, but still. If that is something that grinds your gears to the point where it completely turns you off then you might want to skip this. It’s still cute but it develops way too fast for me. How long has it been, a few days? I doubt you love him after a few days of just walking around. Despite this the book wasn’t romance heavy, which only made the insta-love stand out even more, in a not-so-good way. I just didn’t buy it.
I thought this book was charming and funny, but it didn’t do much for me outside of that. I think it might be a better fit for someone a bit younger than me. I rate books mostly based on how much I enjoyed reading them, so because of that I’m giving it 2.5/5. Not terrible, I didn’t hate it, but nothing special either.