Under the rule of the Red Queen, Wonderland is under constant threat. In fear for her throne, children are taken into the queen’s army and only the strongest survive.
Alice is nothing but a pirate, but with the help of Hatter, they hatch a plan to sneak into the Red Queen’s palace to free Hatter’s sister. After all, Alice has always wanted to fly an airship.
Dr. Frank N. Stein has created an army of automatons to serve their queen. Of particular note: a prototype soldier. Part man. Part machine. The best of both worlds.
Doc’s monster is a threat to everything they know, but Alice sees something in the man that begs she look beyond what he’s done and search out the heart of the beast for the better of the realm.
He’s their only hope of survival, but how can a monster learn to love when all he’s known is hate?
“I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,”- Alice in Alice in Wonderland
Wow, was I in awe of Tabitha Bouldin’s steampunk retelling of Alice in Wonderland by the time I finished! I started the novel with trepidation. I didn’t remember the original making a lot of sense, and I wondered what I was in for with Bouldin’s Madness in Wonderland. Madness is a gem!!
Why do I love this book? For the first time in my life, the pieces of Alice in Wonderland fit together like a puzzle. Bouldin clearly delineates narrator/subject by rotating chapters. Alpha, Alice, and Hatter are all featured. Bouldin allows characters to retain much of the personality that Carroll gave them, but adds depth and emotion to each. It was easy to follow the great action, which is plentiful and compelling. Apropos quotes from the original Alice in Wonderland are worked in so beautifully to the new story. There are a few nods to Star Wars, the sci-fi scenery is easy to imagine, and faith plays a major, natural role. God is referred to as the Master. Each character must decide what he will do once confronted with knowledge of the Master.
Themes include the existence of a Master who created their world and loves individuals. Judgment, hope, and forgiveness follow close behind.
Those who love the original Alice in Wonderland, fairytale retellings, sci-fi, or Kara Swanson’s author voice will love this novel. I am excited that it is the first in its series!
I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“Family means different things to different people.
“Everyone needs a name. Names have power. They tell us who we are, where we’ve come from. -Alice
“If the Maker can forgive one like me, He can forgive anyone.” -Cook
“Soldiers don’t have the lux’ry of a clean soul. Took a long time for me to accept my past and let Someone help with the pain.”Cook (Chess)
“You believe you don’t deserve forgiveness, so you condemn others to the same fate.”
Magnificent!! Reminds me of Kara Swanson’s Dust and Shadow!!
About the Author
Tabitha Bouldin has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has been writing since 2015. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, you’ll find her curled up with a book. Tabitha’s genre of choice is Contemporary Christian Romance which she describes as: Adventure with heart.
Amelia Balfour has one dream. . .to tour Egypt as a travel writer. But when her wish is finally within reach, her father dies, and her malformed brother Colin depends upon her to arrange for a revolutionary surgery. Amelia returns home, hoping he’ll recover before the ship sails for Cairo. Former Navy surgeon Graham Lambert is sick—of travelling, loneliness, and especially the injustice of the world. Leaving behind the military, he partners with a renowned surgeon, the man who promises new life to Amelia’s brother. But just as the operation begins, Graham suspects the surgeon is a fraud. After a botched procedure, Colin goes mad and escapes, terrorizing their neighbor, author Mary Godwin—planting the seed for her greatest creation, Frankenstein. Can Amelia and Graham stop Colin before he destroys everyone in his path and find the tender soul still trapped inside…or will they be too late?
“I have learned never to be quick to judge, for not all are as they appear at first meeting.”
Nobody writes Regency romance quite as eloquently as Michelle Griep. And now Michelle Griep adds Gothic to her expertly crafted subgenres as well. We start Lost in Darkness, #1 Of Monsters and Men, in 1815 London. There we discover Amelia Balfour, a travel journalist, hoping to leave for her dream trip to Egypt. Instead, she unexpectedly finds herself caring for her brother, Colin, whose physical deformities cause him to be a recluse from society. Few make the effort to see past the outer man to discover the gentle soul inside. Will the two doctors who claim they can help Colin, be able to do such an incredible surgery as to make Colin’s form and visage passable to society? Or will there be unexpected problems on this quest for healing?
Griep is an Anglophile with a great love for the historical literature of the period. Rather than retell Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Griep imagines a scenario that would inspire Shelley’s masterpiece. And what an intriguing and suspenseful novel Griep pens! I love all the philosophical questions Griep raises while keeping the reader enthralled with the romantic, gothic atmosphere. How far can a doctor experiment on humans before he has crossed an ethical line? When has one stopped trying to help, and started trying to gain power and prestige at a deep cost to others? “If one could mend the mind, one could bend the mind…” At what cost does one desire success? Many characters must wrestle with this issue.
I loved seeing Graham Lambert progressively develop a spine. Will he actually continue to exert the new muscle he has developed, or shrink back when push comes to shove?
I enjoyed the inclusion of a certain waif. I am a sucker for children in stories, and this one doesn’t fit the mold waifs are usually relegated to.
One more note: I love when slightly dark or suspenseful books have some comic relief. Griep includes this with notes of humor from the maid, off-setting the seriousness and tragedy being presented. Bravo!!
Hard to pick just a few Notable Quotables!
“If houses had souls, this one was clearly bound for Hades.”
“Do not live your lives looking over your shoulder, wondering what others think of your behaviour. It is God you will answer to one day, not society.”
“…the most holy band of society is friendship.”
“There was no cure for fear or despair, leastwise not in his bag of tools.”
“Trust must ultimately rest on God, not in folklore, which is flimsy at best and malignant at worst.”
“Yet I find it is not justice so much as mercy that makes all things right.”
“Family, no matter the size of it, is precious. Never leave a loved one behind.”
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnificent!! An Awesome Gothic Regency, Full of Truth Amid the Shadows
About the Author
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan.
More from Michelle
Are You a Monster Too?
“Look at that! The fattest girl in the class is the first one to get in line for a cupcake.”
Those words, spoken to me in junior high by a clueless boy, are forever seared into my memory. Just because I wasn’t a willowy stick-figure who didn’t match up to magazine covers, I was singled out. Made to feel ashamed. Made to feel like a monster.
Have you ever felt that way?
Chances are you have. We are all poked and prodded at some point in our lives…which brings up a few questions. How do you deal with the sometimes ugly perceptions with which others view you? How do you stop trying to prove your worth to others, when in their eyes you are somehow worthless? Why does God allow such hurtful things to happen anyway?
These are the questions I attempt to tackle in my new release, Lost in Darkness. And surprisingly enough, those are the very same issues contemplated in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Now hold on. Don’t go rolling your eyeballs quite yet—which is the usual response whenever Frankenstein is mentioned.
Most people’s conception of this great piece of literature has been forever ruined by Hollywood’s green creature. You know the one, the giant with bolts sticking out of his neck and a stiff-legged walk. So not true. The essence of Shelley’s “horror” story is instead about a creature who struggles with heartfelt needs that can only be met by his creator. In this story, Shelley respectfully handles the subject of what we owe our creator and what our creator’s responsibility is toward us as the created…the very same questions we all struggle with.
As does Colin Balfour, a man with a heart of gold and a face that causes children to scream. In Lost in Darkness, he hopes to undergo a life-changing surgery that will end his self-imposed isolation. But what really happens is a life change for his sister Amelia and the surgeon who tries to prevent it all from happening. For indeed, even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.