Title: Curiouser and Curiouser
Series: Steampunk Fairy Tales
Author: Melanie Karsak
Narrator: Lesley Parkin
Format: Unabridged Audiobook ( 5 hours and 24 minutes)
Published: 13 Sept 2017 (Clockpunk Press)
ISBN: ASIN: B075GYVGKH
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Rating: 5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
To save the Hatter, Alice must work with the one man she despises so much that she might still love him.
Alice thought she’d turned over a new leaf. No more working for Jabberwocky. No more making deals with the ruthless Queen of Hearts. No more hanging around The Mushroom with tinkers, tarts, scoundrels, and thieves in London's criminal underbelly. But she’d been bonkers to dream.
Hatter’s reckless behavior leads Alice back to the one person she never wanted to see again, Caterpillar. Pulled into Caterpillar's mad schemes, Alice must steal a very big diamond from a very royal lady. The heist is no problem for this Bandersnatch. But protecting her heart from the man she once loved? Impossible.
Sometimes love is mad.
See how NY Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak reimagines Lewis Carroll's classic fairy tale, Alice in Wonderland, with a steampunk twist! Join us at The Mushroom in gaslamp Victorian London.
William chuckled. “Shall we take it all in?”
Barely able to breathe, I nodded.
“Now, there is my Alice,” he said softly. “Her curious eyes open wide.”
I smiled. “It’s a wonderland.”
As soon as I saw the cover for Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak, I knew I had to read it! Imaginative fractured fairy tales are one of my favorite genres and I have loved Alice in Wonderland tales since my childhood. I’d never previously picked up anything by this author – but, after inhaling this superb tale set in Victorian England, I want to read everything she’s written! This book is not for young children. It should be fine for older teens to adult. Just know that there are some horror scenes that could forever taint Alice for younger readers. That said, I absolutely loved this fantastically dark Alice with a strong steam punk flare!
This retelling features a slew of familiar, but twisted, characters that share many characteristics with the much-loved childhood version – but, in a totally new setting. There’s Alice, of course. In Curiouser and Curiouser, she and her sister are left orphaned at a young age. Alice quickly develops a knack for lifting valuables so the two sisters can survive. William, the Caterpillar, returns as Alice’s past love interest and her childhood partner in crime. Alice, now in her twenties, walked away from her life in the city’s seedy underworld and now works as an elderly man’s companion.
As the story opens, William desperately needs to complete a task for the Queen of Hearts, a shockingly evil queen of horror herein. He needs Alice’s unparalleled petty thief skills to successfully pull it off. To present his proposal to Alice, William has the rabbit lift the valuable watch of Alice’s employer which Alice dutifuly vows to retrieve. William uses Alice’s love for her fragile sister and her sister’s fiancé, The Hatter, to ensure that Alice will cooperate.
The story alternates between present day and flashbacks into Alice’s past filling in details about her and William’s history. Alice is, hands down, the consummate heroine. She’s smart, skilled and caring. While I didn’t care for Williams’ tactics at first, it wasn’t long before I was pulling for the two. The result is a vivid masterpiece of rich storytelling that I did not want to end!
Following please find a couple of teaser quotes from Curiouser and Curiouser:
“If you say it again, I’ll stab you.” I said.
“All I said was that you look lovely. I hardly think that’s a stabbing offense.”
“Shows what you know,” I replied.
I heard feet rushing quickly down the cobblestone toward us. The sound of it set my nerves on edge, and my old instincts kicked in. The runner didn’t slow as the footsteps approached. I moved to grab the knife hidden out of sight under my apron, but my hands were all tied up with Lord Dodgson. If I let go, he would fall.
“Watch yourself, boy. What? Hey,” the footman called.
A boy with a mop of striking white hair, wearing an expensive but oversized waistcoat, slipped between us and was gone again in a flash.
“My pocket watch! My grandfather’s pocket watch,” Lord Dodgson cried, clutching his vest where he always kept his pocket watch. “Stop that boy. He stole my pocket watch. Alice!”
I glanced up the street to see the boy dangle the pocket watch teasingly before us.
“Rabbit,” I hissed.
“Your Grace…I need to—”
“Go, Alice. Go.”
The footman held tightly onto Lord Dodgson so I could let go. I turned and faced the boy. Rabbit, the little albino street rat, was grinning at me. Sneaky little pickpocket. What was he doing in my part of town? He’d grabbed the watch so deftly. Not bad. Some people said he was almost as good as I used to be.
Lesley Parkin provides the outstanding narration of Curiouser and Curiouser. This is the first time I’ve ever listened to her. Sometimes I have a learning curve with a new narrator, but I experienced no issues following her performance from the get-go. Her voice is clear and easy to understand. Her pacing is spot-on. She expresses all the expected emotions and the voices she used for the characters are ideal fits. Her south London accent made listening to this audio book a pure pleasure. I can’t wait to listen to her again soon!
The author’s writing is addictive and I didn’t want to put it down once I’d started. I found myself squeezing in listening time because I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. The author made me feel that I was experiencing everything with Alice from the wonder at the steam punk characters to feeling the horror that Alice saw and smelled when in the Queen’s castle. There is a romantic element, but, if you are looking for a true romance, I would look elsewhere as this relationship works as a complement to the story. If you enjoy powerful and ingeniously plotted gloriously dark fantasies, highly original steam punk tales, or just crave a fun, well-told story featuring a whole new Alice, I’d highly recommend checking out Curiouser and Curiouser!
Suggested Reading Order:
Curiouser and Curiouser: Steampunk Alice in Wonderland
Ice and Embers: Steampunk Snow Queen
Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast