Twisted Tales: Unbirthday – Liz Braswell

Publisher: Autumn Publishing
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 1st, 2020

Rating: 4/5 Stars

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I absolutely adore the Twisted Tales series from Disney. This series takes a key moment in a Disney film and twists it just slightly, sometimes changing the ending of the story, altering it completely, or creating a tale that fits neatly into the original story. There are currently three authors involved in the series, and though my favourite ones are usually by Elizabeth Lim, Liz Braswell’s stories are getting stronger and stronger with each new one.

Unbirthday is the tenth and latest instalment in the series, asking the question what if Wonderland was in danger, and Alice was very, very late? As well as giving us a different view of a beloved characters, Braswell returns to some of the same themes she touched on in Straight on ‘Till Morning. This book takes place a while after the original story, and we meet Alice as an eighteen-year-old, a young woman who prefers her camera and eccentric, unmarried aunt to spending an afternoon with her sister, her sister’s young man and his friend.

Like Wendy in the previous Twisted Tale, Alice doesn’t want to follow the same path as the other young women. She’s not willing to follow along when the local politicians stir up hatred, but whereas Wendy’s parents push her down the path they want, Alice’s seem more than happy to indulge her; it’s the others who rush at her when they see her walking unchaperoned with a young man, or who look at her oddly when she talks of Wonderland.

I really liked the sense of worldbuilding for this novel, not just with the expanded version of Wonderland we get to see, but the town where Alice lives, too. It’s populated by a realistic mixture of characters, most with Wonderland counterparts. And just like in Wonderland, some people are there to help Alice, others to hinder her, and a couple are people who Alice realises she can help, too.

The themes are woven together through the two worlds, with Alice’s experiences in one reflected in the other. As she races to stop the Queen of Hearts destroying Wonderland, she must also contend with the hatred and evil seeping into Kexford.

I do think the book could have been cut down a little, as it becomes a touch repetitive in places, especially as Alice makes her journey across Wonderland and when she slips from one world to the other, but overall the book is pretty solid.

Alice is fun to follow through this adventure, a little bit more grown up but still open to wonder(land) unlike her sister and others. Braswell has done another fantastic job and the series as a whole continues to go from strength to strength. I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

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