From the author of the Fate series and The Deep End of the Sea comes a fantastical romantic adventure that has Alice tumbling down the strangest rabbit hole yet.
After years in Wonderland, Alice has returned to England as an adult, desperate to reclaim sanity and control over her life. An enigmatic gentleman with an intriguing job offer too tempting to resist changes her plans for a calm existence, though. Soon, she’s whisked to New York and initiated into the Collectors’ Society, a secret organization whose members confirm that famous stories are anything but straightforward and that what she knows about the world is only a fraction of the truth.
It’s there she discovers villains are afoot—ones who want to shelve the lives of countless beings. Assigned to work with the mysterious and alluring Finn, Alice and the rest of the Collectors’ Society race against a doomsday clock in order to prevent further destruction . . . but will they make it before all their endings are erased?
Alice, who was once in Wonderland, is now in an asylum, desperate to reclaim her sanity. She is not insane for having been in Wonderland. She learned that Wonderland drugs every non-Wonderlandian-native. Essentially going to rehab, Alice is comfortable in her sane world until her doctor introduces her to a strange man who believes Wonderland is real. He needs her help to save Wonderland, but to do so, she has to enter the “real” world and join the Collectors’ Society. The Collectors’ Society preserves the Timelines of all classics, such as Don Quixote, Jane Eyre, and Peter Pan. They preserve these Timelines by collecting the catalysts, which if destroyed will also delete the Timeline it is from. While learning to navigate the 21st Century, Alice has to help this secret society prevent more Timelines from being deleted. Oh, and did we mention the love interest? Meet the incredibly hot and smart (Huckleberry) Finn Van Brunt. Can Alice save her Timeline before all is lost?
Heather Lyons’ The Collectors’ Society is an incredible book. I couldn’t put it down. This is essentially fanfiction with a heavy focus on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. I loved that most of the Society members were also from other Timelines. I thought for about half the book that there was going to be a love triangle, but I’m happy to report that while it could have happened, Alice focused her attention on one man. Also, I believed one or two of the characters were secretly villains in this novel, but who’s to say what side they will be on in one of the sequels?
Timelines are the individual universes and corresponding timelines of the books. Alice, ever the philosopher, ponders whether or not her world actually exists. Were the authors essentially gods, creating people and universes out of nothing? Are all of the Timelines real in their own right? Were the authors given information about each of these Timelines, by some higher being, to write about them? As the Tootsie Pop commercials said, “The world may never know.”
Alice grew the most. Her flashbacks to Wonderland show the scars the mad country left upon her, but they have made her the strong, kick-butt character she is today. She learns to accept that her past, present, and future as things that meet at herself. She becomes less concerned about her sanity. Finn seemed to mostly grow in the area of romance with Alice and helped her more in that area than she reciprocated. He was able to accept, mostly, that Alice could defend herself well enough. They both learn to accept that they cannot be strong all of the time and it is not always their fault if they were unable to prevent harm.
The world building is excellent. Some of it is built on existing worlds, so Lyons had help. Explaining the Collectors’ Society was good too. I also liked how she described Wonderland as more of a darker and sentient world than the more whimsical view of Disney. The only thing I didn’t understand was how these catalysts are identified and why they are the catalysts.
One theme in this book is to accept the past. This is best explained with this quote on page 109:
“Sometimes our pasts are chains we cannot let go of, even if the key is in our hands. They define us in ways we resent, and yet they are somewhat precious, too. Because, logically, we understand that our pasts have made us who we are, even if we want nothing more to [sic] close our eyes to them.”
While the cover is beautiful, it does not match the content of the book. The first pages of each chapter gave a sense of the fantasy and whimsy. As I’m starting to see more often in the ebooks I purchase from Amazon, there seems to be an issue with the software to correctly mark the chapters. The software believes that each chapter starts one page after the actual start of the chapter. I didn’t stick with the publisher’s font for this one. I wanted to try out the new Bookerly font that Kindle recommended for use (the font seems to increase reading speed as it claims).
This new adult novel is a fantastic read for fans of Alice in Wonderland, even if you haven’t read the original stories. If you like reading fanfiction, this is the book for you. As for me, before I pick up more Alice-inspired fiction, I want to read the Lewis Carroll’s books.
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Fanfiction
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars