Warning: This book review contains spoilers for “You Are Alice In Wonderland’s Mum!” by Sherwin Tjia. If you want to avoid spoilers, you might want to look for another book review.
I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “You Are Alice In Wonderland’s Mum!” by Sherwin Tjia! It’s been a while since I read an Alice-In-Wonderland-related book, let alone a book in the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure genre, so I’m glad to pick this one up and see where it goes. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“London, 1862. When your daughters Lorina and Alice go for an afternoon’s picnic in Hyde Park, Alice goes astray! You practically run your legs off looking for her, and as night falls you panic. You look for a clue, a sign—anything. And that’s when a smelly vagrant steps out from behind a tree and offers you information in exchange for coin—or a kiss. If you decide to ignore him, continue searching on page forty-two. But if you hear him out, turn to page twelve. The choice is yours!
In a quest to find your daughter that will take you through the seedy underbelly of London’s Whitechapel district and up into the secret debauched heart of its richest denizens, You Are Alice in Wonderland’s Mum! allows you to make the choices that will bring your dear daughter home, or lose her to Wonderland forever.”
There is murder and violence in this book, with many chances for you (the protagonist) to die depending on which choices you take, and there is some sexual content discussed, depending on which paths/endings you get when reading the book, and therefore this is not recommended for children, despite the Alice In Wonderland theme.
There is also some racist language used towards describing Chinese people (though this does take place in the Victorian era and might be result of the book trying to adhere to mixing Victorian history with other fantastical Wonderland-related elements). Also included in this book is implied pedophilia and abuse of children, child-kidnappings/children going missing, prostitution, and mentioned domestic abuse and alcoholism. If you’re sensitive to this content, in addition to the murder, violence and sexual content of this book, you probably should avoid reading this one.
Character Development: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I enjoyed reading all of the characters, including the character that the reader embodies, Hannah (a.k.a Alice’s mum). The development of each character depends on which choices and paths you take throughout the story. However, Sing instantly became one of my favourites every time I encountered him. This is because he was one of the actually-helpful and trustworthy allies that tried to help the main character (a.k.a the reader). He’s a fresh of breath air out of all the many other shady characters in the book that the reader encounters, because of this. It also helps that he only dies in one possible route, and that’s only if you make the wrong choice at the wrong time in the book.
I wish there was more involvement of some characters, such as Lorina (Alice’s sister), and even Reginald (Alice’s father, a.k.a the main protagonist’s husband), given that they’re related to her and the main character. However, I did enjoy reading the other characters. Many have dark sides to them and/or exist in the realm of the seedier parts of London (for example: one of them is literally the madam of a brothel, and Charles Dodgson himself has a creepier characterization in general), and you’re never sure of who to trust. I also enjoyed that some of the characters (Sing, from the opium den, as well as one of the ladies of the night) actually subverted expectations of what might be expected of them in Victorian society, as well as the main character herself.
Worldbuilding Development: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The way the book reinterpreted the classic, whimsical Alice In Wonderland elements and integrated it into the grittiness of Victorian England’s opium dens, brothels, and other dark secrets is pretty well-done. I am not an expert on Victorian history, so I can’t say how completely accurate a depiction any of those elements are, but the way the book used the Alice In Wonderland elements while keeping it grounded in a realistic situation (a mother looking for her missing child) made the book very fun to read.
Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars
Yes, this is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with multiple paths and endings, so it’s hard to judge on plot. However, the static plot events that happen, as well as the choices the reader can make to lead to any of the endings, are all well-written and thought out. All of the transitions between choices and scenes make sense, and the main major plotlines (obviously, finding Alice, but also navigating a deadly palace, trying to rescue numerous other girls from horrible fates after being kidnapped, etc.) are all dark, but fun to read.
I do admit there were many more ‘bad endings’ with two-to-four out of the endings being ‘good’ (though good is somewhat subjective in two of those ‘good’ endings). However, they were also interesting to read, as well, and none of them felt out of place (though it does depend on which choices you make beforehand, and what you experience due to those choices in the story).
Overall, I’m rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars!
I recommend this for anyone who wants a Choose Your Own Adventure book with a dark twist to it. However, note the trigger warnings I listed earlier before reading, in case you are sensitive to any of that content.
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