Mad About the Hatter – Dakota Chase
This isn’t his sister’s Wonderland….
Henry never believed his older sister, Alice’s, fantastic tales about the world down the rabbit hole. When he’s whisked away to the bizarre land, his best chance for escape is to ally himself with the person called the Mad Hatter. Hatter—an odd but strangely attractive fellow—just wants to avoid execution. If that means delivering “Boy Alice” to the Queen of Hearts at her Red Castle, Hatter will do what he has to do to stay alive. It doesn’t matter if Henry and Hatter find each other intolerable. They’re stuck with each other.
Along their journey, Henry and Hatter must confront what they’ve always accepted as truth. As dislike grows into tolerance and something like friendship, the young men see the chance for a closer relationship. But Wonderland is a dangerous place, and first they have to get away with their lives.
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are all-time favorites so inevitable comparisons were made while reading this.
In terms of world-building, Dakota Chase’s Wonderland is as topsy-turvy as the original. There were sharks in trees, a land where everything was backwards, an endless desert made of sugar sand and armies of confectionery at war with each other. We meet old favorites like Caterpillar, the White Rabbit. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Red Queen (nasty, nasty creature) and of course the Cheshire Cat who I wish had more page time. We also meet an older Alice, now a family woman, with kids named Carol and Louis (I’m sure you get that). However, the focus was mostly on the Mad Hatter.
I love Hatter’s character the most. Ever so charming, proper and maddeningly logical, he guides Henry through Wonderland all the while trying to keep them both safe and processing his feelings towards the young man. Henry was harder to like. The way he questioned everything in near hysterical voice could be tiresome and I wonder if Henry as a turn of the century British young adult would be calmer and more tolerable than Henry the modern American teenager. The romance between them was of the insta-attraction variety which was kind of OK as far as romances go but the realization of feelings was mostly from the Hatter’s side. How Henry suddenly liked the Hatter apart from the fact he found the Hatter handsome when he apparently disliked the man needs to be spelled out.
There were a lot of walking involved in this story and it would have been boring if not for all the whimsical attractions and dangers of the land AND Joel Froomkin’s, who is actually Joel Leslie, amazing voice acting skills. Everything was resolved satisfactorily when it comes to the Kingdom of Wonderland although I’m not as satisfied with Hatter and Henry’s ending, particularly Henry’s decision which, going back again to my complaint earlier, he might not feel as strongly about Hatter as Hatter does about Henry. Still it’s nice to see the Hatter fall in love and it’s almost expected that he is at the very least bisexual if not pansexual.
Overall, the author stayed faithful to the spirit of the original but added modern elements (Hatter’s reaction to motorized vehicles was hilarious) which worked somehow but was, I think, unnecessary. I consider the whole thing an enjoyable romp through familiar territory made more diverse by LGBTQAI+ leads and while it is not without its flaws, Mad About the Hatter was a good homage to the original stories.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love