Playing Hearts – W.R. Gingell


Playing Hearts cover image

Playing Hearts by W.R. Gingell – Did I mention I liked Gingell’s writing? I totally do. This one is free to her newsletter subscribers (and since I am a fan, I subscribed immediately) but also for sale if you don’t want to subscribe. It’s obviously loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, but there’s so much more. There’s a lot of story here for such a short book. It’s darker than the other two above but still far from grimdark. I’ve never really loved Alice in Wonderland, but I loved Playing Hearts anyway – it was wildly imaginative and dark and funny and brilliant.

It begins the way it has always begun: with a card on Mabel’s pillow. But Mabel has been in Underland–or Wonderland–before, and she’s not so anxious to go back. No matter what name it takes, Underland is always bizarre, always mad, always dangerous.

There’s the Queen of Hearts, terrifying, powerful, and possibly insane.
There’s Hatter, purple-eyed and undoubtedly mad.
March Hare has always been one sandwich short of a picnic, and Sir Blanc is missing his wits.

And then there’s Jack. Jack the aristocratic son of the Queen. Not quite mad, but not far off. Disinclined to help anyone but himself. A liar.
And, thanks to an ancient ceremony performed by the Queen, Mabel’s fiance.

Fall into the rabbit hole with Mabel as she climbs through tea-pots, battles the Jabberwock, and attempts to overthrow the Queen of Hearts herself.

Don’t lose your head.

And whatever you do, don’t be late…

This book review originally appeared on C. J. Brightley’s blog.

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