Blogging/editorial note from bobbygw: In celebration of the UK publication of Alice by bestselling novelist Christina Henry, this post is by the author (also author of the highly successful Black Wings trilogy comprising Black Spring, Black Heart, Black City). This post is part of her blog tour series to promote this great book (I’ll publish my review later this week). There’s more info about her entertaining tour at the end of this post, so you can read all her posts in the series at your leisure. Note: Titan Books will publish Red Queen, the sequel to Alice, on July 12 2016 in paperback and ebook editions.
One of the most influential fantasy stories of all time is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I’ve written before that Alice and her story have become embedded in our cultural memory in such a way that even people who’ve never read the original story feel as though they must have.
Alice’s story is so iconic and has such a fairy-tale-like, almost mythical quality that many filmmakers and authors (including myself) have dipped into that sandbox to create our own Wonderlands (or in my case, more of a Nightmareland) and shape our own versions of Alice.
There have been lots of direct interpretations of the story, and I love many of them, but I’m especially interested in the stories that have Alice’s DNA without being specifically Alice stories. After all, any story that has a hole for the hero/heroine to fall through or a magical door to another world owes a debt to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Here are my four favorite Alices (and almost Alices):
4) Disney’s 1951 Alice in Wonderland film – This is the first version of the story that I remember seeing, and it remains one of the most enduring for me. The Cheshire Cat, in particular, becomes much more whimsical and charming in this version. In the book I always felt he just enjoyed thwarting Alice, but his mischievous expressions in the film mitigate that to some degree.
3) C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Supernatural passageway to another world? Check. Young heroine who discovers a magical world and creatures and accepts them in a matter-of-fact way? Check. Much is made of both the Christian allegory and epic fantasy elements of this story, but at its heart this book is Lucy’s Adventures in Narnia.
2) Neil Gaiman’s Coraline – Here Alice is called Coraline, and the passage she goes through brings her to a place that seems wonderful at first but quickly turns dark and frightening. There’s even a black cat whose helpful unhelpfulness rivals the Cheshire’s.
1) Angela Carter’s “Wolf-Alice” from The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – This story has a loose tie to Through the Looking Glass and also to a version of Little Red Riding Hood. I adore Angela Carter and the way she interpreted the darkness in well-known fairy tales. In this story Alice becomes a self-aware adult, which is a theme that runs underneath the Carroll stories – all along Alice is becoming less childlike, more grownup.
More about Christina Henry’s wonderful blog tour: