About the Book:
Title: To Escape a Wonderland
Author: Cece Louise
Publication Date: Oct. 10, 2023
Publisher: Jabberwocky Tales
Synopsis: What if Alice was trapped in Wonderland?
Alice once fell in love with the wrong man and paid a devastating price. Now she hides a dark secret and will stop at nothing to discover what happened to the sister she left behind. Bayne, a former knight, only wants a fresh start after his service almost cost him his life—and his mind. He certainly isn’t expecting a run-in with a thieving maidservant from his prior kingdom to change everything.
When the two are captured by outlaws and forced to partake in a traitorous plot, they end up lost in a perilous enchanted land with no way out. They must learn to trust each other—and themselves—if they hope to be freed from a twisted world where nothing is what it seems.
But the clock is ticking and some riddles have no answer. Can they escape before it’s too late, or will they be trapped in a land of madness forever?
To Escape a Wonderland is part of The Shattered Tales series, a collection of standalone fantasy reads from a variety of authors. However, it’s also part of the Forest Tales series by Cece Louise, a collection of clean standalone YA fairytale retellings with connected characters. I was thrilled to head back into the Forest Tales series! It’s such an original and entertaining collection, and I was dying to see how some of my favorite characters were doing. I wasn’t disappointed. Though the story focuses on minor characters in previous books, we also have some of the major characters from the same books as minor characters in this one.
The story follows Bayne, a soldier who was terrorized by the jabberwocky in The Jabberwocky Princess, and Avi, a woman who was presumed dead by her beloved sister. Both are strong and determined characters with traumatic pasts, but neither is defeated by the things they’ve gone through. They’re survivors, though they are haunted by the past.
Bayne and Avi find themselves thrust together on a treacherous journey. Taken captive, forced to confront a deadly monster that has terrorized Bayne in the past, and brought to a magical world where nothing makes sense, Avi and Bayne must depend on each other and use all of their skills to survive. It’s an engaging story that includes elements from Alice In Wonderland while still feeling fresh and new.
The romance between Bayne and Avi is, of course, my favorite part of the novel. I love a swoon-worthy love story, and this enemies to companions to lovers romance is the best!!. They are kindred spirits, and the way they slowly fall in love with each other is delightful. I really love the vulnerability Bayne shows when confiding in Avi. He is not a man who opens up to others, and his duty to the crown is the only thing that matters to him, so to see him take an emotional risk like this is just lovely. She is the only person he can truly be himself in front of without fear of judgment, and when he tells her about his past and reveals things he’s never told anyone before, you can see how hard it is for him. But his feelings for Avi are stronger.
Avi is the same. Afraid to reveal herself and some of her mistakes from the past, she finds a kindred spirit in Bayne. They understand each other well and respect all of the hardships and sacrifices each went through. Their deep connection and the way they slowly revealed their feelings to each other made my heart so happy.
The world-building is really cool, too, and I like that the story takes us to another unique place in the series. The Alice in Wonderland vibes are fantastic, and I loved the references to characters, plot elements, and even poems from the original work.
With an exciting plot, dynamic characters, and a sweet and romantic love story, To Escape a Wonderland is a fantastic read! Special thanks to Cece Louise for providing me with a copy of the book, all thoughts are my own.
- The romance!
- The fantasy elements.
- The world.
- The return of some favorite characters.
Why was it that we could so easily believe the best about each other, but not believe it about ourselves?
The past can imprison you or set you free. It all depends which way you turn the key.