57. Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars) by Frank Beddor. 371 p. Published August 2007.
This second novel follows immediately after The Looking Glass Wars. Alyss has taken her place as Queen of Wonderland but still worries after her aunt Redd, whose daring dive into the Heart Crystal – the source of all imaginative power – provided a last minute escape. Doing what they can to piece the queendom back together after Redd’s disastrous rule, Alyss and her advisers often end the day in exhaustion, a fact that King Arch of the neighboring Borderlands is willing to exploit. Sending an attack of Glass Eyes, a weapon salvaged from Redd’s army, Arch inflames fears of Redd’s return and uses the Diamond family to get Molly, Alyss’ bodyguard, to unwittingly trigger a devastating explosion in Wonderland’s primary transportation system, the Looking Glass.
Meanwhile, Hatter Maddigan, who has taken a short vacation to mourn the passing of his beloved, stumbles upon proof that Molly is, in fact, his own daughter. He rushes back to Wonderland in hopes of finding her, but is too late, the young girl taken back to King Arch under the guise of a third party’s kidnapping. Hatter follows her into the Borderlands, neglecting a direct order from Alyss.
Redd, who had spent the intervening months on earth to gather an army, finally returns to Wonderland in hopes of navigating her long-neglected Maze and gain full control over her own powers of Dark Imagination. Alyss is hard pressed on all sides, knowing that her country cannot survive a fight on two fronts, and is forced to make a decision that will change the face of Wonderland forever.
From the start it was obvious that, unlike the first book, Seeing Redd couldn’t rely on the novelty of retelling Alice in Wonderland. Instead, Beddor begins to build upon the story, making it his own. On the one hand, he does a marvelous job, developing a sense of realism in the characters. At the same time, much of Seeing Redd came across as monotonous, spending too much time delving into motivations and machination and the story only begins to pick up towards the rear of the book. Ending with a cliffhanger, Seeing Redd leaves a lot for the third and final novel.
Rating: 2 out of 5