My First Wild Card Novel

Mississippi Roll was my intro into the Wild Card Universe. In all honesty, I was expecting a pocker-game-gone-wrong-in-the-wild-wild-west kind of novel. Boy was I in for a surprise! Mississippi Roll is not the kind of novel I usually read. I flee from the science fiction side of the fantasy genre and prefer elves, dragons, and far off kingdoms. But I persisted and I’m glad I did.

 

Initial insights

 

George R. R. Martin assembled a gifted group of writers who chronicle the Natchez’s final voyage on the Mississippi River. Mississippi Roll has something for everyone. From an old-school haunted ship story to a rescue mission, showbiz, and a who-done-it crime. Each story had a unique voice that added to a greater story.

 

A Captivating Mystery

 

I thoroughly enjoyed Death on the Water by Cherie Priest. One of the staff members on the boat Natchez is murdered and it’s up to Leo Storgman, an insurance investigator, to find the truth. I really liked Priest’s humor and storytelling. Usually, I’d try to figure out what happens next but I was so enthralled that I didn’t even think about it. I simply relished in following Priest’s trail to the final reveal. A Big Break in the Small Time by Carrie Vaughn, was another favorite of mine.

 

Not What I was Expecting

I was unprepared for the lengthy “chapters”. I wasn’t expecting a collection of short stories, so it took a while to adjust to the length of each story. I couldn’t follow Wingless Angel by John Jos. Miller. I attribute most of this to the fact that I didn’t understand the world and as a result, felt lost. I didn’t really care for In the Shadow of Tall Stacks either. Those chapters just felt really long. I only realized what the Wild Card universe is about in chapter three and struggled to remember the difference between jokers and aces through much of the book.

 

Final thoughts

 

I was pleasantly surprised by Mississippi Roll and I would probably read future books in the Wild Card series. I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars. I’d like to thank MacMillian Tor Publishing and NetGalley for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Ratings:

Alice Returns to Wonderland as an Assassin

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay is an Alice in Wonderland re-imagining that chronicles Alice’s life after Wonderland.

Initial Insights

Ramsay’s “sequel” to the classic children’s story starts with Alice in a psychiatric hospital where the White Rabbit enlists her to assassinate the Queen of Hearts. Consequently, Alice returns to Wonderland as an undercover agent in the Queen’s court as one of her handmaids.

Two Side to the Story

Ever Alice is written with two point of view, or POV, characters – Alice and the Queen of Hearts. Personally, I enjoy books with multiple POVs, particularly if one of those perspectives is a villain’s. I enjoyed learning more about the Queen. She was still the clear antagonist but her chapters shed light on her motivations, exposing her vulnerabilities and insecurities and making her slightly more human – but only slightly. The reader gets a glimpse into her origin as the Queen of Hearts and how she came to be the of-with-his-head dictator everyone loves to hate.

I clearly enjoyed the Queen’s story arc more than Alice’s. What makes it work is the readers knowledge of storytelling. From the assassination plan to her majesty’s paranoia about everything (I kid you not), Ramsay creates a tension that captivates.

Nostalgia Sells

Ever Alice also stayed true to the elements that made the original memorable. It is filled with quotes such as, “But are you the right Alice?” and “Off with his head!”  The strange and quirky Wonderland language and beloved characters, make this a beautiful tribute to an old favorite.

Final Thoughts

Did I like it? It was okay. I definitely appreciated Ramsay’s craft and writing style and look forward to reading other titles by her. Though the plot was predictable I still enjoyed the experience. The twists were intriguing and if Ever Alice has a sequel I would read it too. Ever Alice is set to be published in August 2019. So, if you like re-tellings, it is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

*Thank you NetGalley and Red Rogue Press for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.