Shannon's Reviews > ArchEnemy

ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor
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's review
Aug 23, 2010

liked it

ArchEnemy is a fitting end to this series, which includes The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd. I'll admit to being a fan of books that re-imagine classic stories - whether it's a more complete look at Peter Pan (like in Peter and the Starcatchers) or a thoroughly modern take on King Arthur (like BBC's Merlin series). Frank Beddor manages to capture the off-kilter world of Wonderland while giving us a strong, believable Alyss.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the link between Wonderland and our world and its exploration of broader themes like gender roles and the value of imagination. We saw in the first two books in the trilogy that events in Wonderland impact our world and when King Arch found a way to halt imagination in Wonderland for his own purposes, creativity here ground to a halt as well. I enjoyed seeing King Arch's role fully fleshed out in this book, even if he's not someone I'd like to personally know. It was particularly interesting in this book of the series to see the juxtaposition of a character who is clearly and strongly misogynistic and two strong female queens. Creating a power triangle instead of a love triangle is a new literary approach I've not seen frequently, but it worked well.

What I don't love about these books is the violence. Sure, it's imaginary violence, but I got a bit bored at times with the descriptions of weapons and battles. I often skimmed over parts of these passages, but near the end I felt the need to read them for fear of missing story resolution. I got the impression that Beddor was trying to write a book that a teenage boy would read and while the emphasis on fighting was a bit of a turn-off for me, the world he's created and the fascinating characters within it made it worth reading.

If you're a fan of Alice in Wonderland, definitely give this book a try. It's fresh take on Lewis Carroll will likely delight you. If, like me, you're a fan of adult fairy tales, this series is definitely worth a read. As a young adult series, each book in this trilogy reads very quickly and I'd classify all as escapist fiction. So perhaps hold off on reading these until you're feeling overwhelmed by your day to day responsibilities. Then grab these books and head down the rabbit hole.

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