A Twisted Tale #10: Unbirthday by Liz Braswell

“Unbirthday takes our beloved Alice and throws her back into the world of Wonderland as an adult.”

Review by Rayleigh Setser

The 10th installment in the New York Times best-selling A TWISTED TALE series asks: What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?

Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She’d rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian’s lively salon, ignoring her sister’s wishes that she stop all that “nonsense” and become a “respectable” member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss Yao’s teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She’s also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she’s curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming.
But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects―the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There’s something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all―a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice’s help. Mary Ann.

Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts’ tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?

For more twisted adventures, try the other books in the A TWISTED TALE series:
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
As Old as Time by Liz Braswell
Reflection by Elizabeth Lim
Part of Your World by Liz Braswell
Mirror, Mirror by Jen Calonita
Concel, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita
Straight On Till Morning by Liz Braswell
So This is Love by Elizabeth Lim
Go the Distance by Jen Calonita
What Once Was Mine by Liz Braswell

"I suppose what I would truly like to be, most of all, is myself. Whoever that is."

Alice in Wonderland is that classic fairytale that I keep going back to, never growing tired of her daydreaming and acceptance of how messy life is. Alice has always been my hero in many ways because she never looks at an obstacle and thinks "that's too big for me", she simply changes her perspective and decides to overcome it in the most creative and unique way possible. Alice accepts everyone for exactly who they are, even though the "real world" would deem them nonsensical or weird, and I just really love her welcoming, nonjudgement outlook on people.

"It was like tea with a toddle; messy. But without guilt or rules."

Unbirthday takes our beloved Alice and throws her back into the world of Wonderland as an adult. There, she faces the struggle that all of us experience at some point or another: trying to keep that childlike perspective as we see the horrors of the world as an adult. The overlaying message of this book is "perspective" and I really appreciated that.

I also really, really enjoyed a peek into Alice's romantic life. I do wish that her jumping back and forth had included more time for the gentleman in her life, rather than the politics of what was happening in England. I honestly wanted to skip through all of the parts of her in England and either stay completely in Wonderland, or with her sweetheart, so a good portion of the story was boring to me because she spent so much time in England with people who I didn't particularly care about. Though, I did adore her Aunt Vivian!

"For you, I have every single moment. All of them."

Overall, I never grow tired of Alice in Wonderland retellings and this somewhat darker version was a pleasure to read during October! I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars (rounded up) and recommend it to my fellow Alice in Wonderland fans. (Also, I listened to this audiobook and highly recommend it, as the narrator did a fabulous job!)

Content: The queen of hearts returns with even more executions than before, painting Wonderland red with blood (not literally, it's paint, but it's definitely supposed to be creepy and spooky). There are some very minor curse words sprinkled throughout when Alice is truly at her wit's end. And there is one small kiss but nothing else in the realm of romance.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 4 out of 10.
4. Some action (some mildly detailed battle sequences and/or fights).

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 2 out of 10.
2. Mild content (holding hands and mild kissing).

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 3 out of 10.
3. Infrequent mild cursing (less than 10 h*lls etc. Includes British words "bloody" etc.).

Other Trigger Warnings:

Our Reviews of Other Books in this series:

Do you have a favorite story that you enjoy retellings of?

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