LOST IN WONDERLAND
The Twisted and the Brave, Book 1
by Nicky Peacock
YA Urban Fantasy/Thriller
Monsters, serial killers, and imaginary friends—being a Wonderlander can be murder...
Once upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother…
Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.
If you're looking for a sweet fairy tale retelling, this is not the book. But being a fairy tale fan, I was excited to get my hands on this one anyway, and it was well worth the reading ride.
Kayla is a seventeen-year-old trained assassin who works with a highly specialized group named Wonderland. Their goal is to stop and eradicate those who kidnap young girls for horrible purposes. Kayla, aka Mouse, is very good at what she does and has a caring 'family' which watches over her. Her own history, including her older brother who's locked up in an insane asylum, is another matter altogether.
This books grabs in the first scene and doesn't let go the entire way through. It's told mostly through Kayla's point of view, but also through her brother's and others. There's a lovely touch of uncertainty and mystery to it, which make it unclear what's real and what's not until the very end. Still for all the demented violence and slightly off-kilter personalities (some of which are really easy to adore), it's hard not to feel for Kayla and cheer for her the whole way through.
In many ways, this is a cleverly written tale. The author weaves in phrases from the original Wonderland, making them fit perfectly into this deadly world. It's not a retelling, but still does an excellent job of showing parallels and disclosing some of the delicious insanity.
There is violence and horrible situations, making it a little harsh for the lower end of the YA audience. And the scenes come across fairly realistic. The end rushes through a bit fast, missing some development but not enough to ruin the story by any means. It ends at a cliff hanger (a rushed one), and I'll be grabbing book two in hopes that it satisfies the missing links. Because this is definitely an adventure worth continuing. Albeit a dark one.