Alice in the Country of Hearts, Vol. 1 by QuinRose
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don’t even know anymore.
Basically, this is a violent retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Alice Liddell isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or not, but she’s in a strange world where the inhabitants of Wonderland are locked in civil war and just about everyone she meets loves her with a few exceptions. She believes this world is a product of her loneliness. This is a wholly ridiculous story, but I like it for some reason. I think it has everything to do with the characters and how cheerfully violent most of them are.
Favorite character so far is the punked-out Cheshire cat, Boris Airay, who is basically the opposite of a catgirl and dons many piercings and a skirt over his pants. There’s also the gleefully violent Peter White (the White Rabbit) who is a rabbit-boy who is completely obsessed with Alice—whom he kidnapped—and the perpetually pissed off Elliot March (the March Hare). Vivaldi (the Red Queen) was introduced as a woman who refers to herself as “we” and seems very detached from everything even though she is cordial toward Alice.
There’s Ace (Knave of Hearts) who’s directionally challenged and too oblivious to realize that Elliot really is trying to kill him, but he’s an awesome fighter. Elliot and Ace’s interactions are GOLD just because they are total opposites, and Ace seems unable to genuinely not understand that Elliot hates his guts. He seems to sincerely like Elliot much to Elliot's dismay and even went as far as to tell Elliot’s boss—who I am getting to—that he wasn’t offended by Elliot shooting at him.
Blood Dupre (the Mad Hatter and Elliot’s boss) is a boredom disliking Mafia boss who is the thorn in Gowland’s (a gender-swapped Duchess) because he’s told the whole country that Gowland’s first name is “Mary,” which sends Gowland into a rage. There’s the bloody twins Dee and Dum who Elliot also hates because they’re always calling him a “newb” hare and goofing off. And last we have Nightmare Gottschalk (the Caterpillar) and Julius Monrey (an original character, I think, but seems to be a representation of “time”) who seem a bit immune to “loving” Alice and seem to know more about why she’s there but are very cryptic about it.
While this is obviously shojo (manga marketed toward females), it’s ultra-violent which isn’t typical of shojo. I don’t think it is anyway, but I tend to read more shounen than shojo. I can’t say the story is very strong at this point, but it has done a bang up job on reimagining these characters and giving Wonderland a harder, satirical existence. At first I thought I was going to take issue with most people loving Alice, even Vivaldi hints toward loving her, but looking at it as a woman who’s created this world because of her own loneliness and betrayal, it makes sense and works.
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