Merry Wanderer of the Night + YA

Review: Hatter by Daniel Coleman

Hatter by Daniel Coleman is a companion novel to Jabberwocky (which I reviewed earlier this year) . Hatter is set in the same whimsical world as Jabberwocky but it extends that world beyond just the Jabberwock poem to include and create Coleman's version of Wonderland, taken from Lewis Carroll.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with retellings, one that is far too large and would completely take over this post if I tried to discuss it. But, the short version, is that while I absolutely love and adore fairy tale retellings, I completely avoid retellings of books. But the Alice in Wonderland stories kind of fall right in the middle for me. They are a book, but the stories of Wonderland feel very fairy tale-ish, so I'm a bit torn. The main reason I decided to read this book is because of how much I enjoy Jabberwocky.

I'll be honest and admit that I didn't love Hatter the same way I did Jabberwocky, but that doesn't surprise me... I've never actually read anything other than Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll and my experiences with Alice are solely based on the Disney version of the story. And we all know their reputation for sticking close to the original... ..

Anyway, Hatter is the story of Hatta, who is trying to understand his position in the world. He knows he views the world differently from everyone else and he honestly fears the insanity (or outsanity) that is lurking just within his mind. He views the world in colors, vivid, vibrant colors and his clothing reflects that. It's really interesting reading from his perspective, because the colors are tied to emotions, both his and others, and people give off colors that are reflective of their personalities. It fascinated me, and Hatta was such a quirky and interesting character to follow. The other narrator, Chism, was also interesting to read about, but for different reasons. Chism is colorblind, a soldier and full of rage and bitterness. He's a loner who wants nothing more than to continue as an elite — protecting the order of life (the circle and sword) and doing his duty. But when what he views as his responsibility seriously backfires, he ends up putting himself in a lot of danger, and also being the spark that starts the fire.

I don't know that I can put my finger on it exactly, but no matter how much I enjoyed reading the story, and enjoyed the characters, I felt a small level of disconnect from the story. Hatta was just a little too abstract and hard to follow at times and Chism was just a little too bitter and aloof. I saw where Coleman was going with that, and I understand why it was written that way, but it was just a little... too.

I do also wish that we had gotten to see more of The Queen of Hearts, got to experience more from her and what ultimately made her decide to be that person. We get to see a little bit of how she goes from a 'normal' person and becomes the violent queen, but I would have liked more. But, that's also mostly, because she was one of my favorite parts of the cartoon. (how morbid & violent is that... The young kid loving the crazy face screaming Off with his head!: P)

But overall, I really enjoyed this book. I had hoped to enjoy it, but wasn't sure what to expect given my thoughts on retellings and the fact that I know very little of the real Wonderland. But I'm happy to say that the book more than lived up to my expectations, and I'm even hoping that Coleman plans to write more Wonderland stories, because I will read them all.:) Maybe it will even be the motivation I need to finally read the originals.:)

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Review: Hatter by Daniel Coleman + YA