Author: DJ Stoneham
Year Published: 2023
“Nerdection Must Read”
Once Upon a Wonderland follows the story of Alice in her quest to save several fairy tale characters from Wonderland and mend Time, get back home, and save Jack, the boy she has fallen in love with. Meanwhile, we get to see several twisted versions of fairy tale characters we’ve known from childhood.
DJ Stoneham’s book is a celebration of what made this original story so great, coupled with surreal elements and twists and turns that make it one of the finest releases of 2023.
In general terms, Wonderland is falling apart and a wide variety of classic fairy tale characters, some of them being extremely iconic in the original Lewis Carroll story, which leads to Alice having to save the day and deal with a lot of the trauma and the consequences of said actions. There is also an element of romance and intimacy in this version that has a key role as the story progresses.
Alice also has to deal with her weird connection with the world of Wonderland and the ramifications of said connection, which is one of the running themes in Stoneham’s version of the classic fairy tale storyline.
There is also the element of Alice having time against herself, which is one of the plot devices that kick things into high gear and plays a fundamental role in the many different events that take place during the story.
In DJ Stoneham’s Once Upon a Wonderland, Alice will have to change the mold and save the day or things are about to get really dark and twisted in this interpretation of Wonderland.
My Take on Once Upon a Wonderland
I’m going to be perfectly honest here: when I started reading this book, I had very little expectation of this work being good. This was due to the fact that reinterpretations of the Alice in Wonderland mythos have become commonplace in recent times, so it is very common to see such iconic characters in the wrong hands.
Boy, was I wrong with this book and I’m very happy about that.
Part of what makes Once Upon a Wonderland such a good read is DJ Stoneham’s understanding of the fundamentals of storytelling and how fantasy works. Doing my research about him, I discovered that he is a fan of fantasy and it shows–he manages to take the fundamentals of the medium and give them these little twists that make the book very appealing.
There is a clear element of darkness and even a slight trait of horror in this story, but the wonderful part is that isn’t Stoneham trying to do it for shock value or something of the sort–it actually plays a factor in the plot he has structured. And that is the most important part of this book: it is an actual story with character development, plot threads and constantly moving forward instead of being self-indulgent.
Alice’s character was someone I immediately felt a connection with. She is strong and capable, but she grows throughout the story and she doesn’t get handed anything on a silver platter –she has to fight for every little bit of progress that she gets. As a protagonist, she is someone you can easily root for and that is something that I found appealing.
The cast is very colorful and varied, which is part of the reason I ended up reading the book in a couple of days. It is that good.
About The Author Of Once Upon a Wonderland
Having dived headlong down his own personal rabbit hole after a career in communications and sustainability, David Stoneham is now pursuing a lifelong dream of writing fantasy. Rather like the heroine of this book, he finds himself drawn to the curious, the fantastic and the peculiar.
His debut novel, Alice Falls Again, gained good reviews. Following that, David published the epic fantasy duology – Outcast and Havoc – in 2021 before publishing his second Wonderland book in early 2023.
Although new to publishing his own fantasy works, David is a seasoned all-round writer in that creative writing has always been part and parcel of both his career and leisure time activity. In the 1990s, he co-wrote an award-winning series of schoolbooks for English teachers and co-created a private anthology of short fiction, with foreword by Nicholas Negroponte and Arthur C Clarke.
Born in London, David grew up on the south coast of England and currently lives in Finland with his family.