The Otherland Circus
by Kelsey Elizabeth Behm

"If all of the evidence before her did not read of such cruel and depressing results, Lizzie almost would have thought that Wonderland was wondrous indeed -- a place that a girl would enjoy so much that she would not want to leave."

At the Pauper’s Lunatic Mill, Lizzie Lutwidge’s father and brother study the Alice Effect—a strange, dreamlike journey to a subconscious realm—on girls admitted to the ward. Tired of being kept out of the loop, Lizzie makes her way to the Mill to seek answers but instead encounters more mysteries—and even horrors. Ever the curious one, Lizzie is determined to find out the missing piece to the puzzle that is Wonderland and the Alice Effect. However, her investigation reveals a twisted family secret and a dark destiny waiting for her. Can she save the girls who have succumbed to Wonderland?

Set in the early 1900s, this novel blends science, magic, fantasy, and reality together to create its own dark fairytale. Readers and fans of Lewis Caroll’s seminal work will appreciate this writer’s new take.

There are many different media that borrow the tropes of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland: a distortion of reality, nonsensical situations, and a dreamlike adventure “down the rabbit hole.” The author succeeds at borrowing these tropes but also gives them a fresh, sinister spin, where “Wonderland” has become a haven for young, angry girls but at a heavy cost. The themes of violence and transformation coupled with the presence of the circus do more than provide a dark version of Wonderland: They comment on gender roles and women’s desires as well as the psychiatric treatment for young women in the early 1900s. This is a thrilling read with strong world-building and intriguing characters that leaves you wanting more.

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