Alice’s adventures in Wonderland have become a stable in the fantasy genre as a tale that can be continuously told and retold in various ways that allow for different interpretations, each with their own unique flavor. From Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere to Tim Burton’s own reimagining of the classic fable, Alice has certainly enjoyed a healthy life among fantasy fans. Alice in the Country of Hearts is yet another interpretation, this time in manga form, throwing surprising twists on established characters to make for a compulsively readable series that gets better with every passing volume. Even more surprising is the fact that the series is based on a computer game.
Volume 4 kicks off on a lighter note than some might expect with Alice and the Cat enjoying some time together while attending Mary Gowland’s amusement park. While things seem to be going smoothly, given this is Wonderland and most of its residents are mad, things go awry quickly when Mary decides to use Alice, the Cat, and himself as guinea pigs to test his newest ride.
Afterward, the series returns to its darker tone when Ace confronts the Cat with his plan to kill Alice to incite a change in Wonderland’s status quo. Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t really go anywhere and tapers off by the midpoint of the volume with a weak climax to an otherwise enticing scenario. Ace’s thought of killing Alice to observe the reaction of the rest of the Wonderlanders should have been stretched out more given the amount of promise it showed. Unfortunately, it ultimately resulted in the first major disappointment of an otherwise stellar series.
From there, all of Wonderland’s inhabitants are brought together for a ball, allowing readers to see every character introduced up to this point interact with one another, allowing for humorous scenarios as enemies are forced to act cordial with one another. There are some interesting bits toward the end, including the introduction of a new character named Joker whose motivations are merely hinted at in this volume.
Volume 4, though still enjoyable, gives readers to first signs of the series’ weaknesses coming to light. Considering it has shown only one major misstep, Alice in the Country of Hearts still comes with a high recommendation, however if the series intends to sustain reader interest, it’s going to have put forth a greater effort to deliver the next time around.