Friday, June 02, 2023

#BookReview: Once upon a Wonderland by D.J. Stoneham

Synopsis: “Fee-fi-fo-fum!” boomed the ogre.
“Why do you keep quoting Shakespeare’s King Lear?” asked Alice. “And while we’re on the subject, why can you only smell the blood of Englishmen? Why not other nationalities? Or English women come to that?” 

A poltergeist in tattered leotards, a grumpy carnivore more interested in Gaston than Belle and a psychotic arsonist. These are not the Rumpelstiltskin, Beast and Cinderella that Alice knew and loved. Nevertheless, she needs to get them and other fairy tale characters out of Wonderland if she’s to mend Time and return home. And rescue Jack, the feathered boy she’s in love with.

Alice’s quest is not helped by charges of treason, the advances of a dashing mediaeval estate agent and the fact that she is growing younger by the hour. And then there is the Queen of Hearts and her cohorts to contend with. 

Alice’s journey is peppered with surreal events, gritty wordplay and the sinister backstories to popular fairy tales, making this stand-alone Wonderland story a must for younger and older adults alike.

“Captivating, iconic, and engaging. 10/10.” Anthony Avina
“Captures the whimsy and imagination of Carroll’s classic.” The Creative Muggle
“5-star. A noteworthy fantasy like no other.” Reader Reviews
“Engaging, entertaining, and wickedly smart … a classic in its own right.” Self-Publishing Review
“Stellar illustrations perfectly complement the narrative.” blueink
“One of the finest releases of 2023. A must read.” Book Nerdection


Rating: 4 Stars
My Review: I love retellings so when this one came up I was like yes please!!  I am hooked and this author needs to do more retellings with a twist.  This was freaking and creepy in the best possible ways. This full on fantasy was just what I was looking for in a retelling of Wonderland with twists and turns with horror and fantasy blended fully to create one chilling tale.  


The Reawakening of a Classic - Book Nerdection

Awarded a Nerdection "Must Read"

"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."

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.

Kevin Tanza, Book Nerdection

"Laugh-out-loud sequences, a fanciful tone throughout as well as stellar illustrations that perfectly complement the narrative." blueink
5-star A Whimsical Reimagination of A Beloved Classic -Reader View

DJ Stoneham has outdone himself in creating a noteworthy fantasy like no other. Once Upon A Wonderland is a delightful reimagination of the beloved fairy tale of the past. Updated with an extended cast of delicious and vile characters, they are sure to keep the reader engaged while racing from page to page as the plot thickens and dangerous agendas come to light. In a whimsical world where oddity is the norm, Stoneham's vivid imagination adds a sense of amusement with its unique style of scene-setting and descriptiveness of character encounters. These slight peculiarities set the tone for a gripping adventure for young and old alike.
Page after page, the author's writing style mesmerizes, drawing the reader into the unique qualities only a place such as Wonderland can possess. Alice's vernacular mimics the logical and quizzical sides to that of the original Lewis Carroll character, reminiscing a sense of nostalgia for readers of the 
Alice in Wonderland classic. Stoneham's work compliments Lewis Carroll's classic by including the scatterbrained Cheshire Cat and the mischievous Queen of Hearts and adding his own twist on their personalities and the importance of Alice's quest to repair Wonderland.
Once Upon A Wonderland" is a beautiful blend of a beloved classic with a unique creative enhancement for today's audiences

Reader Views, March, 2023
"The book's wonderful language, vivid imagery, and quirky fairytale characters bring the magical world of Wonderland to life." The Creative Muggle

Author Stoneham does an excellent job of capturing the whimsical spirit of Carroll's original story while infusing it with his own creativity. The book is filled with silly humour, harsh wordplay, and haunting backstories to popular fairy tales, making it a thoroughly engaging tale. 

The book's wonderful language, vivid imagery, and quirky fairytale characters bring the magical world of Wonderland to life. The book's romantic angle also adds an extra layer of charm. The illustrations in the book are also another fabulous feature, perfectly complementing the surreal and imaginative setting of the plot. 
Overall, Once Upon a Wonderland is a satisfying read that captures the whimsy and imagination of Carroll's classic.
Stephy George, The Creative Muggle.
Engaging, entertaining, and wickedly smart, Once Upon a Wonderland feels like a classic in its own right." Self-Publishing Review

"As inventive and immersive as all of Alice's previous trips. Children and adults alike will revel in this vivid reimagining of one of the most impossible realms in literature, taking the original story in new directions with Stoneham's innovative take on the dark side of fairy tales. The author's masterful dexterity with language is an impressive homage to Lewis Carroll's own whimsical pen, and the wordplay throughout the novel is rich, clever, and unpredictable. Engaging, entertaining, and wickedly smart, 
Once Upon a Wonderland feels like a classic in its own right." Self-Publishing Review
"Captivating, iconic, and engaging. 10/10" Anthony Avina

Captivating, iconic, and engaging, author DJ Stoneham's "Once Upon a Wonderland" is a must-read folklore and fantasy-driven fairytale novel. The wealth of mythology the author adapted for this book and the way the author was able to utilize the narrative of Alice and Wonderland simultaneously to showcase a new way of exploring our perception of mental health overall allowed the reader to enjoy the journey Alice goes on and the emotional connection she forms to so many of the people of this magical land. If you haven't yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
Rating: 10/10 Anthony Avina

About the Author

Having dived headlong into 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 his Wonderland books, he finds himself drawn to the curious, the fantastic and the peculiar.

Following his first novel in 2018 - 
Alice Falls Again - David published the epic fantasy duology - Outcast and Havoc - in 2021 before completing Once upon a Wonderland in early 2023.
Although relatively new to publishing his own fantasy works, back in the 1990s, David co-wrote a best-selling 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 after a few years in China and back in the UK, he now lives happily ever after in Finland.

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