Review: Looking Glass Girl by Cathy Cassidy

looking glass gielLooking Glass Girl by Cathy Cassidy
Genre: Retelling, Contemporary
Published by: Puffin
Pages: 260
Format: Hardback
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Eight years ago when I read my first Cathy Cassidy book, I promised myself that no matter what I age I was, I’d always try and read her books. Although I’m no longer the target audience of the stories, her books never fail to make me feel happy in a giddy, cute way. I managed to snag ‘Looking Glass Girl’, the Alice in Wonderland retelling, from my local library, and I have to say it has become one of my favourites! 
Plot and Person
The story follows Alice, a girl who fell into a comatose state after tripping down the stairs at a themed sleepover. We don’t know what caused the accident or if it was an accident after all, so with every turn of the page, we get closer to discovering the mystery, while Alice gets closer to discovering herself, trapped in a mad land of talking animals and jam tarts.

The story is told in a mixture of 1st and 3rd person. Alice takes the 1st person role, but when she can no longer speak, her friends, peers, parents and love interest take over the story telling. It also jumps from before her fall and during her coma, which really builds the atmosphere of suspense as it’s revealed slowly, but surely, how Alice came to be mangled under a broken mirror.

Retelling Elements
What I loved about this retelling was its ability to stand as a novel on its own, without the intertextual elements. It goes without saying, I really loved the small Wonderland parts, when Alice was asleep, and I loved how they disjointedly linked to what people were doing and saying in the real world, but overall, it was a very diluted retelling.

Instead of Cathy’s characters taking on the role of the Wonderland cast, it was all just themed, with subtle nods to the original text, including Alice’s name, of course. The way I could extract the characters from the original tale made it less predictable and more exciting to read, because Cathy could take it in any direction.

Characters
I felt like the characters of Looking Glass Girl were set apart from the characters of her stand alone novels, or The Chocolate Box Girls.  Alice is brave and interesting. I really liked the pure vulnerability she had after she was bullied, but she didn’t become completely spineless. She was apprehensive and not entirely gullible, which made me root for her even more. I guess, she was sensible and embodied the qualities of a teenage girl I wish I’d possessed at that age when I was going through a similar situation.

Also, none of the cast were easily defined as good or bad. Lainey, Alice’s ex-BFF was incredibly complex and emotive, while Savvy, painted as the villain, had great hidden depths. In middle-grade/early YA fiction, it’s easy for characters to just have one personality trait, but this book was accomplished in showing how diverse teenagers can be.

Romance
Oh goodness, I just love a good Cathy Cassidy romance. They’re so idyllic and lovely. Luke was no exception to Cathy’s collection of ridiculously cute and endearing boys. If only we could all have one in our lives.

Overall, I’m going to give ‘Looking Glass Girl’ four stars. I enjoyed it immensely, so much so, I read it in one sitting. I highly recommend the story to anyone who loves the Wonderland world, but also to anyone looking for a simply great book, with thrills and secrets and delicious party food.

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