I’m a huge fan of blending genres and fictional characters into new works of art. So when asked if Project Fandom would be interested in reviewing the first volume of The Weirding Willows, I jumped at the chance. Dave Elliott has taken some of our favorite literary characters and placed them in a magical place with portals to many worlds.
Alice (of Wonderland fame) lives with her father Dr. Moreau (Yes, that one) in The Willow Weir. When she was a child, Alice found a portal to Wonderland, but once she got back, no one (including her father) believed her tall tales of magic mushrooms and talking animals. Her father spends the majority of his time experimenting on animals, which Alice, now 18, finds appalling. That’s why she decides to keep the existence of her talking rabbit friends a secret. She also doesn’t let on that she stumbled across other portals to some of literature’s most iconic lands: OZ, Neverland, Elysium, and more.
When Dr. Moreau’s friend, Dr. Jekyll, introduces him to Margareete Marche from Oz, Moreau agrees to create flying monkeys for her. We know nothing good will come of this, right? Especially when we later learn that Marche is known as The Wicked Witch of the West back home and that she also knows the secret of Jack the Ripper. At times, the introduction of so many fictional characters was a bit overwhelming. Besides the ones mentioned above we also meet Dr. Doolittle, Mowgli, Frankenstein’s monster, the Cheshire Cat, a werewolf, and a host of others.
The reimagining of those characters did keep the story interesting, though, and the Field Guides inserted throughout the book helped to provide much-needed background on these new versions of old characters. The artwork managed to give each of the different areas around The Willow Weir, and the lands beyond, their own unique feel and look. And including an older version of Alice who cracks wise and kicks ass was a refreshing choice.
I’m invested enough to pick up the next volume and I give the first one a solid 8 out of 10.