Ever Alice is a new book that was just released on August 1st. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy to read and while I haven’t gotten to read it yet I do have a synopsis and q&a with the author for you!
Ever Alice, by H.J. Ramsay, “follows 15-year-old Alice’s life in an insane asylum, as she desperately tries to prove that the adventures she experienced in Wonderland were real. When she finally begins to accept her diagnosis as “mad,” the White Rabbit brings her back down the Rabbit Hole to have her kill the Queen of Hearts, who is beheading anyone she deems suspect as a traitor, including her most beloved and trusted allies. But Alice isn’t the same young girl she once was, and with love, scandal, and curiosity following her into Wonderland, she must decide if she’s truly the hero everyone thinks she is.”
According to Kirkus Reviews, “In this historically relevant fantasy, Ramsay honors Lewis Carroll’s work while expanding how readers connect with Wonderland,” “This trip to Wonderland delivers a mature, lasting jolt.”
Ever Alice author H.J. Ramsay on:
MADNESS, MENTAL HEALTH, AND GOING BACK DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE IN SEQUEL TO A CARROLL CLASSIC
Question: Why did you want to create a new Alice in Wonderland story with Ever Alice?
H.J. Ramsay: I didn’t fully read the book until I was adult but as a kid watching the Disney version, I was always left with this unsettled feeling. When I did finally read Carroll’s novel, to me, the original felt like a gold mine of mental health issues and that the world itself was Alice’s elaborate coping mechanism. A place she went to during times of distress. We all have coping mechanisms, though we generally do not lose ourselves in them. Then, when I was employed at Child Welfare as a caseworker, I felt like I needed a Wonderland myself after dealing with families with drug abuse, mental health, domestic violence, and varied types of child abuse/neglect issues on a daily basis. I found this connection between mental health and this need for a Wonderland more than ever before. And when I was writing and entering Wonderland, it became my coping mechanism as well.
Q: Ever Alice has been referred to more of a sequel than a re-telling. Would that be accurate?
HR: I would definitely agree. Ever Alice takes place and continues on with the story after the events of Through the Looking Glass. It’s a continuation of the story, with some added embellishments. I really tried to stay as true as possible to Lewis Carroll’s writing style and vision while diving deeper into the world of Wonderland, specifically attempting to define what is Wonderland.
Q: What do you want readers to know about the overall theme of mental health throughout the book?
Ever Alice is a story about mental health and how we treat those with mental health issues. While my theory and interpretation of Wonderland dives into these issues, my goal is for readers to see Alice’s experiences in Wonderland, and the subsequent limitations of them, through the lens of mental health. Wonderland is a backwards world and the book itself should be understood not front to back, but back to front.
The second part of the mental health component for me is exploring how does someone with mental health issues see the world? If two “sane” individuals can look at a piece of artwork and perceive two different things, what about the person with a mental health disorder? What does the world look like to them? I feel like there’s this impression that, for the mentally ill, the world is some scary place, but it could be as vibrant and whimsical as, say, Wonderland or Oz. A place that a sane person would probably rather reside than the real world.
Q: And the role of mental health leads to a major twist might change the way readers interpret Alice in Wonderland, as well.
HR: Alice shares the stage with the Queen of Hearts in the book, which leads to a major surprise for long time readers and fans of Alice. It dives into why the Queen of Heart’s madness was not something born inside of her, but the result of her upbringing. It might serve as a shock, but I hope readers take from this that a pattern of broken trust can lead to a constant feeling of paranoia about the true intention of others, which is enough to make anyone go a little crazy.
Q: So, would you agree that “All the best people are” mad?
HR: More so than that, I think even the sanest people have the ability to turn mentally ill, and I can’t wait for readers to explore this psychology, the role of our psyche, and this madness alongside Alice once again.
H.J. RAMSAY serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Gold Man Review and Smoldr. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice, holds minors philosophy and related studies to criminal justice, and she teaches writing classes at her local community college. Her love for fantasy stories and her previous job as a caseworker helped inspire Ever Alice, her first published work. She resides with her family in Northern California.
*I was sent this book complimentary. This post also contains an affiliate link.*