Thank you NetGalley and Automatic Publishing for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Combat training! Secret society initiatiations! Self-serving rivals! Welcome to Wonderland’ s prestigious Millinery Academy: where those born to protect the Queensland train to become spies, assassins, and bodyguards. With all that to contend with, not to mention following in his popular brother’s footsteps, just getting through Imagination Class seems impossible already.
And that’s before he starts seeing ghosts lurking in the corridors…
When students begin behaving strangely throughout the academy, Hatter and his fellow cadets must unlock the mysteries behind the ghosts, and the headmaster’s suspicious behavior, before the entire student body finds itself possessed!
I have to be honest and admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Alice In Wonderland when I first read it as a child, but when I re-read it a few years ago I fell in love with the story and its quirky characters, particularly the Mad Hatter. Frank Beddor is the bestselling author of The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, which somehow I never got around to reading. So, when I saw this spinoff offered on NetGalley I knew I had to request it, and I’m so happy I did because it’s utterly brilliant! Hatter is a bit obnoxious at the beginning of this novel. He’s an insecure thirteen year old orphan who’s desperate to step out of his popular and self-assured older brother Dalton’s shadow and make a name for himself at the Millinery Academy. He’s snobbish and judgemental and falls in with a likeminded group of cadets. Thankfully it doesn’t take long for him to see the error of his ways. Hatter’s development is one of the most appealing aspects of the story as he transforms from a bullying follower to a confident leader and loyal friend. The other characters are equally captivating and well written. The Academy and the Hatbox are so richly drawn they’re almost characters themselves. This is a story where the world-building is so beautifully detailed that you’ll want to go visit yourself. The action is evenly paced and the ending nicely wraps things up while leaving subtle hints as to where the next book will pick up.
Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X. is an imaginative spin on Wonderland, and does much to set itself apart from the many other retellings of the classic Alice. The collaborative team of Beddor and Kress do a marvelous job and their writing flows together smoothly and seamlessly. The story perfectly balances the genres of fantasy and science fiction, while including real life lessons on peer pressure and bullying that readers of all ages can relate to. If you’re a fan of The Looking Glass Wars, you’re definitely going to want read this next entry into this marvelous world. If you’re like me and are new to this magical world created by Frank Beddor, after reading this book you’re going to want to go back and read the original trilogy while waiting for the next.