The Twisted and the Brave, 1
Monsters, serial killers, and imaginary friends—being a Wonderlander can be murder...
Once upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother…
Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.
14+ due to violence and adult situations
Before I can scream, he stuffs me in his trunk. It is dark, smelly, and contains an empty plain black plastic bag and a dirty shovel; these are not good signs. I put my hands to the top of the trunk and push. It is locked. I wasn’t getting out till he wanted me to. I resign myself to curl into a ball, the acidic-smelling sweat of his palms still imprinted on my bare, narrow shoulders. I should be listening out for the car engine, hearing when it slows for corners or revs on open roads. I should be testing the resilience of all the sides of the black space around me. I should be doing all the things they tell you to do, but I don’t. I simply stay in my little ball, quiet and patient.
The car bounces up and down and I realize we’re not on the main road anymore. He’s taking me somewhere remote…
We come to a soft stop. The slam of a car door shivers through the metal of the vehicle. I know what is going to happen. It’s so inevitable that it’s almost laughable. Death comes to everyone at some point; what is that saying, “No one can avoid death and taxes.” Funny the things you remember when you’re in danger. I suppose your brain tries to distract you with all sorts of useless crap, anything to keep you from shutting down and freaking the hell out. I grab at my forearm, an almost robotic reaction, feeling down it to check that my tracking chip is still there. The hard edges beneath my skin make me smile. My small, metallic friend never lets me down, never abandons me.
The lid to my dark place is pulled up and I see him. His face is blank. There’s no hint of emotion or even intent other than what can be derived through his actions. His hands are sturdy as he pulls me from the trunk and stands me up before him. Being barely five feet tall, I only stand to his chest. I look down to the ground between us and see the cheapest sneakers in the world, ones probably made by enslaved third-world children. Man this guy is pure evil.
“Don’t worry, girl.” He puts a hand on my cheek and graces me with a twitchy smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. The hand lingers longer than usual polite social circles would allow. My eyes widen. I know that I am one of many girls he has brought here—one of the many that he planned to rape and strangle, then leave used and vacant by the side of the road, a hollow tangle of floppy limbs. How do I know this? Because I know him. I was looking for him. I’m not who, and what, he thinks I am. I’m not a fourteen-year-old girl, scared by the death sentence before her. No, I am something else entirely.
I smack his palm from my cheek and use the momentum to reach over with my other hand to grab his wrist. I position myself in front of him and use his own body weight to pull him down and over my now bent back. He hits the ground so hard he cries out. I keep hold of his arm and twist it around and under. He moves his body, angling it in the same direction in an attempt to ease the tension I’m creating.
“Stop!” he yells, those crappy sneakers frantically pumping to find enough purchase to get him to his feet.
I push harder till I hear the bone snap. He screams, but thanks to the remote location he has taken us to, no one hears him. I let go of his wrist and turn to retrieve the shovel from the trunk. I take a minute to loom over him. He is trying to get up, but the weight and pain of his broken arm is putting him off-balance. Funny how fragile the human body actually is, even one that belongs to a sick serial killer.
I raise the shovel and smack it over his knees. He howls and tries to shield himself with his good arm. An arm that is not intact for long, as I turn the shovel and this time use the edge to dig into his flesh. Blood pools on the ground and he begins to crawl. I’m not sure where he’s trying to go. I think his goal is just to get away from me. I walk the few steps to where he’s managed to drag himself to then bring my weapon down hard onto his skull. The splintering sound of bone meeting metal is my cue to get on with the operation. I pull my cell phone from my pink sparkle-covered jeans and dial the only number on it. An automated message greets me. “Off with their heads.” I take a breath and look over at the mangled mess of the serial killer they knew as the Doll Maker. “Here, here,” I say. The call rings off and I know that I have to make my exit now. They will come and clean up the mess. No one will ever know that the Doll Maker was an accountant with really bad shoes, and I mean really bad. It’s not till they’d stopped moving that I see peeling luminous go-faster stripes adorning their sides. Yeesh. The blood splatter does little to hide their ugliness.
I stoop and check for a pulse, finding none. His skin is already clammy and I could swear slightly rubbery, but in truth it is probably just my imagination.
I throw down the shovel and begin the trek back to civilization. The night air is bitter and cruel, so I pull up my lilac hood against it. An unmarked black car zooms past me. They were quick tonight. I rub my hand up my forearm and feel the comfort of my chip. My chip is a constant friend, albeit a chatty one; they will always be able to find me, know where I am, where I’ve been. Not that I’m complaining. I was lost once, when I was very little. And although that fear bubbles in my mind every day, I beat it back with my chip. I’ll never be lost again; or at least that is what my adoptive parents tell me. Wonderland doesn’t lose its operatives.
Showing reviews 1-10 of 24 | Next
Posted by Hitherandthee on 19th Feb 2017
To be totally honest, this novel took my by complete surprise. It’s intriguing, enchanting, and gave me a whole new view on the mythos of Wonderland. It moves very smoothly, switching from Wonderland to the real world and back again with ease. It also switches between characters effortlessly. I found it to be unexpectedly fabulous! I really felt for both Shilo and Mouse, both caught in a situation that neither really understands. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a grand adventure that’s somewhat out of the norm.
There’s a savage monster loose in the wilds of Alaska. The agents of Wonderland are trained to hunt down such creatures. Rabbit, Cheshire, and Mouse hunt monsters. Mouse sets her sights on Alaska, that is, until her brother Shilo appears. Shilo has myriad issues that Mouse (otherwise known as Kayla), isn’t quite sure how to handle. But Mouse does her best to deal with this rather delicate situation. After Rabbit goes hunting in Alaska for this killer, she vanishes. So Mouse and Shilo set out in search of a missing friend, a killer, and a missing past. But can they truly deal with everything they discover?
Posted by Marisa on 26th Aug 2016
This was a quick read. The story line was an interesting concept that involved monsters of both the human and the supernatural kind. Though it does raise the question: Does it take a monster to bring down a monster? It was well written, but even after thinking about it for a week, I’m still not sure how I really feel about this book.
Posted by Eustacia on 26th Aug 2016
This book basically proves that you should read the blurb to refresh your memory before reading the book, because I started without reading, and the book and I ended up with a rocky start. But in the end, I managed to get my bearings and enjoyed it quite a bit. Lost in Wonderland has two characters: Mouse (aka Kayla), who has been raised in Wonderland, and Shiloh, her crazy older brother. In this book, Wonderland is a secret non-governmental organisation that trains their operatives to kill serial killers (because the daughter of one of their founders was abducted and killed by one). The monster that Shiloh and Mouse encounter is back, and what goes on is a thrilling tale where nothing is what it seems. Although the beginning was confusing (and I admit that was my fault - I tend to dive into books without checking the blurb on Goodreads first), a quick check put me on track and I really enjoyed it. The 'Dark Wonderland' vibe got stronger as the book progressed and the ending, while open, still provided me with enough closure that I didn't want to hurl the iPad against something. All the chapters are short, which is to say that they are extremely fast-paced, and I basically finished the book in less than an hour because of that. If you're looking for a quick, thrilling read, this is a good book. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.
Posted by Stacey on 26th Aug 2016
This is definitely the most interesting Alice in Wonderland retelling that I have read this year alone. Which is saying something since this seems to be the year for retelling Lewis Carroll’s book. Throughout the entire book is references to the original Alice in Wonderland and it just helped the book become show that just about everyone is a little mad to be able to chase down serial killers and dispose of them. If you need a short fast read, I definitely suggest picking this book up! You won’t be disappointed in it. I received a free copy of this book for my honest opinion.
Posted by Elizabeth on 26th Aug 2016
If someone writes a book that in any way references Alice in Wonderland I'll read it. Lost in Wonderland starts out with a real bang. We meet Kayla, now Mouse, as she's abducted by a serial rapist/killer. She promptly disposes of her unsub and calls the mysterious Suits to come clean up the body. Lost in Wonderland never slows down from there. Mouse is an operative for the mysterious Wonderland. The King and Queen run Wonderland while the mysterious Hatter bankrolls it. Mouse has a fake family- her brother Cheshire, sister Rabbit, and parents The King and Queen of Wonderland. After they lost their child, instead of grieving they took action and created Wonderland, an organization of agents who hunt and dispose of terrible people. Mouse narrates most of the book, but it's told in alternating chapters from her, to Rabbit, to Shiloh (Mouse's biological brother), to the Kushtaka (the monster Shiloh claims is hunting Mouse). These alternating points of view flesh the story out without sacrificing the fast pace, and this story is quick. I finished Lost in Wonderland in a few hours. But, each alternating chapter changes drastically in style, which took some adjusting to. Mouse's chapters are first person, Rabbit's are third person, the Kushtaka's are an odd detached first person, and Shiloh's are third person. The styles and tenses change so quickly that I found myself stopping periodically to check where I was in the story. Mouse teams up with her brother Shiloh, who was institutionalized for claiming the Kushtaka monster killed their mother. He also has an imaginary friend, Mr. Custard, to help him keep things straight, but that's not helping his "I'm not insane" case. They head home to Alaska to save Rabbit from the Alaskan Abductor. . The story itself was graphic, there's a lot of blood, stabbing, and breaking of skulls. If you're squeamish beware. Strong, smart, and well-trained, Mouse still falls into the standard YA-heroine type. She is rail thin and "weak looking" by her own admission, despite Tlinget people being strong and thick. It would've been fantastic to have a character of a different body type represented instead of the standard model-esq look. Lost in Wonderland leads you through a thrilling crime story and slaps you with the possibility of magic and fantasy at the end. It's something I love in books. There's so much to read on for- what happens to Mouse? Is Shiloh actually crazy? How much fantasy exists in their world? Lost in Wonderland never stops racing between crime drama and fantasy madness. It's perfect for those with enough muchness who can keep up with the changing POV.
Posted by Cayce on 26th Aug 2016
I have been a huge lover of the Alice In Wonderland tale since I was a little girl. It was one of my favorite Disney Film adaptions, both the cartoon and Tim Burton’s take, and I have watched almost all of the live action film adaptions separate from Disney. The story of a young girl chasing a white rabbit carrying a pocket watch, trips and falls down a rabbit hole into a world filled with mind boggling characters speaking in riddles and poems that send you into a quizzical frame of mind any time you read the story. In Lost In Wonderland, it’s a much different take on the story. It’s not a different adaption, but it takes elements of the classic and transforms it into a darker, mystery narrative. Kayla and Shilo witnessed the murder of their mother and their fathers suicide at a young age. Shilo is institutionalized, driven mad by memory of the murder and the idea that their mother was murdered by an ancient monster called the Kushtaka. Kayla, on the other hand, gets a completely different fate. She is adopted by two ex-government agents who now train and send out children to hunt down serial killers. The Wonderland aspect comes into play with her new living situation. Her adoptive parents, along with her other two adopted siblings, are re-named after Alice In Wonderland characters and they frequently quote lines from the story. Even her adoptive parent’s daughter who had been murdered was named “Alice” and the man who started their operative is called “Hatter”. Now, they receive a new case about women and girls disappearing up in Alaska. The main territory coincidently is where Kayla and Shilo used to live when they were children. This sparks events to begin unravelling that makes Kayla wonder if Shilo was telling the truth about the Kushtaka after all. I enjoyed hearing the story from both Shilo and Kayla’s perspective. I will mention, though, that there were times I wanted to throttle Shilo. He began to annoy me at times. Yes, I understand he’s troubled because of the past but there are certain things he does continuously that make me wonder if he truly wanted to save his sister or not from the monster that killed their mother. Other than that, enjoyed the book and recommend it to all of you Wonderlanders out there!
Posted by Veronica on 26th Aug 2016
Definitely not your typical Wonderland! Yet amazing in every single way! Kayla, aka Mouse, was lost once upon a time, when she and her brother Shilo, followed her mother into the woods, causing her to grow up fast and with a vengeance. She now works alongside other Wonderlanders to put a stop to vicious killers. I loved everything about this book! From the wit of our main character, to the uniqueness that her brother brings, to the fun references to Alice In Wonderland, to all of the mystery, twists, and turns that this book has to offer, and there are a lot! And wait until you read about Mr. Custard! This is truly a fun, unique, and intriguing book. My recommendation: Don't miss this one!!
Posted by Samantha on 26th Aug 2016
: "You used to be much more...muchier. You've neglected your muchness, Mouse" For a book that is only 124 pages, it sure did contain a lot of information and action. Instead of being in the world of Wonderland, it is set in the United States and Wonderland is their organization to help the families who have lost loved ones. This is definitely the most interesting Alice in Wonderland retelling that I have read this year alone. Which is saying something since this seems to be the year for retelling Lewis Carroll's book. Kayla, aka Mouse, is our main protagonist who has a constant fear of being lost. She had a very tough childhood that has made her a little bitter towards her brother and a normal way of life. So how does she deal with all of that? She becomes a Wonderland operative and baits serial killers into taking her so that she can end their lives. When her brother comes back to try to save her, she just gets angry at him and blames him for most of her problems. "'No rest for the wicked,' Cheshire says with a grin." Throughout the entire book is references to the original Alice in Wonderland and it just helped the book become curiouser and curiouser. I thought it helped show that just about everyone is a little mad to be able to chase down serial killers and dispose of them. The only problem I saw in this book, was that it wasn't longer. I wish the author dragged out finding the killer in the end. For an event that shaped Kayla and Shilo's (her brother) life, it was over in one day. Kayla could have singled out the murderer after two days or at the very least gone into more than one store. In the end though, Shilo still told Kayla that the real monster is still out there and Kayla just doesn't believes him. So what does she do? Drops him off back at the insane asylum. It's not until she is leaving and has an encounter of her own that she realizes her brother might not be as crazy as everyone thinks he is. Which sets the series up perfectly for the next installment. "'But I don't want to go among mad people," I say. "Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad.'" If you need a short fast read, I definitely suggest picking this book up! You won't be disappointed in it.
Posted by Sascha on 26th Aug 2016
Imagine Joss Whedon's Dollhouse meets Criminal Minds meets Alice in Wonderland meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer sans vampires but with kickass Buffy and you might have a taste of what's in store for you with Nicky Peacock's Lost in Wonderland. Kayla and her big brother, Shilo, live with their parents in a small town in Alaska until their mother disappears. Shilo believes that she was taken by a monster. All evidence points to her running off with an ex-lover, which drives her husband to suicide leaving the kids behind. Shilo ends up in an institution where he talks to his imaginary friend, Mr. Custard. Kayla goes to live with one foster family who can't meet her needs and then goes to a second and becomes Mouse and part of Wonderland, an organization that uses covert intelligence and money from a Silicon Valley computer genius to track down human monsters and do what the police are unable to do. Lost in Wonderland is a fast paced, darkly humorous ride. Mouse makes a fabulous heroine in the tradition of Buffy. There are smart twists and not much is predictable. You find yourself completely involved and hanging on while this tale careerns towards its ending. I am already looking forward to more installments and hope that they are engaging as this one. This is classified as "thriller," but I would toss in YA paranormal and mystery as well. There is violence so it's geared for teens 14+. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Posted by Unknown on 26th Aug 2016
If you're looking for a sweet fairy tale retelling, this is not the book. But being a fairy tale fan, I was excited to get my hands on this one anyway, and it was well worth the reading ride. Kayla is a seventeen-year-old trained assassin who works with a highly specialized group named Wonderland. Their goal is to stop and eradicate those who kidnap young girls for horrible purposes. Kayla, aka Mouse, is very good at what she does and has a caring 'family' which watches over her. Her own history, including her older brother who's locked up in an insane asylum, is another matter altogether. This books grabs in the first scene and doesn't let go the entire way through. It's told mostly through Kayla's point of view, but also through her brother's and others. There's a lovely touch of uncertainty and mystery to it, which make it unclear what's real and what's not until the very end. Still for all the demented violence and slightly off-kilter personalities (some of which are really easy to adore), it's hard not to feel for Kayla and cheer for her the whole way through. In many ways, this is a cleverly written tale. The author weaves in phrases from the original Wonderland, making them fit perfectly into this deadly world. It's not a retelling, but still does an excellent job of showing parallels and disclosing some of the delicious insanity. There is violence and horrible situations, making it a little harsh for the lower end of the YA audience. And the scenes come across fairly realistic. The end rushes through a bit fast, missing some development but not enough to ruin the story by any means. It ends at a cliff hanger (a rushed one), and I'll be grabbing book two in hopes that it satisfies the missing links. Because this is definitely an adventure worth continuing. Albeit a dark one.
Showing reviews 1-10 of 24 | Next