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April 19, 2016

P is for Prequel, Politics, and Paranormal #AtoZChallenge

review by Elisabeth Scherer

For the letter P we get to venture back into one of my favorite worlds - Wonderland. I know you are thinking - Wonderland does not start with P, but Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X. is a Prequel (there’s the P) to Frank Beddor’s best selling Looking Glass Wars series.

The LGW series is a spin on Alice in Wonderland where the Mad Hatter is Hatter Madigan - personal bodyguard to the queen of wonderland and her family. Alyss is the princess and she has gone missing through the Pool of Tears. Hatter Madigan pursues Alyss into our world but she has disappeared and he has to search across the globe to try to find her. In doing so he became the most traveled character of Wonderland. From books to graphic novels, the Looking Glass Wonderland world has developed over many formats and this latest book has moved back into my favorite, the novel form.

Hatter Madigan Ghost in the HATBOX
This newest book, which is out today (P is also for Pub Day!), has the readers follow a teen-aged Hatter Madigan as he starts his education at the Millinery Academy where he and his fellow Caps compete to become the next generation of spies, assassins, and bodyguards. Hatter has his sights set on being a spy in the Spade suit. Hatter’s mother, father, and brother were all bodyguards. In fact his brother was just promoted to the highest bodyguard position in Wonderland, protecting the royal Heart family. It is extra pressure on Hatter who is trying to pave a path of his own out from under the shadow of his popular, successful brother.

To make things even more complicated than normal teenage problems, Hatter begins seeing ghosts in the hallways at the academy, then students begin acting very strangely, and it all comes down to Hatter and his new friends to solve the mysteries surrounding the school before all the students are possessed.

Why this book:

I have been familiar with the many forms of Alice in Wonderland dating back to seeing the made for television movie back in 1985 starring Natalie Gregory and a long list of famous actors (Carol Channing’s white queen is my all time favorite). My interest continued in high school where I attended a state wide arts-centered school in MN where I did a scene study of Carol Channing’s white queen and Alice scene. The play for my class that year was Alice in Wonderland with a unique twist of having three Alices for the different parts of Alice’s psyche. Then fast forward to reading the Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, and Arch Enemy, and the Tim Burton movie that was released. Needless to say I love Alice and different angles on the beloved Wonderland characters.

What I thought about this book:

Frank Beddor has another best seller in Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X. The characters are genuine, the plot is mysterious and marvelous at the same time. The glimpse into another part of Wonderland satisfies the curious nature of people who like immense worlds to visit in books. Beddor uses such creative ways to incorporate Millinery terms into the training academy. There are glimpses of the person we know Hatter is going to become. The supporting characters are all unique and fleshed out to make the reader feel as if they are following a class through the ranks of school.

The school politics between the students was so real I could feel a pang in my chest for the kids that were picked on and a scowl for the kids that thought they were better than everyone else. Hatter has to deal with teenage hormones and emotions which for an average kid is hard but for a cap training at the academy where it is expected that stoicism is much more difficult. The school itself has wonderful secrets that I’ll leave you to experience for yourself when you read this book but I will say I think the entire place is brilliant.

If you are looking for something that rings of Hogwarts but is firmly rooted in the Wonderland lore I would recommend this book for you. It is labeled as a Middle grade reader but there is much to satisfy all ages in what I hope will be the first of many books.

Bonus content:

I recently met Frank Beddor at a author night at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington. While discussing his new Hatter book he dropped a tiny tidbit of trivia regarding some pop culture. My hint for that tidbit is - when you read his latest book can you spot the tribute to a certain John Hughes movie (also out in 1985) hiding in the storyline?  I didn’t but when he mentioned it, I totally got it!  Constant vigilance folks for that reference and any others I might have missed.

He also mentioned that the Looking Glass Wars series was ready for publication around the same time as another book series that took the world by storm. I have mentioned the book once in the post only as reference to books that include schools. It was interesting to note that he ended up publishing The Looking Glass Wars in the United Kingdom first, home to what we now have come learn from Frank, is the false version of the history of Alyss. Thank goodness he was able to ferret out the truth and we now know what really happened.

I will tell you that my favorite tea right now is Stash brand Licorice Spice. I love warm tea and cozy books to lose yourself in, Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X  is definitely one of those books. Now go brew yourself a pot of tea, delve down through the rabbit hole and enjoy the Wonderland I have come to hold dear.

A very happy birthday to you, Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X., Cheers with a delicious hot cup of tea to Frank Beddor, and to the rest of you a very merry unbirthday to all of you. Long Live Alyss!

Buy Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X. at Amazon

Elisabeth Scherer, reviewer. Elisabeth grew up in a very small town in Minnesota but now lives in the lovely Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time raising her two young children. She and her husband have a large collection of books that takes a good space of their small condo. When she's not reading she has a variety of hobbies that include crocheting, drawing, baking, cooking, and movie watching. She is currently training to run her first half marathon later this year! You can also find her blogging at

Book Info:
available formats:Hardcover (408 pages)
published: April 2016 by Automatic Publishing 
ISBN13: 978-0991272921
genre: fantasy, adventure
target audience: middle grades
source: author
read: April 2016

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