REVIEW: Down the Rabbit Hole anthology by J. D. Robb + more
Five authors play with an ALICE IN WONDERLAND theme in this widely diverse anthology of novellas.
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE kicks off with WONDERMENT IN DEATH by J. D. Robb, book 41.5 in her IN DEATH series. I haven’t read an IN DEATH book in several years but it didn’t take me long to reconnect with Eve and Roarke. I love the way they feed off one another with a sense of playfulness that only comes from couples who know each other well. I enjoy that comfortable feeling you only get when the main characters stay the same in a series.
The suspense built on the ALICE IN WONDERLAND’s quirky scenarios in WONDERMENT IN DEATH was very intriguing with a Mad Hatter eccentricity that’s fun. Those who haven’t read this series prior to this novella will recognize the appeal of this couple without feeling completely lost in not knowing their history. There were a few references that I questioned that fans of the IN DEATH series might understand, but it wasn’t anything that ruined the story for me.
I especially enjoyed Peabody’s reaction to Eve’s driving skills, or lack of, depending on whether you’re Eve or her passengers. This scene was the perfect example of a well-crafted passage where the reader gets an excellent sense of each character’s temperament that’s really amusing.
J.D. Robb’s writing style is a shorthand of sorts, with abbreviated thoughts from her characters that’s not as common in romantic fiction, but it works with her style of fast-paced suspense. WONDERMENT IN DEATH’s excitement kept me glued, plus the quirky and likeable characters made me laugh, creating an enjoyable novella I’ll remember.
ALICE AND THE EARL IN WONDERLAND by Mary Blayney introduces us to Bennet William George Haven West, the third Earl Weston, whose inheritance is on the verge of bankruptcy if he doesn’t do something quickly.
Alice Kemp finds herself next to Weston when they’ve apparently time-traveled into the future. Her first appalled thought is launched at the blue pantaloons she finds herself in, exposing the shape of her legs in a most inappropriate manner. A Mr. Arbuckle explains that their time travel from 1805 to 2005 was made possible by a magic coin.
As they explore this new unfamiliar world, Weston can’t help but think that some idea can be carried back to his time to solve his inheritance’s predicted failure. If he can only convince Alice to marry him, too.
I haven’t read many time-travels into the future so this story entertained me with the characters’ reaction to the modern world. ALICE AND THE EARL IN WONDERLAND is a cute story with a clever twist at the end.
ILOVE by Elaine Fox and A TRUE HEART by Mary Kay McComas didn’t intrigue me as much as the first two novellas. I didn’t feel connected to the characters and I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why I was having issues, other than the style and subject matter wasn’t working for me. I was expecting deeper characterization but the emphasis seemed fixated on the weirdness. I couldn’t stay focused, feeling jumbled myself, which made it difficult to finish each story.
FALLEN by R. C. Ryan takes us to the highlands of Scotland when Beth Campbell from New York is expected to close a property deal in order to keep her job. When her car breaks down and Beth falls into a hole, she’s rescued by the man she is supposed to convince to sell his property to her firm. But something isn’t right with the lodge where she lands. The place where she was supposed to go now seems barbaric and of another time, mixed up with groundogs, kittens and rabbits that talk. The humor is immediately felt when Beth Campbell lands on opposing clan Colin Gordan’s land. When Beth overhears a sinister plot against Colin and decides to warn him, will it prove she’s not the threat they suspect?
An entertaining story, FALLEN seemed to be the novella that most closely resembled what I expected from a book titled DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE. It was quirky and kept me wondering why all these people kept turning into animals. The animals cleverly matched each human’s personality and made me laugh. Did the knock on Beth’s head mess up her mind, or did she really land in another time zone? Not such a bad thing to happen when there’s a hunky highlander to rescue you. I most enjoyed the historical aspects of FALLEN in this pseudo time travel. R. C. Ryan painted a realistic historical picture with her words, with just enough oddball shenanigans to keep me entertained. I’ll be looking for more of her books, especially historical-fantasy mixed, in the future.
In conclusion, DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE seemed like a stimulating concept and an entertaining way to explore some new-to-me authors, but I didn’t grasp some of the stories as strongly as I had hoped. The ALICE IN WONDERLAND idea intrigued me, which drew me to this anthology, but unfortunately it didn’t fully meet my expectations. I’m not convinced that these novellas should have been published together because they’re not cohesive in their execution, style or length, so it seems unfair to compare them in a review. Since I’m a fan of anthologies with stories that flow into each other with themes or time periods that meld well, I got distracted and couldn’t settle in for a cover-to-cover read. All the authors show promise, but I think the eclectic sub-genre mixture didn’t mesh with my preferences.
An intriguing concept, DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE introduces readers to five interpretations which are widely varied and are sure to hit a couple of each reader’s preference with such a diverse collection.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies and The Zest Quest. Print ARC provided by the publisher.
Down the Rabbit Hole by Author: J. D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, R.C. Ryan
Category: Combination of futuristic, paranormal, fantasy, historical and contemporary.
Publisher: Jove (September 29, 2015)
Rated 3.5 out of 5
What types of anthologies do you enjoy?