cover image Queens of Wonderland

Queens of Wonderland

Gama Ray Martinez. Harper Voyager, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-301468-8

Martinez’s lackluster second Defenders of Lore fantasy novel (after 2022’s God of Neverland) has versions of J.M. Barrie’s creations interact with some of Lewis Carroll’s characters, but the conceit can’t make up for weak characterizations and an overreliance on uninspired action sequences. The Knights of the Round were established to protect humanity from “mystical threats.” Michael Darling, of Peter Pan fame, is demoted by that order, after his obsession with thwarting Captain Hook, who’s unleashed “an army of ghosts” on London, costs innocent lives. But even this won’t put him off Hook’s scent. His pursuit takes a surprising turn when Darling learns the pirate has crossed into Wonderland. Fortunately, the White Lady, a master of magical arts including divination and prophecy and one of the leaders of the Knights of the Round, agrees to accompany Darling and his friends into that realm and reveals herself to be an expert on Wonderland from her time spent there back when she went by Alice. The group encounters predictable dangers and only slightly reimagined takes on classic figures such as the Cheshire Cat. The result is an uninspired mash-up of well-loved worlds with little to say about any of them. (Apr.)