Jul 5, 2011

Books for Lolitas: The Looking Glass Wars

With the first post of July I'm happy to announce the beginning of steampunk month. Why, you ask? Well, mostly because I can. So I'll be talking a bit about what it is and what makes something steampunk, as well as how to try the style for yourself.

Steampunk is a re-imagining of Victorian era containing modern technologies re-invented using the methods and power of the time. Namely clockwork and steam engines. The culture focuses on themes of invention, creativity, beautiful craftsmanship and a positive do-it-yourself spirit. The fashion of steampunk is wide and has very few rules to define it. It ranges from metal limbs, cropped tops, soot stains and portable engines to delicate dress and fine accessories not all that far removed from lolita aesthetics. But before it got that far it had a beginning.

Books. Because it all starts, as most wonderful things will, with books. Steampunk was a literary movement long before it became the fashion and culture it is now. Which means that today I've picked a very special book to review. Not only because it's deliciously steampunk and has to deal with Alice, but because it's a book that I picked up in a cute used bookshop during my honeymoon. And today just happens to be my anniversary. See. It all fits into place.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

I'm sure most lolitas are at the very least familiar with the story of Alice. She is, after all, the girl most people relate with the fashion outside of the obvious(-ly mistaken) namesake. Even those who have yet to read the original books (do it!) are familiar with images of the Hatter and his tea party, grinning cats and card soldiers. And these are all wonderful and whimsically charming.

This book dares you to think about what a real wonderland might be - if the story we all know was a retelling, and much mistaken at that. The story begins with a princess of this magical and inventive kingdom, who flees when her family is murdered. She finds herself in Victorian London. There she is adopted and relays her story to a kind man, who promptly puts it all incorrectly into a book. Events unfold as a grown Alyss finds her kingdom again and must relearn nearly everything about it.

Much of the story revolves around imagination and invention, key ingredients in any decent steampunk novel. The imagery of some of the contraptions have a lovely steampunk vibe as well, from clockwork card soldiers to top hat weaponry. Mixing these elements with re-imagined characters and images from classic Alice makes it, at least to my mind, a perfect intro to steampunk for lolita readers. I consider it my favorite steam-loli novel.


  1. I love this book. I picked it up at SDCC a few years ago before it was published in America. Such a good read! This is probably my favorite take on the Alice story. I started collecting Hatter M some time ago too, but I never got around to getting any issues after the 4th one ^^; It hadn't occurred to me how steampunk it was!

  2. This book is wonderful!! I loved the little twists that reworked "Alice" into a whole new story.I was actually inspired by this book to throw a Mad Hatter tea party/murder mystery.