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Monday, March 21, 2016

REVIEW: Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X. by Frank Beddor and Adrienne Kress

*Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a review!*

Expected publication: April 19, 2016

Authors Frank Beddor and Adrienne Kress explore the life of a teenage Hatter Madigan as he begins his training at the Millinery Academy.  Readers have grown to love Hatter throughout his role in the Looking Glass Wars series as well as graphic novels.  Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X. delves into the first phase of his training. Hatter feels the pressures to live up to expectations set by his parents, his highly successful older brother, Dalton, and other new cadets.

A mystery unfolds as ghosts seem to be lurking in corridors and other cadets begin behaving strangely.  Hatter and a group of cadets must unlock the mystery of these ghostly characters and their connection to their new training device, the H.A.T.B.O.X. before it is too late!

I've been a fan of Beddor's for a while now starting with the discovery of The Looking Glass Wars.  I adored the trilogy and its imaginativeness.  Despite being hard to physically get a hold of, I also sing the praises of the Hatter M centric graphic novels (The Looking Glass Wars, Mad with Wonder, The Nature of Wonder, Zen of Wonder, Love of Wonder). Those who know me best aren't surprised that I'm a sucker of anything inspired by Alice in Wonderland.  Beddor's work is outstanding with unparalleled creativity and high visual appeal.  Kress is equally talented and if you haven't read her steampunk adventure The Friday Society, you are missing out!

This series debut is ideal for middle school readers or as an addition for fans of the other books. The story is fast paced and creative and adds just enough of Carroll's classic to delve into an exciting reimagining of the original. The Mad Hatter as a highly trained and lethal bodyguard/spy who wields his hat as a weapon by the power of imagination is just too cool! I love all the other Wonderland references as well as the hierarchy of the card suits and their specializations.

Despite the surface retelling, there is great depth in the themes which will hold appeal to multiple readers.  This is a coming of age story.  Hatter is searching for his own identity and creating his own story. Another key theme is bullying.  Wonderland sets up a class hierarchy with the 'elite' looking down upon others.  Hatter hasn't grown up with this thinking and surprised by other cadets' behavior has to adjust and decide how he will behave for himself. Ultimately, he allies himself with the underdogs and calls out those who do the bullying.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the authors: @frankbeddor @AdrienneKress

#HatterMadigan #LookingGlassWars #AliceInWonderland #YAlit #netgalley #teen #books