Wonderland
If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining, it might look like this deliciously unsettling horror novel from the acclaimed author of Baby Teeth.A mother must protect her family from the unnatural forces threatening their new and improved life in a rural farmhouse.The Bennett family - artist parents and two precocious children - are leaving their familiar urban surroundings for a new home in far upstate New York. They're an hour from the nearest city, a mile from the nearest house, and everyone has their own room for the very first time. Shaw, the father, even gets his own painting studio, now that he and his wife Orla, a retired dancer, have agreed that it's his turn to pursue his passion.But none of the Bennetts expect what lies waiting in the lovely woods, where secrets run dark and deep. Orla must finally find a way to communicate with - not just resist - this unknown entity that is coming to her family, calling to them from the land, in the earth, beneath the trees... and in their minds.

Wonderland Details

TitleWonderland
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 14th, 2020
PublisherMulholland Books
ISBN-139780316458498
Rating
GenreHorror, Fiction, Adult, Thriller

Wonderland Review

  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    **3.5-stars**Upon her retirement from a professional ballet company in New York City, Orla is ready to settle in to care for her two sensitive children, Eleanor Queen and Tycho, while her artist husband, Shaw, gets his chance to focus on his work.Up until this point, Shaw has been the main caregiver for the children, as Orla's career required long hours outside of the home. A sacrifice he was more than willing to make, but now wants his time.The couple decide to move to Northern New York, an rem **3.5-stars**Upon her retirement from a professional ballet company in New York City, Orla is ready to settle in to care for her two sensitive children, Eleanor Queen and Tycho, while her artist husband, Shaw, gets his chance to focus on his work.Up until this point, Shaw has been the main caregiver for the children, as Orla's career required long hours outside of the home. A sacrifice he was more than willing to make, but now wants his time.The couple decide to move to Northern New York, an remote area closer to where Shaw grew up. Orla is ready for a change and making a clean break from her dance life.Bonus that the open space and slower lifestyle will be good for the children. Plus, the beauty of nature is really what Shaw wants to encapsulate with his art.After purchasing an old farmhouse with plenty of acreage, far from civilization, they make their move. It's already the holiday season and snow covers the ground, giving the children something exciting to focus on.It seems to be exactly what they wanted, until it's not.The seclusion quickly gets to them and mysterious events start occurring on the property. And by mysterious, I mean, freaky as heck, like the appearance of the Aurora Borealis, 10-feet of snow falling in one night, and the trees creeping closer to the house.Additionally, Shaw and Eleanor Queen both seem to be channeling some sort of powerful energy from the woods. It's all a bit overwhelming.When things turn dangerous, Orla must do whatever she can to protect her family from the entity trying to trap them.Dark and dangerous, this book explores some weighty and thought-provoking subjects.Wonderland is a slow burn and one that you need some time to think about. It's a quiet story in way. I think the longer I sit with this, the more I will grow to appreciate it.The quality of Stage's writing, cannot be denied. I love it, but also realize this book will not be for everyone.I do feel the end dragged a lot more than it needed too and began to feel monotonous because of that.Overall though, I think this is a wildly creative and thoughtful story. I will keep coming back for anything she writes.Thank you so much to the publisher, Mulholland Books, for providing me a copy to read and review. I genuinely appreciate it!
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    There's a sentence about halfway through Wonderland where the mother thinks if they could only get away safely she'd let her son Tycho sing "The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round," a song they'd always discouraged him from singing because of its "annoying repetition." This was my favorite sentence in the book because it's so ironic it made me laugh out loud. I had high hopes for this horror novel because people I trust love Baby Teeth, but I think I would have preferred reading 350+ pages of There's a sentence about halfway through Wonderland where the mother thinks if they could only get away safely she'd let her son Tycho sing "The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round," a song they'd always discouraged him from singing because of its "annoying repetition." This was my favorite sentence in the book because it's so ironic it made me laugh out loud. I had high hopes for this horror novel because people I trust love Baby Teeth, but I think I would have preferred reading 350+ pages of "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" because it could be less annoying than Wonderland.The publisher has compared this to Shirley Jackson mixed with The Shining. So think of "The Haunting of Hill House." Then subtract from it all of the suspense, the multidimensional characters, the erotic undertones and every bit of scary stuff. Now think of The Shining. Erase Jack and REDRUM and the twins and the blood on the walls and the ghosts in the bar and the hedge maze and anything else that was horrifying, terrifying and entertaining. Just take the frights and the fun out of both and you're almost at Wonderland. Why publishers make these inappropriate comparisons I don't know. They're setting up the reader and the author too. Try it. Here's one: I recommend reading one of my favorite books, Nabokov's Pale Fire, because it's so remarkably like Charlie Brown comics compilations and Thus Spoke Zarathustra.I don't doubt Baby Teeth is a really great book. This isn't even a good book, it's a horridly boring and frequently ridiculous book. It's about a family that moves from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks, to an isolated home. The wife was a ballet dancer, which if you read this you will be told a hundred times at least. The husband, who is from kind of around there, wants to paint. They want their kids to grow up with fresh air and nature. (Note: I grew up in NYC and, you know, there's summer camp and summer homes and rentals and day trips. Just saying: they could have practiced.) The kids have weird names: a little boy named Tycho and his older sister Eleanor Queen who takes the crown for most annoying character name I've yet to encounter. Their names will be repeated a thousand times although Eleanor Queen's feels like ten thousand at least. Eleanor Queen was annoying the first time and I kept hoping her mother the ballet dancer would call her EQ or any nickname, Girl would have been fine but nope, it's the full Eleanor Queen for the full book in which not much happens so you really, really notice the repetition of Eleanor Queen and Tycho over and over because you're reading what they have for breakfast, lunch and dinner and what they wear and how they sleep and every move they make and every thought their parents, especially the mother who was a ballet dancer and is a total bore, have about Eleanor Queen and Tycho. Eleanor Queen and Tycho, Eleanor Queen, Tycho, Tycho, Eleanor Queen, if you're not exasperated yet please teach me patience. Because they live in a book I wanted to throw Eleanor Queen and Tycho across the room. But it's not their fault the author named them that and an editor didn't have the sense to say, um, how about Jack and Jill or something easier since you're going to have these names in every other sentence.There's the family, the house, the giant tree and the snow and nothing much happens. I didn't like the parents and I was so incredibly sick of reading Eleanor Queen and Tycho. The tree is supposed to be menacing, the snow is supposed to be menacing except they're not because everything moves so slowly and the narrative is so boring there's no suspense and most of it makes no sense. I wish I had't bothered to finish because there's no payoff and as I write there's a genuinely unnerving pandemic going on and this collection of sentences about oooh, big scary tree that has very nothing much happening and stars Tycho and Eleanor Queen, that never once frightened me, was a EMIT YM FO ETSAW.
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  • Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestZoje Stage seems to be taking things that most people like and find wholesome and turning them into objects of horror. Children? Check. Nature? Check. What's next... bake sales? Dogs? Sunsets? Whatever she picks, I'm sure I'll find it totally validating, because this book reminded me why I hate camping and hiking so much. Nature can be creepy. I don't think I've ever been so freaked out by trees since I read UPROOTED by Naomi Novik.This Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestZoje Stage seems to be taking things that most people like and find wholesome and turning them into objects of horror. Children? Check. Nature? Check. What's next... bake sales? Dogs? Sunsets? Whatever she picks, I'm sure I'll find it totally validating, because this book reminded me why I hate camping and hiking so much. Nature can be creepy. I don't think I've ever been so freaked out by trees since I read UPROOTED by Naomi Novik.This book is about a family that ends up moving to the middle of nowhere so the husband, Shaw, can paint. His wife, Orla, is a retired ballerina and now that her star has faded, she's going to be the one taking care of the kids in their reclusive cabin in the woods. But what first seems like a rustic and charming idyll quickly starts to become uneasy and horrifying as the family starts to see things that can't be explained... like lights, strange weather, and other phenomena that defy rational explanations, but somehow seem to be tied to the mysterious white pine on their property. And then, things start to get really, really twisted......Like a tree root! LOL jk.  For the first 75% of the book, I was deliberating on giving this book 5 stars. Stage captures in this book the ambient horror that made Ira Levin such a lasting read. You don't need blood and body counts to make a horror novel good; the atmosphere in this book is fantastic. Regardless of what you end up deciding about WONDERLAND, it is, unquestionably, a better book than BABY TEETH. The character development is more refined, it is less cheesy horror movie and more Kubrickian, and the writing is much more mature-- and even lyrical in some parts. I liked this a lot more, and found it way less frustrating than I did BABY TEETH, which felt like a bad 80s horror movie at times.The last 25% of this book got a little weird. And I don't want to say any more about it, because I don't want to spoil the ending, but to explain why this didn't end up getting a more solid 4 stars from me, or even a five, I want to tell you about this movie called The Langoliers, which is one of Stephen King's lesser-known projects. It's a horror movie that is filled with pulse-pounding, spine-chilling build-up, which is ruined in an instant during the grand reveal where you are treated to some truly heinous CGI. I have a shelf on Goodreads called "The Langoliers Effect" where I shelve horror novels whose effects are slightly tarnished by their reveals, and I feel like that is slightly the case here. It doesn't spoil the book but it does get kind of weird, and not necessarily in the good kind of way.If you enjoy Ira Levin or M. Night Shyamalan 's good movies, I think you will like this. The atmosphere is nicely crafted and the writing is great and it is so freaking creepy. Even if you didn't like her first book, BABY TEETH, I would still urge you to give this one a try, as it's quite a different book from her first, and she's improved so much between then and now that I'm really excited for whatever she decides to put out there next, because I'm sure it will be even better.P.S. The children are named Eleanor Queen and Tycho and the parents are named Shaw and Orla. Wot.Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  3.5 to 4 stars
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  • Jasmine from How Useful It Is
    January 1, 1970
    I always plow into a story without knowing anything about it but because I have read this author's debut, I have a certain expectation and this story is different. Definitely interesting about small space living versus big space living. Orla's family used to live in NY in their cramped apartment where they are always in each other's face. Now they are living in the country in a big farmhouse with the kids sleeping in separate rooms, she worries that her family will grow apart. I like Orla's hear I always plow into a story without knowing anything about it but because I have read this author's debut, I have a certain expectation and this story is different. Definitely interesting about small space living versus big space living. Orla's family used to live in NY in their cramped apartment where they are always in each other's face. Now they are living in the country in a big farmhouse with the kids sleeping in separate rooms, she worries that her family will grow apart. I like Orla's heart to heart talks with her daughter. The words flow by fast to me but the story seems to slow with the narrator feeling regret for her move and her thinking a far range of explanations for unexplained happenings.
This book is told in the third person point of view following Orla, retired ballet dancer, as she and her husband Shaw, 38, their daughter Eleanor Queen, 9 and son Tycho, 4 are driving to rural Adirondacks, relocating away from New York city. The move was for Shaw's benefit because he wanted to be with nature for his interest in painting. Despite Orla feeling anxiety about living out of nowhere, she kept it to herself and agreed to move to make her husband happy. Upon arrival, both her daughter and Orla were spooked. Soon the family started seeing things that weren't there like aurora borealis. It might be hallucinations due to well water, the land being haunted, or something else.
Wonderland is a different read compared to the author's debut. This book should be categorized as more of a paranormal or magical realism story instead of thriller. That ending, definitely not what I have expected, but I liked it. The read is creepy at times. I think if there was another view of the anonymous "It" then the story would go by faster or at least kept me hooked longer. I was getting tired of Orla's view by chapter 28. Her reactions are realistic and in any given situations, anyone would react the same. One view just makes me feel the narrative is lengthy. I like the nature aspects of this book, though I'm a city girl and would never choose to live in a secluded place ever.xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details ***Many thanks to Little Brown Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I will murder someone for a copy of this arc. I'm kidding. Or am I??? 😈
  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes you step out and read something a little different than your norm...Did you read Baby Teeth, Zoje’s Stage’s last book? I did not. Too chicken. Do you ever read thrillers with just a touch of horror? I don’t usually, thinking horror is not my thing. Some are even calling Wonderland a dark fantasy, and I get it. While not a typical horror or fantasy reader, I recently read The Ancestor and loved it, so I wanted to give Wonderland a try, and I was not disappointed.The Bennett family moves Sometimes you step out and read something a little different than your norm...Did you read Baby Teeth, Zoje’s Stage’s last book? I did not. Too chicken. Do you ever read thrillers with just a touch of horror? I don’t usually, thinking horror is not my thing. Some are even calling Wonderland a dark fantasy, and I get it. While not a typical horror or fantasy reader, I recently read The Ancestor and loved it, so I wanted to give Wonderland a try, and I was not disappointed.The Bennett family moves from the city to upstate New York. Very upstate. The closest house is a mile away with tons of privacy in the middle of the woods. Something is calling to the family. This book is CREEPY. I had to suspend disbelief as I often do with thrillers in order to get the most out of it.Once the family moves, there are weather changes. It’s hard to know if things are really happening, or if they are hallucinations. Is it the house? Is it what’s outside? Just let go and be prepared to get lost in this dark, dark world.I’ll never look at a tree the same way again! 😱I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own.Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
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  • Bridgett
    January 1, 1970
    Well, that was a huge struggle. Okay, friends, I'm just going to go there...no beating around the bush. This story was dull in every imaginable way. I actually contemplated not finishing it--something I rarely do, but holy crap, the repetition. I would read five percent on my Kindle...then give myself a pep talk to read five more. It was tedious.I will say this...the prose was lovely and Zoje Stage absolutely nailed the setting. I felt as though I was personally living in this old, rundown Well, that was a huge struggle. Okay, friends, I'm just going to go there...no beating around the bush. This story was dull in every imaginable way. I actually contemplated not finishing it--something I rarely do, but holy crap, the repetition. I would read five percent on my Kindle...then give myself a pep talk to read five more. It was tedious.I will say this...the prose was lovely and Zoje Stage absolutely nailed the setting. I felt as though I was personally living in this old, rundown cabin in the middle of the Adirondacks. She perfectly captured the dark, foreboding environment, as well as the feelings of the characters as they adjusted to their new lives... ...but that's where my happy thoughts end... Wonderland was horribly slow, painfully repetitive, and the conclusion was bizarre--but not in a good way. And don't even get me started on the children's names. If I have to read Eleanor Queen or Tycho one more time...I think I may scream. I loved Baby Teeth, and I've been eagerly anticipating Stage's sophomore offering for the past 2 years...but man, what a disappointment. AVAILABLE NOW! 1.5 stars
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  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    Hooray! Another semi-unpopular review is on its way! When I read the definition of the book: if Shirley Jackson wrote Shining, it might look like this: I chant: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”and after getting rejections from NG, I still kept my composure ( I didn’t throw anything or jumped on coffee table and cried as I asked myself “why, why, why the publishers hate me so much!”I am not a drama queen, right? Okay, I jumped on coffee table but after ugly crying session later, I performed tap dance. See! I can Hooray! Another semi-unpopular review is on its way! When I read the definition of the book: if Shirley Jackson wrote Shining, it might look like this: I chant: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”and after getting rejections from NG, I still kept my composure ( I didn’t throw anything or jumped on coffee table and cried as I asked myself “why, why, why the publishers hate me so much!”I am not a drama queen, right? Okay, I jumped on coffee table but after ugly crying session later, I performed tap dance. See! I can be optimistic! ), waited till its release date, excitedly started as soon as my book arrived. Well, of course: cabin in the woods in the middle of Adirondacks, Poltergeist meets Conjuring and Shining kind of eerie story premise is dreamy combination. So what could get wrong? Well, I tell you what’s wrong when I’m giving more details about story.A cute family: part of four: living in a shoe box size, extra close encounters of the family kind NY house, living each other’s face, needing for a change not to choke each other. Okay, I over exaggerated but they actually need a bigger place.So Orla (mother), retired ballet dancer, Shawn who wants to sharpen his painting skills ( fingers crossed, moving into rural area, in the middle of nowhere doesn’t make him dull boy and sharpening his skills to throw at axes), sweet children who have worst unimaginative and meaningless names (Eleanor Queen and Tycho?!? Poor children should sue their parents to ruin their childhood.) Eleanor is 9 and little Tycho is 4. As soon as they decide to move their bigger, spacier but also creepier place, the weather starts to change and weird things start to happen put them in a position not to differentiate the reality and hallucinations. Yes, most parts of the book is blurry, confusing, brain cell frying kind of questioningly indecisive. I personally adore bleak, eerie, high tension horror meets paranormal genre stories but this book was too slow, too boring and too depressingly exhausting. You feel like you are trapped in a same circle and nothing new comes out! Everything repeats itself! It could have been shorter and the pace could have been faster. And of course outcome of the story was nonsense for me. I enjoyed Baby Teeth. It was disturbing but smart, gripping debut. I can empathize with the author’s decision to choose writing on a different genre. But honestly this slow, ultra confusing, illogical direction of story didn’t fit my expectations. I’m giving 2.5 stars and rounding them up for the promising beginning but unfortunately this is not my cup of Bourbon. Yes, I need a stronger drink after reading the ending and wiping away my frustration.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    This is an utterly bizarre and lyrical and sometimes downright beautiful book that defies comparison to anything else I have read. While it’s clear it takes inspiration from The Shining, it’s nothing like The Shining and is much more feminine in tone (hence perhaps the Shirley Jackson comparisons, but it’s not like her voice either to me).I LOVED Baby Teeth and was beyond excited for this book, but let me say it is entirely different from Baby Teeth. This book has a really intense and unique sen This is an utterly bizarre and lyrical and sometimes downright beautiful book that defies comparison to anything else I have read. While it’s clear it takes inspiration from The Shining, it’s nothing like The Shining and is much more feminine in tone (hence perhaps the Shirley Jackson comparisons, but it’s not like her voice either to me).I LOVED Baby Teeth and was beyond excited for this book, but let me say it is entirely different from Baby Teeth. This book has a really intense and unique sense of atmosphere and spookiness. The plot itself is very uneven and difficult to comprehend at times, getting a little too caught up in its own Wonderland, as it were. The metaphors were at times beyond translation to me. While there was much I loved about it, I also found certain aspects of its (or should I say, Its) language and inner logic uneven and frustrating. I could not even begin to summarize the plot here, aside from: a retired dancer moves to the wilderness with her family and crazy haunted things ensue.The best advice I can give you is that if you’re the kind of person who likes atmosphere and lyricism and creepy visions, and if you don’t necessarily require a linear plot, you will probably like this. If you like David Lynch, for example, or surrealist paintings - and I do - then you might be into this. Most folks though will require somewhat more of a linear, more concrete plot along with the atmosphere and freaky visionary stuff.Another piece of advice is that not a lot happens in the first 40 percent of the book. You really have to stick with it for things to get freaky, but then when they do, you’re off to the races.This writer is indisputably incredibly talented and I am glad I read this book. It gave me lots of Feelings. But I do wish its/Its story had been grounded in a little more practicality and plot the way Baby Teeth was.A wild, weird and often lovely book by an extremely talented writer. Despite its flaws I was haunted by it and continue to love Zoje Stage’s gorgeous style of writing. Like Hitchcock had his Alma and David Lynch had his Mary, I hope that as she continues her work, Stage can work with an editor who can make her awesome talents and ideas slightly more linear and accessible to readers without losing her incredible vision.Thanks to Mulholland Books, Zoje Stage and NetGalley for the ARC of this chilling (literally) book:
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  • Zoje Stage
    January 1, 1970
    For anyone who may have missed the updates: Due to the pandemic WONDERLAND's release date has been pushed back to July 14, 2020. We apologize for making you wait, but the decision was made to allow us all to get better adjusted to living in a world with Covid 19. Stay well! And happy reading!
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    Got up to 100 pages and couldn’t push through anymore. Between the slow pacing and the ridiculous names of the characters being taken seriously, I’m done. Hopefully someone can tell me if it ends nicely!
  • Laura Rash
    January 1, 1970
    Creepy AF! The description of “Shirley Jackson meets The Shining” is completely accurate. All the vibes of both are in this book and it evolves into something even scarier. Many thanks to the author for this early copy for review
  • Kitten Kisser
    January 1, 1970
    While I didn't expect this to be her first novel 'Baby Teeth' I did expect to at least like it (hoped I'd love it like I loved Baby Teeth). Maybe it wasn't creepy to me because I live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere? Maybe it wasn't creepy because I'm used to living back to the land with satellite for internet? Maybe it wasn't creepy because it was boring. Yeah, I think that's it. Oh wait, let's not forget repetitive. Should I repeat that last sentence perhaps in a slightly different way for While I didn't expect this to be her first novel 'Baby Teeth' I did expect to at least like it (hoped I'd love it like I loved Baby Teeth). Maybe it wasn't creepy to me because I live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere? Maybe it wasn't creepy because I'm used to living back to the land with satellite for internet? Maybe it wasn't creepy because it was boring. Yeah, I think that's it. Oh wait, let's not forget repetitive. Should I repeat that last sentence perhaps in a slightly different way for you? Would you find my review more enjoyable if I did? Yea, I didn't think so.Big house in the woods with a huge awesome tree. Daughter with the awful name of Elanor Queen (that is her first name, two names for her first name) is immediately freaked out by the area. She's just overly sensitive. The youngest, their son, Tycho is a happy go lucky soul. So happy go lucky he comes across as being rather dimwitted or "slow" even though he is not. The artsy/craftsy father, Shaw was somewhat worthless in NY. He was the stay at home Dad (which is fine) who occasionally found work here & there (lame). The lead character Orla is a retired ballerina & co-op owner. She is the bread winner. Throughout the whole book her ballerina self is constantly thrust upon the reader. It was interesting in the beginning, but really, enough already. They are in the woods. Sold the co-op, it's Shaw's turn to be the lead parent & breadwinner. He's drawing & painting & acting all together weird at times. The reader is expected to believe that they are a very tight family unit because they managed to survive living in Manhattan in a 600 sq ft apartment all these years. Yet I never got any sense that they were the tight unit I was told they were. They all were incredibly distant from one another. Although some effort was given to try to connect the reader with the characters, I never really cared about them. What I cared about was I wanted some flippn' progress in this darn book. When is something really going to happen aside from feelings? I feel something, the weather is peculiar. Rinse & repeat. Then finally! Oh boy finally! A true shocker happens! Then back to feelings & weather & wanting to leave, but not being able to leave. If I forgot to mention it before, there is a lot about how the characters feel & how they want to leave. Did you know the characters can't figure out what is going on? It's a feeling that they have, they even chat about it. They would also like to leave. Oh yes, & the weather, it's strange, so it is.Okay, are you still reading my boring, annoying, repetitive review? Well, if you've stuck around this long, you just might like this book! But let me warn you, nothing really happens except for the one shocker. The end is supposed to be creepy but it's not. I am so sorry I decided to read this book. I'm so happy I'm done reading it.If you really have your heart set on reading this because you just loved 'Baby Teeth' do yourself a favor & check it out at the library first before you hand over your hard earned cash. You just might thank me that you did.
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  • Erin A. Craig
    January 1, 1970
    What a stunning sophomore book! Stage masterfully takes the reader through this chilling tale, hitting you hard in the gut as the dread and tension rises ever higher. I was nauseous, fearful, and loved every minute of it.
  • Elle's Book Blog
    January 1, 1970
    Release Date: July 14, 2020 Actual Rating: 2 stars Horror | Supernatural Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. I enjoyed Baby Teeth last year and was really excited to read this one, but it veered too far from the norm for me and I found much of it to be a little to whacky. I liked the first half of the book; getting to know the family, watching them move out of the city and into the country (wholly different from what they are used to) and some of the creepy things that begin to occur. How Release Date: July 14, 2020 Actual Rating: 2 stars Horror | Supernatural Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. I enjoyed Baby Teeth last year and was really excited to read this one, but it veered too far from the norm for me and I found much of it to be a little to whacky. I liked the first half of the book; getting to know the family, watching them move out of the city and into the country (wholly different from what they are used to) and some of the creepy things that begin to occur. However, at about 50 percent the book took a (wrong) turn and instead of being creeped out I felt underwhelmed. This book is not truly a haunted house book like I thought when I read the first half of the book. It’s more supernatural and fantasy like in the final half and the characters who were once likeable became completely unlikable. It just felt weird to me. Now, some readers are sure to love this one as it’s truly unique . Unfortunately, I’m just not one of those people. I recommended reading some other reviews before making the decision as to whether this book would be a good fit for you.
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  • Janelle Janson
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come but let me just say it’s nothing like Shirley Jackson’s work or The Shining.
  • Alma Katsu
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderland shows the terror lurking below the surface of domestic bliss, when we realize our familiar and cozy world may not be as it seems. Zoje Stage is one of the few writers who can make the supernatural feel totally, dangerously real.
  • Mandy McHugh
    January 1, 1970
    Baby Teeth is one of the first books I picked up after I joined the horror and #writingcommunity on Twitter, and I've been a big fan of Stage since. So when I saw Wonderland available on NetGalley, I immediately requested it and was thrilled to be approved. I mean, look at that cover. Striking. I couldn't wait to dive in. After retiring from a lifelong ballet career, Orla and her family move to a remote house in the Adirondacks so her husband, Shaw, can pursue his artistic ambitions and their ch Baby Teeth is one of the first books I picked up after I joined the horror and #writingcommunity on Twitter, and I've been a big fan of Stage since. So when I saw Wonderland available on NetGalley, I immediately requested it and was thrilled to be approved. I mean, look at that cover. Striking. I couldn't wait to dive in. After retiring from a lifelong ballet career, Orla and her family move to a remote house in the Adirondacks so her husband, Shaw, can pursue his artistic ambitions and their children, Eleanor Queen and Tycho, can experience the rustic upbringing they've never had. But the house and land are far from what they imagined, and when they discover that something is lurking in the woods, they have to confront their fears head on.Let me start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a lot going on in spite of the quiet, introspective nature of the MC: relationship issues, motherhood issues, adjusting to a new lifestyle, difficult life transitions, childhood traumas, not to mention supernatural forces, a possibly malevolent being, and a house built in an area used for tuberculosis cure cottages. Orla is an interesting character, and in her, I saw a lot of myself: balancing being a good mother and needing to find fulfillment in something other than motherhood, supporting her husband and questioning the depth of his dedication, and perhaps most of all, wariness of nature--this one, I feel, is more prevalent as the weather is getting nicer here, and I have to face my fear of bugs in order to play with my kids outside. I live in upstate NY and I'm no stranger to the ADKs, and Stage did an excellent job creating the eerie unbalance of moving from the city to the wilderness where the closest pizza shop is half an hour away. I also chuckled at Orla's predicament on a pandemic level, as she adjusts to only being with her family for days on end, but such is life in quarantine. You take enjoyment where you can get it lol.Without giving too much away, this book is quiet yet powerful and deeply unnerving. The silence itself becomes a character, as does nature, the house, and your own judgment of the situation. You are forced into the story, questioning Orla's choices, but at the same time, swimming in ambiguity of whether you would act differently if put in her shoes. As a parent, we think we listen to our children, but our engagement comes from a place where we think we know better. We're adults with complete cognitive abilities and a bigger frame of reference, so of course we do, but in Wonderland, none of that matters. There are higher powers, intangible thought processes, and a Whitman-esque mindset where one person contains multitudes. I will say that if you're expecting a high-octane, edge-of-your-seat scarefest, this might not be the book for you. Reading this felt a little like watching The VVitch or Midsommar, where everything is deeply unsettling but you can't put your finger on why--until you can. There are a lot of unexplained answers and things happen because they do and can and you might not get that hard-locked closure (a fact I loved). Dozens of tiny horrific explosions, but their disasters are emotional wreckage and reflection instead of killer carnage. I loved Stage's exploration of mental fortitude and mother/child relationships.Overall, Wonderland is an atmospheric, artistic nightmare you won't want to miss. Big thanks to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.
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  • D.M. Pulley
    January 1, 1970
    Hauntingly beautiful and scary as hell, Wonderland takes you deep into the woods of one woman’s mind and her harrowing struggle to save her children.
  • Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining...I'll gladly sign my soul away for this book, thanks. If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining...I'll gladly sign my soul away for this book, thanks.
  • Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
    January 1, 1970
    “If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining” is certainly a way to pique my interest about a book since I love both of those things. But that means my expectations are high, and this book could not land farther from that claim. I suppose you could say it is like The Shining in the sense that all books set in a wintry landscape are like The Shining. But that doesn’t make up for the lack of tension, interesting family dynamics, and just plain great writing and storytelling of King’s book. I don’t see th “If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining” is certainly a way to pique my interest about a book since I love both of those things. But that means my expectations are high, and this book could not land farther from that claim. I suppose you could say it is like The Shining in the sense that all books set in a wintry landscape are like The Shining. But that doesn’t make up for the lack of tension, interesting family dynamics, and just plain great writing and storytelling of King’s book. I don’t see the comparison to Jackson at all. This book isn't gothic and it doesn't have any sort of unique style to the writing that would warrant such a claim.The story began strong for me, with an interesting set-up. The narrative took its time with the Bennett family and getting them to isolation. The strange things begin small, so small they are easy to pass off and not consider red flags. Though it is obvious that there is something supernatural/extranormal going on, I liked how the events were measured out so that it was more believable that the family would have not tried to escape sooner. I love some crazy supernatural stuff as much as the next weirdo. But even in the parts that I liked, this book felt so unfocused—and endlessly repetitive—to me. How many times do we have to hear about her being a ballerina? Even the tension and fighting between the parents felt manufactured just so there would be a sense of heightened drama for a page or two. Things that were supposed to be shocking only felt confusing, or I saw them coming from a mile away. There are only so many times it can snow insane amounts before I’m not impressed. And the ending felt entirely unfinished and was more than unsatisfying. I was not a fan of Baby Teeth, but I wanted to be able to give this author another go. Unfortunately, this one wasn't for me.My thanks to Mullholland for my copy of this one to read and review.
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  • Jules ✨
    January 1, 1970
    you had me at if shirley jackson wrote the shining.i don't need to know anything else.
  • Nancy Bilyeau
    January 1, 1970
    A Tense and Original StoryA family of four decides to leave New York City for a remote house in the Adirondacks, where the husband of a retired ballerina will take over as breadwinner. Shades of The Shining, but this family is considerably more loving and connected. From the beginning, there are strange things to be seen and experienced outside the house. The tension builds slowly and steadily with some horrifying jolts as the story ratchets up. This novel may hold special significance to the Ne A Tense and Original StoryA family of four decides to leave New York City for a remote house in the Adirondacks, where the husband of a retired ballerina will take over as breadwinner. Shades of The Shining, but this family is considerably more loving and connected. From the beginning, there are strange things to be seen and experienced outside the house. The tension builds slowly and steadily with some horrifying jolts as the story ratchets up. This novel may hold special significance to the New York City families seeking to leave for the country due to the pandemic. A disturbing and provocative story.
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  • Rea Frey
    January 1, 1970
    Well, Zoje has done it again. First, she did it with a psychotic child in Baby Teeth, and now it's with NATURE in Wonderland. When a city family moves to the remote woods, there are plenty of reservations about being isolated. What could go wrong, right? How about everything? Thanks to this book, now I'm afraid of trees, psychotic children, magic, ghost stories, families, polar bears, shotguns, and my own shadow. #thankszoje A terrifically terrifying must-read. Wonderland is a horrific masterpie Well, Zoje has done it again. First, she did it with a psychotic child in Baby Teeth, and now it's with NATURE in Wonderland. When a city family moves to the remote woods, there are plenty of reservations about being isolated. What could go wrong, right? How about everything? Thanks to this book, now I'm afraid of trees, psychotic children, magic, ghost stories, families, polar bears, shotguns, and my own shadow. #thankszoje A terrifically terrifying must-read. Wonderland is a horrific masterpiece.
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  • Cassie-Traveling Sister-
    January 1, 1970
    Going In know that this book is very different than her previous book! I would describe this more as a dark fantasy read not so much a thriller! Once I wrapped my head around what I was reading I was lost in the story line and the characters. Orla a former ballerina and her husband Shaw an artist with their two children Eleanor and Tycho decide to leave the city and their tiny manhattan apartment behind and move to a house in the middle of nowhere in the upstate New York. Hoping to focus more on Going In know that this book is very different than her previous book! I would describe this more as a dark fantasy read not so much a thriller! Once I wrapped my head around what I was reading I was lost in the story line and the characters. Orla a former ballerina and her husband Shaw an artist with their two children Eleanor and Tycho decide to leave the city and their tiny manhattan apartment behind and move to a house in the middle of nowhere in the upstate New York. Hoping to focus more on his painting Shaw thinks this is the perfect move. As soon as they move in they notice the odd sudden weather changes, the creepy feelings or the hallucinations . Soon Shaw and their daughter Eleanor begin to hear things. They begin to feel like it’s not the house that’s haunted it’s the nature outside trying to keep them in the house. Such as the snow that covers the house by morning or the wind so they cannot see. As they begin to be trapped, the tensions rise and Orla sees she needs to do everything possible to save her family from whatever is outside their new home! I give this four stars!
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. For some of us, it's a great time to read a horror novel. It's weirdly comforting to have terrible things that you can contain and access however you choose. But everyone has their "Too Real" and if a book where portions of it involve a family unable to leave their house with their young children, well, maybe leave this one for when that isn't too close to your life. (Also if a book where children are under threat is too much for you, this is a no go.)About a third of the way through 3.5 stars. For some of us, it's a great time to read a horror novel. It's weirdly comforting to have terrible things that you can contain and access however you choose. But everyone has their "Too Real" and if a book where portions of it involve a family unable to leave their house with their young children, well, maybe leave this one for when that isn't too close to your life. (Also if a book where children are under threat is too much for you, this is a no go.)About a third of the way through this book, I couldn't figure out what its deal was. It was a steady drumbeat of dread, sure, but I couldn't figure out where the remaining bulk of the book was going to go. I was worried it would just be more and more of the same. Fortunately it takes more than one turn, and while none of them are wholly unexpected, they are enough to pivot everything around enough that my worries were quieted. I suspect a reader who doesn't have quite as strong of an eye-roll reaction to the "city people move to the country" trope would not have anywhere near the same experience I did. To me, the early sections of the book get bogged down in the move too much, with Orla going through the same patterns over and over, but the book really hit its stride around halfway through.I wanted a little more from it, we get deep into Orla's head, which I like, but there were a few elements that felt underexplored. Especially as she's transitioning not just from decades in New York City to living practically off the grid, but that she's also transitioning from being primary breadwinner to primary caretaker, a difficult and complex thing. It's also a book where the children are Book Children, those smarter-than-their-age, extra-sensitive, who basically talk like adults that are in every book. (They're in every book so it's not like I can call out this book specifically, but the kids have a lot of time on the page so it's more noticeable.) But there are lots of moments that work really well, enough of them to keep me going, and still a better than average book with parents and children. This isn't a book that's big on actual scares, but there's plenty that's difficult, disturbing, and creepy. It's also very good at getting you in the deep cold of winter, a good read when it is very hot out for sure. I am not sure about the Shirley Jackson + The Shining comp. I've found Shirley Jackson often just means "it's horror written by a lady!" and while The Shining definitely shares some plot and setting elements, it doesn't have the same kind of feel. But the prose is strong and solid, enough for so-called "literary" readers to not feel like they've ventured too far into genre territory, but not so far that genre readers will find it too poetic to enjoy.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely adored reading Stage's debut novel in 2018, and I have been looking forward to seeing what she would write next ever since! Despite the summer publication date, this one may be enjoyed best over the cold winter months for optimum chills - reading it now with something on an oppressive heat wave made it a little less scary than I hoped for!The story comes from Orla's perspective - a recently retired ballerina, wife and mother of two children. She relocates with her family from downto I absolutely adored reading Stage's debut novel in 2018, and I have been looking forward to seeing what she would write next ever since! Despite the summer publication date, this one may be enjoyed best over the cold winter months for optimum chills - reading it now with something on an oppressive heat wave made it a little less scary than I hoped for!The story comes from Orla's perspective - a recently retired ballerina, wife and mother of two children. She relocates with her family from downtown NYC to the far remote upstate area, on an isolated property in North Country. This move allows her husband to pursue his own artistic dreams in the setting where he feels the most sparked to create. But, from the start, city-dwelling Orla is unsettled by their new property.Dominated by a massive pine over 500 years old, strange phenomena, pressures of isolation and weather combine to make this a fast-paced and genuinely thrilling read. I definitely had a hard time putting it down! The characters are well-developed, and while elements of the story do feel a bit familiar (even the blurb makes comparisons to The Shining), on the whole it does have a new feeling. Unfortunately, the ending felt a bit unfinished to me... I just wish that there had been more of a complete resolution. Although, I suppose this ends it on a more purposefully ominous note - I just feel like this makes it a bit less satisfying... Still, the pacing and the tension work well and I definitely plan on reading whatever Stage writes next. I just hope that the next one ends on a more complete note... also, this one meanders a bit more than her first and lacks some of that focus. I just left wanting a bit more - which isn't the worst way for a book to end!
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  • Caidyn (NO LONGER ACTIVE; he/him/his)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!DNF 36%I wasn't into this one. It started off very interesting, then... nothing happened. Nothing happened at all. I kept waiting and waiting. I didn't want to pick it up and found myself dreading to because I knew that I should push just a bit more. But, far too much of a slow-burn for me. I wasn't interested in whatever spooky thing was going on.
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  • Lauren Stoolfire
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I was sold on Wonderland by Zoje Stage novel when I saw it described as The Haunting of Hill House meets The Shining. Unfortunately, I wouldn't describe this as being like either of those two classics at all. In the end I liked the concept of this horror story, but not so much the actual execution. One day, I would still like to try Baby Teeth after hearing so many great things about it.
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  • OutlawPoet
    January 1, 1970
    It's not Baby TeethSo, yeah, I know it's kind of silly to expect another Baby Teeth, and I didn't really. But I think I expected that same edge and voice.This one's different.Once I resigned myself to that, I was able to lose myself in this dark fantasy. Once it was clear what was happening here, I enjoyed it. It's old school - harkening back to old European tales - but still delightfully modern.It's sleepy and quiet (only one shocking moment the entire book) and really quite chilling.I liked it It's not Baby TeethSo, yeah, I know it's kind of silly to expect another Baby Teeth, and I didn't really. But I think I expected that same edge and voice.This one's different.Once I resigned myself to that, I was able to lose myself in this dark fantasy. Once it was clear what was happening here, I enjoyed it. It's old school - harkening back to old European tales - but still delightfully modern.It's sleepy and quiet (only one shocking moment the entire book) and really quite chilling.I liked it.Not what I expected, but fine storytelling.
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