At the outset of Frank Beddor's "ArchEnemy: The Looking Glass Wars," Wonderland's future is not looking too promising. The Heart Crystal and Queen Alyss are without their powers, and the people of Wonderland have lost their trademark creative initative. The bright spot is that the evil Redd Heart isn't so powerful herself. She tries to join forces with her archenemy, Alyss, to save Wonderland.
Read the excerpt below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
Oxford, England. 1875.
Alyss of Wonderland raced up the front walk, using her imagination to unlock the door and turn the latch. Inside the house, nothing had changed. The umbrella stand and hat rack, the family pictures hanging in the hall, even the gouge in the baseboard marking where she'd thrown her ice skates one winter afternoon: Everything was exactly as it had been when she'd lived there . . . so long ago, it seemed.
"Please, what do you want?" the dean's voice reached her from the back of the house.
She sighted them in her imagination's eye: the dean and Mrs. Liddell, Edith and Lorina. Their clothes a good deal ripped, they huddled together on the drawing room sofa in fearful silence while Ripkins—one of King Arch's bodyguards, and a deadly assassin—stood ominously before them. Ripkins: the only Boarderlander who could flex his fingertips, pushing deadly sawteeth up out of the skin in the pattern of his fingerprints.
"Please," the dean said again.
Fingerprint blades flexed, Ripkins moved his hands fast in front of him, shredding air. Mrs. Liddell flinched. The assassin took a step toward the dean, the sisters each let out a sob and— "Hello?" Alyss called, walking directly into the room. She had imagined herself into Alice Liddell's long skirt and blouse, her hair in a tight bun. "Excuse me, I didn't know there was company."
She tried to look startled—eyes wide, mouth half open, head tilted apologetically—as she thought her double would. Wanting to catch Ripkins off guard, she pretended to be meek, cowed, and let him grab her and push her toward the Liddells.
Where he'd touched her, there was blood.
Ripkins" hands became a blur in front of him, churning air and moving in toward the dean's chest. Alyss had no choice but to expose her imaginative powers in front of the Liddells. With the slightest of movements, she conjured a deck of razor-cards and sent them cutting through the air.
Fiss! Fiss, fiss, fiss!
In a single swift motion, Ripkins spun clear and unholstered a crystal shooter, firing a retaliatory cannonade. Alyss gestured as if wiping condensation off a looking glass and the shrapnel-like bullets of wulfenite and barite crystal clattered to the floor.
The Liddells sat dumbfounded, their fear muted in the shock of seeing their adopted daughter engage in combat, producing otherworldly missiles out of the air—flat blade-edged rectangles resembling playing cards, bursts of gleaming bullets. She conjured them as fast as she defended herself against them, what with the intruder making expert use of the strange guns and knives strapped to his belt, thighs, biceps, and forearms.
"Father!" A fistful of mind riders—ordinary-looking darts infused with poison that turned victims one upon the other in rage—rocketed toward the family.