Weariland: Mary Shotwell
Imagine living in a place where your time is programmed, no clocks and you are no longer aloud to think or use your imagination. Imagine living in a world that once flourished and was beautiful but had all of the beauty and resources taken away leaving a place that was once called Wonderland turned into a tired and dreary place now known as Weariland: A land that is just tired of what it has become.
Meet Fifteen-year-old Lason Davis who learns about the death of her grandmother but has received a text message that has two words: Hiding Place. Imagine how she felt receiving that test as the last words she would ever receive from her grandmother, Alice, whom she adored. Plagued and haunted by her last words, Lason and her mother Caroline Davies, travel to England for her funeral. But, her mother has an odd way of dealing with life. Instead of working out her problems having mental disorders, she instead takes pills to wash away her fears and anger. Dealing with her mother is not easy as you will learn as you read this story filled with mystery, intrigue and a touch of Alice in Wonderland as you meet the unusual cast of characters that will take you down their own type of portal or rabbit hole and learn more about Weariland.
Sometimes the words of another stick in your mind as Lason and the White Rabbit find their way to Weariland and the end result might keep her there forever as they need Lason to stop what the Ira the Queen of Hearts has created. Her demandments are decrees of what each person is required to do and if they don’t she either imprisons them or executes them according to her own whims and wiles. Lason has something precious that is the major power or key to saving this place and in order to find it she goes up against the Queen, the Tarmals, and many others.
In the present we meet Detective Landry who is assigned to her grandmother’s murder and is informed by Lason’s mother that she is missing. When she reminds herself of something that was said to her about her own mother in the past she realizes that what is happening to Lason might mean she is in another world and not ours. Hoping that the Landry will work with her she reveals through a picture that animals with human qualities inhabit the place she is in. When Lason realizes that the book she has is blank she wonders what her grandmother wanted her to see but all of a sudden letters and patterns appear and will she understand what she was meant to do?
The same as with people the creatures or animals in this place did not always adapt to change and some decided to become lazy and demanded others do things for them. As in our world some do things for the good while others do not. The history behind the Queen and her sister is revealed and the jealousies were so great that Ira decided to take the life of her sister and would no longer have to worry about her father’s affection for her. Deep within her she hated anyone that dared to defy her, not follow her rules and without her power and those that bowed to her will, she would be nothing at all.
Lason is strong, persistent and will not give up even though she is in a strange land with strange creatures. She takes on Queen Ira but not before dealing with the disappearance of the White Rabbit and the hospitality of some of the other inhabitants who treat her to food, allow her to remain in their homes if she wants to but instead ventures out into the rain to find the White Rabbit and hopefully spare him from execution by the queen. Hear the voice of Queen Ira who is devious, mean, and horrific and who has no feelings for anyone at all. She is loyalty only to herself. The Queen of Souls, is the daughter of Ira the Queen of Hearts who know rules the land and her evil is more poisonous than the venom from a poisonous snake. Heartless, unfeeling and not allowing those that live in Weariland the ability to do as they please, use their imaginations and causing them to feel you might way weary or tired of life and the place in general. Imagine a place filled with majestic beauty turning into one with no trees, forests of landscape and living in fear for your life everyday.
As Lason meets the Butterfly no longer a caterpillar who relates the history of Weariland and what happened to the people leaving them divided into two nations you might say of those who support the Queen, of course not by choice and those who were smart enough to leave. Lason needs to understand why she has been chosen to go here and in the real time or present her mother is frantic hoping to find her realizing where she might be but how will she communicate with her? Secrets, lies, betrayals and a young girl who learns the secret of love, devotion and why she must go back and forth to this place in order to save them from the demandments and the terror of this Queen. When her mother realizes the truth can she convince the Detective to help her? What happens next in Weariland will shock readers as she meets the one person she knew about but never met her Uncle Nicholas who was taken prisoner by the Queen and is now hoping to strike a deal for his release.
Learning that her grandmother tried to overthrow the Queen of Souls like the first Alice did the Queen of Hearts caused her to ask just how she did that. The answer the Butterfly gave stems from what she learned of this Otherworld. She attempted to rid the world of anything that was different or not ordinary. She feared that an Otherworld Human coming into her world , more evil that herself and whose power of imagination would destroy her. Lason’s grandmother was almost that person. But, Ira uses chopping block and takes off people’s heads. The Book was the key to everything the Butterfly said but how? As the White Rabbit aptly states: Humans supply the imagination and Wearians can do the rest. The first time she opens the pages nothing appears but you won’t believe what happens the second.
Lason then learns about her uncle but she and White are in danger and The Queen with her tarmals would stop at nothing. But, the key to destroying them was water. One man named Greco was restrained, arrested and the queen wanted him dead. Standing in front of her throne where her mother executed Wearians the author allows reader to deep inside her court, her realm and her manner of terror. Imagine wanting to bring a special cake to his daughter for her birthday or even for someone else? Imagine not being allowed to bake it or if he bought it condemned. Meet Burtle who took in Lason and allowed her some food and warmth until Lason realized she had to take action but what she does will not only endanger her, White but someone else too. Then on page 4 of the Royal Star something sets off another chain of events as the death of a reporter just might be linked to what is happening.
As her Uncle Nicholas is brought in front of the Queen will he be able to convince her that he will give her Lason and the book in return for his freedom? The ending brings Lason together with her Uncle but will he keep his word to the Queen and give her up with the book or will he protect her and make sure she gets home? Author Mary Shotwell brings to light many issues that young adults might have to deal with such as family loyalty, trust, understanding differences, fear, unjust behaviors, drug abuse, and an unfeeling mother that just wanted to protect her daughter from a truth that would soon become her reality. When the story ends the author lets us know that this just might be the first of many trips Lason will make to Weariland hoping that someday to restore it to its natural beauty and become Wonderland again but first read the last page and you decide what might come next and why. Will her grandmother’s murder be solved or will it turn into another cold case? When they realize just how it might have happened will Lason go back and try to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps? Weariland or Wonderland: Only the author knows the final outcome and she has yet to pen the next installment.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine