Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars)
by Frank Beddor
Review by Kat Bittner
Dial Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0803731558
Date: 21 August 2007 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Frank Beddor Interview / Show Official Info /
Redd escapes total defeat by Alyss by leaping into the Heart Crystal at the end of the first volume. She reappears in Victorian England, but she is not alone. Redd and her faithful assistant The Cat (unfortunately, not as prevalent here as in the first book) reemerge in an unexpected brushstroke. Wherever Redd goes trouble follows her and she is able to recruit well-connected Black Imagination enthusiasts such as the cunning Sacrénoir and Baroness Dvonna (a character first introduced in the Hatter M comics by Image). The standout villain among them is Vollrath, an inverse of Bibwit who is a tutor of Black Imagination.
With the stakes for success pushed higher the reader sees the rise of another villain, King Arch of Boderland. This one dimensional machismo character has no redeeming qualities except that he is, save for Redd, the most entertaining character in the book. Arch's new bodyguards Ripkin and Blister are capable thugs, but are not used to their fullest effect. Maybe they will be given more to do in the third volume.
A major theme in Seeing Redd is fulfilling the responsibilities that come with maturing into a young woman. The two women who emphasize this are Alyss Heart and Molly Homburg. Alyss is learning to fulfill her role as the new queen restoring Wonderland from 13 years of Redd autocracy and juggling a burgeoning romance with her childhood friend, Dodge Anders. Alyss is not the only female taking on a new role. Molly Homburg, introduced in the previous book, is Alyss' new bodyguard after Hatter M goes on a sabbatical. While she possesses the skills of a capable Milliner; Alyss suspects she does not possess the maturity, which she fears could be exploited.
Molly Homburg is what Alyss was in the first book. She is brash, overwhelmingly confident in her skills, but she has not yet grown into herself. The great weight of responsibility she chooses to bear is visually emphasized in the overgrown backpack Molly carries her weapons in. Her role as a bodyguard can be more than she can handle. However, Molly would rather do anything else than appear incompetent, which Alyss fears King Arch will use to his advantage.
The best plotline to come out of the book is from Hatter M. We see more of his past and the consequences it will have it will have for his future. If you enjoy this character be sure to pick up the new Hatter M geo-graphic hardback. It is a compilation of the Hatter M comics beautifully done by artist Ben Templesmith (think Charles de Lint with whiplash).
Seeing Redd is children's lit meets action movie. There are more new villains to populate the action scenes and enough shiny weapons to arm them. You can't help thinking more than once how great it would look if directed by Jerry Bruckheimer. However, why wait till the inevitable movie adaptation of Looking Glass Wars releases. Read the book now and enjoy a fast paced read.