Title: Lily-White & the Thief of Lesser Night
Author: C. S. E. Cooney
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Family, Wordplay
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: I’ll make sure of it – if I have to conjure one up myself!
Lily-White and her sister Ruby-Red have some unusual gifts and a talent for mayhem. When someone starts attacking the Cheshires, they find out how they can embrace this and find a bit of adventure of their own…
I felt like this short story was a kind of prequel to the rivalry that seems to feature throughout many of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland retellings. At a young age, sisters Lily-White and Ruby-Red already have an intense rivalry. And although they get along famously within this story, there are the seeds of discord in all of their interactions… and on completing this story, there was kind of an uncomfortable feeling that lingered, making you think of the future of the two queens…
As an origins story, this not only covers the beginning of tensions between the sisters – but why there is just one Cheshire cat, and how the vorpal sword came about. I love how Cooney is able to build upon the ideas that are laid out in Carroll’s work, but still make it entirely his own. The complex wordplay is still there, as is the tripped out and intense worldbuilding and this great sense of wonder. I look forward to reading this story again and again and again, just like the stories that inspired this short story.
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