A new game begins
Some dark twists and turns await Alice Liddell in the latest volume of Soumei Hoshino’s “Alice in the Country of Hearts.” New characters appear and a new game awaits Alice although she is unaware of the implications.
This volume starts off with Alice finally taking advantage of Mary Gowland’s offer of an unlimited pass to his amusement park, as Boris the Cheshire Cat takes her on a tour of the many attractions available. Alice finds some of the rides a bit too much for her, and while she recovers Boris has a showdown with Ace the Knight of Hearts who wonders if killing Alice might make life in the Country of Hearts even more interesting. Meanwhile, Julius the Clockmaker wonders if having Alice stay in his tower is the right decision, and Alice and Julius must come to terms as to her status in his employment.
But all of this is just foreshadowing for the real event of volume four, when invitations are issued for the April Fools Ball, a time in Wonderland when the seasons change instead of the time and everyone is allowed to lie. All are required to attend the Ball, both enemies and friends alike as a supposed flag of truce is raised but hints abound that the event is not as peaceful as it would seem. Surprisingly, Nightmare from Alice’s dreams arrives, leading a contingent from the Land of Clover who will attend the Ball as well, and Alice meets the mysterious Joker who informs Alice that the new game has begun.
Volume Four was an excellent bridge for the series, and the new characters were just what the series needed to keep the readers on their toes. Alice wonders allowed if she might be getting too used to the extreme violence and oddity of the Country of Hearts, and with the introduction of the Country of Clover it seems that she will not be allowed to adjust for too long.
Alice’s continues to effect the citizens of the Country of Hearts, with Boris and Ace being confused by Alice’s ability to feel and care for other living beings. Both of them react in different ways, and Ace’s dark side is a reminder that no matter how charming some of the citizens of the Country of Hearts appear to be, deep down they are remorseless killers who tolerate Alice only for so long as she continues to fascinate them.
This is one of the rare manga that when I close the final page I wish I had the next volume available immediately. For every question answered there is a new one posed, and the story continues to deepen with every episode.
Volume four also contains a long preview of “The Witch of Artemis,” a new series from Tokyo Pop