Not too long ago an author approached us and asked if we would like to read and review her novella. It was a southern gothic retelling of Alice and Wonderland. This sounded really interesting, so we definitely said yes! It’s always really flattering when an author approaches us like this. Today we are here with our review of Take Your Medicine.
Take Your Medicine was released on March 5, 2018. Alice “Al” Liddell is from Echola, Alabama. She leads the life of a normal teen until the day she’s diagnosed with vasovagal syncope – a fainting disorder which causes her to lose consciousness whenever she feels emotions too strongly.
Her mother, the “Queen of Hearts,” is the best cardiothoracic surgeon this side of the Mason-Dixon Line and a bit of a local hero. Yet, even with all her skill she is unable to cure her daughter of her ailment, leading Al into the world of backwater witchcraft.
Along the way she meets a wacky cast of characters and learns to accept her new normal.
Take Your Medicine is a southern gothic retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Candyce: This cover is gorgeous! I love the colors of the flowers and the font used for the title is pretty. A cover like this is one that would make me pick up a book in the bookstore. After reading this novella, I now know the flowers have a meaning to the story. Very interesting!
Isabelle: I really like this cover! The flowers are beautiful and the font goes really well with them. As Candyce said, the cover fits the story and it’s always fun to realise the meaning of a cover after reading the story.
Candyce: I am a fan of Alice and Wonderland and I’m a fan of retellings. That definitely made me want to pick this one up. It’s an interesting story and the way the author writes was very smooth and it didn’t take me long to get into the story or finish it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a disorder like Alice does and I didn’t know anything about it before reading this novella. Alice is still learning to live with her new reality and that isn’t easy. She’s really close with her mother and even though she’s an amazing surgeon, even she can’t fix this disorder. During her chore of watering the trees, she sees someone near the house and this interests her. She meets Rabbit and Kat who are quirky in their own way and want to help Alice. Her mother is against this idea when she finds out, but after certain events she’s willing to get to know Rabbit. As long as there aren’t any other medical experiments. I could clearly see references to different Alice and Wonderland characters and this was done in more subtle ways. I started caring for Alice and hoped they would eventually find a cure for her. This is where it gets tricky. Take Your Medicine is only a novella, so with this said, I missed some character development. While there is a storyline, the ending is a bit sudden. There wasn’t really much closure. That being said, I get that it’s hard in a novella. I think there would’ve been more development if this was a full length book. I did start loving this world. I only need more of it.
Isabelle: I very much enjoyed the writing style of Hannah Carmack and flew through this book. It is a pretty short story but sometimes it takes me forever to read those for some reason. Not with this one though, like I said I read it super quickly and that was definitely in part due to the very enjoyable writing style. The premise sounded quite interesting especially since I have a friend that used to suffer from a similar disease. She used to faint a lot as well, especially when something scared her or if she was upset. She definitely gave us a couple of good scares but for the most part we were used to it and knew what to do. This made it so interesting for me to read about a character with a bit of a similar experience, it also made me incredibly sad to read that her old friends kind of abandoned Al and that she saw herself as a burden. This also got me to focus on the blooming friendships in this story, and while they developed very quickly and maybe even a bit sudden I did enjoy this part of the story a lot. While the premise was intriguing I did feel that the story lacked a bit in the plot development, this is obviously due to the fact that it’s such a short story and you can’t have every thing in it but it would’ve been nice if the story was expanded some what and we got more development. Like Candyce said, it ended so sudden and was left wanting more out of this story and more from these characters.
Candyce: Alice isn’t your typical teenager anymore after finding out about her disorder. It’s the middle of the summer and she’s enjoying her reading (well not always, but reading is something she loves). That made me connect with her from the start. The love of books. Alice is having a hard time though. Friendships are hard to manage when you faint everytime you get a bit too emotional, whether that be happy, sad, angry, etc. I think this is why Rabbit and Kat become important to her as quickly as they do. Meeting them gives her the opportunity to explore her own feelings. For someone who has to deal with a lot, she is pretty strong.
Alice’s mother is another strong woman. She is an amazing doctor and is able to do this and take care of her daughter by herself. Alice has a great relationship with her mother and it’s clear that they love each other very much. I bet as a doctor it’s very frustrating when you can’t fix your own daughter’s medical problems. She tries to give her some freedom, while I imagine that’s pretty hard. I loved that we got a chapter from her POV. This fit in the story very well.
Rabbit seems like a really interesting girl that I would’ve loved to know more about to be honest. I think she has her own baggage and her life isn’t always easy. She’s very helpful and wants to try and help Alice from the start. This is the same for Kat and their friends we see along the way.
Isabelle: As I mentioned, I had a friend with a bit of a similar experience and seeing Alice developing those new friendships with girls that don’t treat her as a freak of a burden was great to read. I did think those friendships were rushed a bit and weren’t competely believable. I really liked reading about Rabbit and Kat but I would’ve liked to get to know them better than we did. For example, why are they nicknamed Kat and Rabbit? I kind of get Kat from Cerise but Rabbit for Daria? That needs some explaining haha. We get little hints about their homelives and I really wanted more. The whole story is about Alice and even she didn’t get much of a development. I did think she was a well-rounded character and I enjoyed reading about her. I also really liked Alice’s relationship with her mom. It felt so real and I could definitely understand her mom. Once again I would’ve liked to read some more about her mom, get some more chapters in her POV, explain why Jackson is picking her up, explore that relationship with Ed. I think this just sums up my feelings about the story quite easily, I wanted more! I enjoyed reading about these characters and the writing style was very engaging. However I missed both character development and more of a plot.
All in all a story with fantastic writing that we both wished was a lot longer. It definitely has a lot of potential. The idea is so interesting, but we think it would’ve reached its full potential if it was a full length story. We hope this happens in the future or that we at least get another novella.