The Wisdom of Madness (The Ministry of Curiosities #10), by C. J. Archer
Publish Date: June 5, 2018
Published by: C. J. Archer
Length: 260 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal/Romance
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5 out of 5 stars)
With Alice determined to discover the truth about her past, and Seth determined to help her, the couple find themselves sucked into a world where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. On the run to escape a mad queen’s wrath, and with an entire realm looking for them, tensions fray and friendships are tested.
Even worse for Seth, shocking secrets he’d rather leave buried are brought to the surface.
Joined on their adventure by an irritable Gus and a mysterious Eva, the four friends must learn the truth of Alice’s past so she can forge her future.
But a future with whom? And where?
This is unfortunately not a great book to conclude a series with. All of the last five MoC books have been leading up to this – Alice finally going to Wonderland and the reader finding out whether or not she will finally return Seth’s feelings for her.
Let’s start at the beginning, I suppose.
Right off the bat, it was a little jarring to go from single POV stories to a THREE-PERSON POV story. It took some time getting used to, since I had grown so accustomed to Charlie’s voice, in first person no less, so to suddenly be reading a third-person pov from three different characters took a bit of adjusting. It did however give me the ability to realize that, I didn’t actually like Alice. The only reason I had ever been excited about her was because of the Wonderland stuff. I realized that she is kind of a bland, uppity kind of a girl who is somewhat snobbish despite her upbringing. Eva points out her faults easily – how she refuses to give men a chance because she thinks all of them are only interested in her looks (and yes I understand that has been her situation most often, but she can’t find love unless she opens herself to someone), and she tends to made insulting comments without thinking about it. But what annoyed me was that even though she said she ought to apologize, I never quite felt like she actually meant it. There was just something missing about her that, as the story progressed, had me slowly realizing that I just did not care for her as a character.
Also, she couldn’t even be bothered to save herself. She was such a damsel in distress. [SPOILER] Not only did she trip into a moat and drown, but she wouldn’t even fight back or make it difficult when a guard tried to snatch her, because “her hands and feet were tied”. So? You can still hit him, squirm to make things difficult, try and bite him. [END SPOILER] Don’t be such a limp potato sack, Alice. Actually fight.
Seth was easier to like as a narrator, most likely because I already knew him from the rest of the series, and Eva was a joy. She had much more depth than Alice did. And I absolutely loved their slow-growing romance during the book. I quickly jumped on that bandwagon when I saw how Alice was still treating Seth (although, yes, Seth really could have done with being more himself). I loved how they seemed to actually be getting to know one another, sharing secrets from their past and present that weren’t pretty but were important to who they were as people. It was pretty much a near-perfect start to a great romance until suddenly it went in the direction I absolutely hate – the insta-love. Literally, in the span of less than a chapter, Seth went from “there was something precious and real there that he wanted to explore” to “she was the person he loved most in the world” and like, what? How? You only just started getting to know her! Three days ago! Don’t be jumping the gun! I would have been EXTREMELY happy seeing the book end with them starting to explore the attraction they had for one another – I didn’t need a detailed happy ending.
Speaking of jumping the gun and insta-love – Alice and Markell. Smh. It was like, the two blandest characters ever thinking they were falling in love. Not even three days together and oh my gosh I love you. YOU JUST MET. And I swear, they kept giving each other character traits that they really had no experience knowing they had – heck even I wasn’t quite sure they had them. Markell kept calling Alice “just” and I kept thinking “when did she ever demonstrate that in your presence?” And Alice was doing the same to him – forcing character traits on him that I’m not quite sure they actually observed. It was just such a gag-worthy “romance”.
Of all the characters, I still enjoyed Seth and Eva the most, and I fully believe that Gus deserves his own storyline. Or at least a nice vacation. And surprisingly enough, I think the character who experienced the most development was actually David, who, for the majority of the book (not to mention the synopsis), almost seemed to be forgotten from time to time, but hey – he learned to be more understanding towards his sister and half-brother so I say, progress.
Now, onto the plot itself. It was fast-paced and interesting, but was filled with scenes and moments that led to consequences that could have, and honestly should have, been easily avoided. I felt like some plot points were forced, and the Quellery one in particular just felt like such a dumb mistake. [SPOILER] Why would you ever think he would take Alice’s refusal of his marriage proposal gracefully? [END SPOILER] There was also an instance where the use of backtracking was implemented – I don’t know if that’s what it’s actually called, but Alice claimed in a later chapter that she had “spent most of the time at Quellery’s discussing England and constitutional monarchies” and I was flabbergasted becuase no she did not. There was not enough time while they were at Quellery’s caslte to have discussed that, because literally everything that happened there happened within a day-and-a-half [SPOILER] and all of that was centered around the marriage proposal and Lady Oxana’s threats towards Seth. [END SPOILER]
Also, I was extremely disappointed in Wonderland itself. This is supposed to be based on Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland? Where’s the Cheshire Cat? Where’s Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum? Where’s the Mad Hatter? Nothing of it felt even remotely like the strange dream-like world of the classic story. The only things that were recognizable were the name, the Queen of Hearts (why she was even called that?), and the white rabbit – and other talking animals who were actually humans cursed into the bodies on animals. It just felt like medieval England or something. Nothing spectacular or really interesting. I wouldn’t have minded if at least some of the human characters had recognizable names. Quelllery? Easily could have been Lord Cheshire is all I’m saying.
Oh, and to make everything end perfectly, Lincoln had the final chapter for perspective. And somehow he was a already messing up his marriage by not being honest with Charlie even though they had not had that problem in the past? It felt a little out of a character to be honest.
Sadly, this was just a really unimpressive ending to this series. The only thing that really kept me going was Eva and Seth’s budding romance (which got a tad ruined at the end) and the action (which was okay). With the sad representation of Wonderland, the rushed romances, and the blandness that was Alice, this one just was not one of my favorites and did not feel like it did the rest of the series justice.