Once Upon a Wonderland

Young Adult - Mythology/Fairy Tale
359 Pages
Reviewed on 08/06/2023
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Having dived headlong into his own personal rabbit hole after a career in communications and sustainability, DJ Stoneham is now pursuing a lifelong dream of writing fantasy. Rather like the heroine of this book, he finds himself drawn to the curious, the fantastic and the peculiar.

Following his first novel in 2018 - Alice Falls Again - Stoneham published the epic fantasy duology – Outcast and Havoc – in 2021 before completing Once upon a Wonderland in early 2023.
Although new to publishing his own fantasy works, back in the 1990s, David co-wrote a best-selling series of schoolbooks for English teachers and co-created a private anthology of short fiction, with foreword by Nicholas Negroponte and Arthur C Clarke.

Born in London, David grew up on the south coast of England and after a few years in China and back in the UK, now lives happily ever after in Finland.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

Once Upon a Wonderland by DJ Stoneham is the second book in the standalone Wonderland stories. Alice realized that she agreed with her parents’ assessment of her character - headstrong and living in a dream world. She certainly used more double negatives than other girls. Though her parents didn’t believe in Wonderland, Alice knew this other world went beyond her imagination. She had settled back into society life, even enjoying time with her siblings, but soon she realized that she was being drawn back to Wonderland. Alice embarked on an epic journey into Wonderland where she searches for Jack Door in the Winter Forest and encounters an assortment of fairytale characters that have unique twists.

The prologue is a clever account of where Alice is when the story begins, seen through the perspective of her mother in her conversation with Mrs. Huxley. This conversation introduces the writing style and Alice’s attitude as they’re talking about her lack of a husband, stubbornness, and her hallucinations about talking animals. The writing is witty and the immediate cleverness in the style is reminiscent of the writing of the original Carroll stories and captures the classic attitude of Alice. The personality of Alice is incredibly well-rounded with a cheeky humor that fits the mold of the Alice we know. Her personality is quantified by her parents as being headstrong, stubborn, sharp-tongued, and living in a dream world. The world of Wonderland is a great backdrop, twisting common elements and characters such as Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Cheshire Cat, and the Hatter.

Fairytales take on new life with Zezolla as a Cinderella figure, Rapunzel, references to Little Red Riding Hood, and an interesting twist on Gaston, Belle, and the Beast that involves a court. Various themes are found throughout the story with poignant moments that are casually placed amidst the chaos, including hope being powerful and uplifting, fairytale characters intent on revenge, and being led astray by Queen of Hearts. Once Upon a Wonderland weaves a humorous, strange, original, and charming adventure with an assortment of fairytale characters.

DJ Stoneham

Many thanks for the review. Humbled by the encouraging feedback. A few other recent reviews:
“Captivating, iconic, and engaging.” Anthony Avina
“Engaging, entertaining, and wickedly smart … a classic in its own right.” Self-Publishing Review
“One of the finest releases of 2023. A must read.” Book Nerdection
"Will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the final page.” The Bookish Elf
“An exhilarating continuation of classic tales.” Foreword Clarion
“Not just engaging, but hard to put down or predict.” Midwest Book Review

Foreword Clarion

Juxtaposing whimsy and seriousness to innovative effect, Once upon a Wonderland refreshes classic tales and seeks untold stories.

Wonderland’s inhabitants speak with the same amusing trickster language and double-talk as is in the original. Their conversations sometimes break the fourth wall to playful effect. Still, the tone remains lighthearted, even when Alice faces dark challenges and hears brutal backstories. Balancing trauma, effervescence, lies, and reconstructed truths, Once upon a Wonderland is a fantasy novel that plays with storytelling; it’s an exhilarating continuation of classic tales.

Anthony Avina

Captivating, iconic, and engaging, author DJ Stoneham’s “Once Upon a Wonderland” is a must-read folklore and fantasy-driven fairytale novel. The wealth of mythology the author adapted for this book and the way the author was able to utilize the narrative of Alice and Wonderland simultaneously to showcase a new way of exploring our perception of mental health overall allowed the reader to enjoy the journey Alice goes on and the emotional connection she forms to so many of the people of this magical land. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Mid-West Review

DJ Stoneham creates a compelling, forceful environment, supplementing action and impossible characters and encounters with insights that Alice and her cohorts develop about what is happening, and why. Stoneham's contrast between adult decision prowess and a child's-eye view of the world makes for an involving story that is thoroughly unexpected.

Libraries and readers looking for fantasy stories that take classics and turn them on end for new realizations and action will find Once Upon a Wonderland not just engaging, but hard to put down or predict. Its quirky re-envisioning of a Wonderland in which Alice's youth is pitted against odd and unpredictable developments creates encounters worthy of book club discussion, as well.

Self-Publishing Review

As inventive and immersive as all of Alice's previous trips. Children and adults alike will revel in this vivid reimagining of one of the most impossible realms in literature, taking the original story in new directions with Stoneham’s innovative take on the dark side of fairy tales.

The author’s masterful dexterity with language is an impressive homage to Lewis Carroll’s own whimsical pen, and the wordplay throughout the novel is rich, clever, and unpredictable. Engaging, entertaining, and wickedly smart, Once Upon a Wonderland feels like a classic in its own right.

Book Nerdection

The reawakening of a classic. DJ Stoneham’s book is a celebration of what made this original story so great, coupled with surreal elements and twists and turns that make it one of the finest releases of 2023. A must read.

The Bookish Elf

Delicious and vile characters and a unique writing style …. a thought-provoking and engaging narrative that will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

With Stoneham’s vivid imagination and unique style of scene-setting and descriptiveness of character encounters, the book is a gripping adventure for young and old alike. Stoneham’s writing style is masterful, with vivid descriptions that bring Wonderland to life in all its surreal glory
while the story may be whimsical and fanciful, it also deals with weighty themes like mental health and personal growth, adding a layer of depth and meaning to the narrative.

Reader Views

A Whimsical Reimagination of A Beloved Classic

DJ Stoneham has outdone himself in creating a noteworthy fantasy like no other. Once Upon A Wonderland is a delightful reimagination of the beloved fairy tale of the past. Updated with an extended cast of delicious and vile characters, they are sure to keep the reader engaged while racing from page to page as the plot thickens and dangerous agendas come to light. In a whimsical world where oddity is the norm, Stoneham's vivid imagination adds a sense of amusement with its unique style of scene-setting and descriptiveness of character encounters. These slight peculiarities set the tone for a gripping adventure for young and old alike.

Page after page, the author's writing style mesmerizes, drawing the reader into the unique qualities only a place such as Wonderland can possess. Alice's vernacular mimics the logical and quizzical sides to that of the original Lewis Carroll character, reminiscing a sense of nostalgia for readers of the Alice in Wonderland classic. Stoneham's work compliments Lewis Carroll's classic by including the scatterbrained Cheshire Cat and the mischievous Queen of Hearts and adding his own twist on their personalities and the importance of Alice's quest to repair Wonderland.

“Once Upon A Wonderland” is a beautiful blend of a beloved classic with a unique creative enhancement for today's audiences.

Literary Titan

DJ Stoneham's fresh take on Alice's world is sure to ignite the imagination and leave readers spellbound. By integrating classic folklore with contemporary themes, the author ingeniously merges the old and the new in this narrative. DJ Stoneham masterfully weaves together various elements of fantasy and adventure, breathing new life into the classic tale of Alice.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book for its creativity, modernity, and enchanting storytelling. This novel is a must-read for young adults who seek to challenge traditional norms and indulge in a mesmerizing tale filled with fascinating characters and narratives. DJ Stoneham's fresh take on Alice's world is sure to ignite the imagination and leave readers spellbound.


Loved it! A fantastical dystopic delight.

Stoneham captures Lewis Carroll's writing style with ease, adopting the whimsical nature of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland whilst making the story and characters his own. This new yet familiar Wonderland carries an extraordinary weight whilst upholding the legacy of its predecessor in which the text certainly delivers. It is an exhilarating expansion to the original tale, allowing readers to revisit the world and characters in a fresh and innovative style. There are extensive amounts of creative wordplay which is all witty and amusing enhancing the overall experience. Colourful descriptive imagery launches the reader directly into the pages, enabling us to experience the magical storytelling almost as if we ourselves are a character within the book. Accompanied by captivating and enchantingly unusual illustrations, Once Upon a Wonderland keeps the reader enthralled from page one.

The book certainly works as a stand alone with all its charm and wonder, but I personally recommend reading both Alice Falls Again and Once Upon a Wonderland together for an irresistibly entrancing experience.


The novel features some laugh-out-loud sequences (like the iconic caterpillar character smoking an e-cigarette instead of a hookah pipe) and a fanciful tone throughout, as well as stellar illustrations that perfectly complement the narrative. In all, this whimsical fantasy adventure should appeal to fans of Carroll’s classic as well as fairy tales in general.

The Creative Muggle

Author Stoneham does an excellent job of capturing the whimsical spirit of Carroll's original story while infusing it with his own creativity. The book is filled with silly humour, harsh wordplay, and haunting backstories to popular fairy tales, making it a thoroughly engaging tale.

The book’s wonderful language, vivid imagery, and quirky fairytale characters bring the magical world of Wonderland to life. The book's romantic angle also adds an extra layer of charm. The illustrations in the book are also another fabulous feature, perfectly complementing the surreal and imaginative setting of the plot.

Overall, Once Upon a Wonderland is a satisfying read that captures the whimsy and imagination of Carroll’s classic.

Indie Reader

In his funny, surreal novel ONCE UPON A WONDERLAND, DJ Stoneham ambitiously aims to continue Lewis Carroll’s story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with entertaining excursions to familiar fairy tale characters and lands.

Crossroads Review

I am hooked and this author needs to do more retellings with a twist. This was freaking and creepy in the best possible ways. This full on fantasy was just what I was looking for in a retelling of Wonderland with twists and turns with horror and fantasy blended fully to create one chilling tale.

BookLife Review

Alice faces fairy-tale truths in this dark, playful return to Wonderland. Blending the playful and dark, this gripping fantasy from Stoneham (Alice Falls Again) tells the tale of Alice as a young adult returning to Wonderland. Stoneham's novel brings a revisionist bent to classic stories, but the tone and prose are refreshingly indebted to the original Alice books.

Nonsense romps, throughout, and chapter-opening illustrations lend an unsettling feeling of fabulist psychedelia. The usual Wonderland suspects make welcome appearances as well, with the flaky Cheshire Cat sometimes helping Alice, the Hatter more sinister and scary than ever, and the Queen of Hearts, as always, striving to thwart Alice's plans. Readers will be pleasantly surprised at how Alice's story ends.