Author: Stuart Oldfield
Anything with white rabbits invokes a blond little girl in a blue dress, but Stuart Oldfield’s The One Who is Two ventures into an adult satire of Alice in Wonderland without jumping on Lewis Carroll’s toes.
The One Who is Two follows adulterer and failed father Simon Cadwallader on his adventures into a strange dimension where signs move, animals talk, and inanimate objects hold high opinions. After leaving his ex-wife’s home, he finds himself transported to another world. As he tries to find his way back home, he comes across many peculiar characters, some human, some not-so human. His travels reveal that he wasn’t the only person to enter the alternate dimension, and soon, he has to abandon his cowardly ways to save the new world.
The premise of The One Who is Two isn’t original, but the way newcomer Stuart Oldfield tells the story is well-done and easy to read. He paints the alternate reality with fresh and vibrant descriptions while maintaining his comedic voice as Loofah, Simon’s name when he enters the new world. In places where the prose is a little too well-done, readers can read slowly without feeling as if the story will drag into a dimension of boredom.
Throughout the whole book, subtle and obvious points bring the theme home: duality. The One Who is Two is relatable and un-relatable to adults; the sexual innuendos and the dreary office scenes (hovering overseer—I mean, supervisor—included) are understandable to working adults; the talking animals and murderous inanimate objects are completely foreign to sensible adults. Many readers will easily find the alternate reality’s duality as a satire (and unfortunate comparison) to society now. By the end, readers will want to get the next book from Oldfield’s White Rabbit series.
For readers who are looking for another Alice in Wonderland, The One Who is Two isn’t the same book. Still, open-minded readers looking for a quick read made for adults, The One Who is Two is such a book.