Having just read all six volumes of QuinRose’s Alice in the Country of Hearts, I was surprised by this book. It’s not a sequel; some research tells me that it is based on a separate, but related, video game from the one on which Hearts is based. My research also indicates that each volume of Alice in the Country of Clover stands alone. That isn’t surprising — the best way I can describe the plot is that it reads like a bunch of short pieces of fanfiction pairing Alice romantically with different characters from Hearts, only this is fanfiction written by the author of the original story.
In the titular story, which is the longest, Alice is startled to find the two young twins Dee and Dum have the ability to instantly turn into adults — and they’re both in love with her. After some soul-searching, she realizes she loves them back. The story then has Alice and the (adult form) twins kissing, bathing together, and, as the story ends, falling into bed. No scandalous anatomy is actually shown, but the piece is highly suggestive and not a little weird, since the twins still behave a lot like children (playing with dolphin and octopus toys in the bathtub, calling Alice “big sis” even as they seduce her), and occasionally turn back into actual children.
The other stories are much more toned-down, focusing on relationships rather than, um, weird shape-shifting smexytimes. They have Alice paired with older, oddball amusement-park manager Gowland; Boris the (anthropomorphized) Cheshire Cat; Queen of Hearts Vivaldi; and the Hatter, Blood Dupre.
The change in artist between the Country of Hearts volumes and this one is noticeable: the art is a little simplified here, with fewer textures and fine lines. The flowy hair is less flowy. Differences in the art styles, though, are nothing compared to differences in the story styles. These stories take place at a time that is difficult to determine relative to the Country of Hearts volumes — a time in which Hearts has “moved,” changing itself into the land of Clover. An apparently normal occurrence for Hearts, this means a different landscape and a few different characters. This volume tries to make things clear by starting out with a set of character descriptions for the Hearts characters, then one for the Clover characters (who are mostly the same, but who in some cases gain or lose characteristics with the “move” to Clover).
The stories must each represent one possible reality, as they frequently contradict each other. In Hearts, Alice stayed in a tower which did not “move” to Clover, so the first story has her living instead at Hatter mansion, where the twins are. Another story places her at the amusement park, which in the first story, had been left behind in Hearts with the tower. Another story sees her in Hearts Castle. And, of course, in each one, she falls in love with a different character (or, in the case of the twins, two), always without mention of the other love plotlines in the volume. This really seems to be a book wherein the author said, “Now, here’s what would have happened if she’d fallen in love with the twins! Or with Gowland! Or . . .”
The rating is understandable given the suggestive talk and situations in the first story. The others, as noted, are milder. There is some violence, but no more than in Hearts; indeed, probably less, because the characters are all too busy swooning and smooching to spent much time shooting.
Fans of Alice in the Country of Hearts may enjoy this, or may find it to be too much. The relationships in Hearts are more subtle, and the plot explores things other than romance. Also, Country of Hearts is a reverse-harem setup, while Country of Clover situates Alice in several different one-on-one (or one-on-two – and the whole twins-are-actually-kids-kind-of thing is weird, weird, I say!) relationships. Fans of the original will appreciate that this volume has the same humor. And anyone who read Country of Hearts (or played the video games, mentioned once very briefly in this volume) and wanted more steamy scenes, here’s the book for you!
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins
Art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru
Seven Seas, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen (16+)