In this dark twist on a classic tale, Alice struggles to recover from the trauma of her past and her commitment to a mental institution, and to regain..Show More » her power as an independent and whole person.
What drew me to this book: Reviews for this book are very good, and I like the vintage paper collage look of the cover. I have read some of the books in Christina Henry’s Black Wing series and enjoyed them. Plus, I love retellings of fairy tales. I love the clever ways authors use details from the originals to make a new story.
Why I kept reading: Wow! First off, Alice is not like the Black Wings books. It’s a grittier, harsher, and beautifully written. It’s a different genre entirely; Alice is categorized as horror or dark fantasy. It feels as if the writing intentionally matches the style and sound of Victorian England, in which period the original Alice books were written. Not to the extent that it’s difficult to read, but just enough to give the story character and convey the time period reflected in Alice’s fantasy world.
I adore the way the elements of both original books are used in this story. Having the Walrus and the Carpenter appear as two rival street bosses, for example, is very clever. The uses of some elements are obvious, such as the Cheshire cat or the tea party with a door mouse. Others you may not recognize immediately, such as Alice’s plunge “down the rabbit hole” and swimming through a river of tears, the Mad Hatter, or the oysters that the Walrus and the Carpenter eat.
Though not a young adult novel, one of the themes is certainly Alice coming into her own power as an adult and a survivor of trauma. The book also touches on the idea of loving yourself and others regardless of “imperfections,” and whether or not you can be a good person despite having done some bad things.
I listened to the audio version of this book, and I highly recommend it. The narrator, Jenny Sterlin, does a great job with the voices and the Victorian feel of the book. I’ve already purchased, and am listening to, the sequel, Red Queen.
Why I recommend this book: Alice is a clever and well-written dark fantasy that has depth and substance enough to feel literary. The world Henry has created is fascinatingly awful, but watching Alice own her past and take control of her future is incredibly satisfying.
After a horrifying journey through the Old City to win her freedom and her magic, Alice leaves the city with her companion, Hatcher, in search of his ..Show More »daughter and, perhaps, a little peace.
After listening to and enjoying Christina Henry’s Alice, and Jenny Sterlin’s beautiful narration, I started The Red Queen immediately.
Broken though they are, Alice and Hatcher share a great love. Out of that love, Alice commits to the journey to find Hatcher’s daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby. Leaving the horrors of the city behind, they expect to find a kinder, more sensible land—once one has escaped a tragic situation, one should live happily ever after, right?
As most survivors know, this is not the case. Alice and Hatcher find just as much insanity, just as much treachery, just as much misery as they did in the city. Alice loses Hatcher to the wiles of the White Queen, who has destroyed the land and its people in her battle with the Black King. Now Alice has to decide who she is and what power she has in order to save Hatcher and reclaim her life.
The Red Queen felt to me like a book about growing up, or maybe about transformation. Alice’s growth as an adult had been stunted because of her time in the asylum. Now she’s escaped her past and the indiscretions of her youth, along with her captivity, and can look forward to her future. She has the chance to remake herself, and now must choose who she will become.
This is the last planned book in the Chronicles of Alice. I admit I was surprised by that. Having been told in Alice that Hatcher’s daughter was a famous courtesan in the Middle East, I assumed that the encounter with the White Queen was just an interlude on their way to the end of a trilogy, in which they would find Hatcher’s daughter and rescue her from her own version of The Walrus or The White Rabbit. Plus, I imagined the Middle East might hold some knowledge Alice would need to develop her skills as a magician. However, our protagonist didn’t have to travel as far as the Middle East to rescue children, learn about her magic, or decide what kind of person she would become.