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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 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.
64 of 68 people found this review helpful
First off, I'd like to mention that the reading voice of this story was phenomenal. Great job madam. If it wasn't for you, I'm not sure I would have listened to the entire book.
That being said.. What an odd story. I thought it was very disturbing and captivating at the same time. I found myself thinking about the story through out the entire day. I can't say I liked it, but I will give the author credit for haunting my thoughts and dreams.
37 of 39 people found this review helpful