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The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. A place where Alice could finally rest, no longer the plaything of the Rabbit, the pawn of Cheshire, or the prey of the Jabberwocky. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash - and hope is nowhere to be found.
Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King. The pieces are set, and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But to win she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful - the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen.
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By Books, Vertigo and Tea on 07-19-17
A Satisfying Conclusion
What made the experience of listening to Red Queen the most enjoyable?
Red Queen is the second and final book of the The Chronicles of Alice. This dark and delightfully contorted retelling pick-ups where we last left off with Alice and Hatcher. While there is a prologue, I do not recommend reading this title out-of-order or as a standalone. For that reason, I am not going to be providing a recap during this review.
“Once, there was a girl called Alice, and she lived in the New City, where everything is shining and beautiful and fair. But Alice was a curious girl with a curious talent. She was a Magician. Do you know what a Magician is?”
The Chronicles of Alice easily fall within my favorite of retellings. Fast paced, gritty and beautifully re-imagined, Henry gives new life and breath to a loved classic with Alice. I was filled with elation to immediately discover Red Queen was no exception and would follow in the shining footsteps of its predecessor.
We are now accompanying Alice and Hatcher on their journey to find Hatcher’s lost daughter Jenny. But alongside of our familiar heroine and her “somewhat” unstable companion, we are introduced to some new and rather eccentric individuals. This includes Pen the giant and the denizens of their current surroundings. Each encounter provides additional insight into Alice and Hatcher’s quest and the Red and White Queens. The author cleverly relies on this new ensemble to convey the history and fill in many blanks.
The world building maintains the previously introduced, bleak yet imaginative setting that manages to effectively pique the curiosity and encourage further exploration. While the environment is a more limited in this adventure, I did not find it to be any less appealing. It was well-tailored to the direction of the story and serves its purpose.
It is fair to mention at this point that Red Queen is not as dark and graphic as Alice. Do not approach this portion of the story expecting the exact same action packed experience or you may miss all that it actually has to offer. Here we are gifted with a rather unique but welcomed change of direction or turn of events. The tale is now very much character driven and the pacing has slowed but not without justifiable reason. Through fragmented memories, we are exposed to Alice’s past and family life. Any pre-existing questions are answered and the veil is finally lifted from Hatcher as Henry thoroughly examines Alice’s relationship with him. This is Alice and Hatcher’s story.
The writing continues in that very straight-forward, crisp manner that I have come to expect with Henry’s storytelling. She effortlessly manages to balance all elements providing just enough detail to fuel the story but continue to play on and encourage the reader’s own imagination. The end result is an adequately pleasing conclusion that I would recommend to anyone who found appreciation in Alice.
What other book might you compare Red Queen to and why?
If you enjoyed Henry's re-imaging of Wonderland with The Chronicles of Alice, I would also suggest exploring Colleen Oakes' Queen of Hearts series for another fun take on this classic tale.
Which scene was your favorite?
Without spoilers, the conclusion. I feel that the author was successful in providing an ending that felt rewarding and complete.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
This final book in the duology was very character driven. I was particularly intrigued by the further exploration of Hatcher's character and understanding his history.
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