A modern retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a black heroine, A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney is an urban fantasy novel you will not want to put down.
Set in Atlanta, Georgia the novel opens with Alice Kingston, a teen dealing with the grief of losing her father suffering from a panic attack. Alice ends up running in an ally where she comes face to face with a Nightmare. Nightmares are scary creatures that appear in the real world but derive from the parallel universe Wonderland and are fueled by fear and anger. This is where Alice meets Addison Hatta who defeats the Nightmare. He would and go on to teach Alice how to battle the creatures and be a warrior, a dreamwalker.
“Blessed with increased speed and agility, incredible strength and dexterity, abilities no normal human being possessed... And she trips over a mop.”
Without telling y'all too much, Hatta ends up getting poisoned and we go on this journey to find the cure with Alice as she travels the depths of Wonderland to save him. During this quest is where she learns of the doom that threatens Wonderland and the real world.
What appealed to me the most was how the novel provided those whimsical moments you look forward to in fantasy. While also tackling issues that we can find relatable today. In the real world, a young black girl was killed in Alice’s neighborhood. Which sparked anger in the community because they did not agree with how the situation was being handled by officials. This incident causes her mother to be very concerned every time Alice would leave home. Her mother's fears are something that a lot of black parents face while raising their children in a county where we've seen black people get killed for doing little to nothing.
This also caused a strain on Alice’s friends because she was inconsistent and since Wonderland was a secret that only her friend Courtney knew. It caused Alice to feel guilty because she would have to lie about what she was doing to the people closest to her.
If you are looking for a great urban fantasy A Blade So Black is an excellent pick. McKinney’s take on Alice in Wonderland provides you with quirks and surprises you didn’t know you needed. From the characters to the writing, I was immediately immersed in this novel and I am excited to finish the series.
Already read this A Blade So Black? Check out the second novel in the series A Dream So Dark.
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