Book Review: Alice by Christina Henry

Alice by Christina Henry
Alice by Christina Henry

Title: Alice

Author: Christina Henry

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Retelling, Fiction, Adult, Dark, Urban Fantasy, Gothic, Fairy Tales

Publisher: Ace

Published: August 4, 2015

Page Amount: 291 pages

Blurb From Goodreads: In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

Why Read: Another book found on my Goodreads TBR list – I am unbelievably happy that I read it. I adore this book, mostly because everything about Alice and Wonderland is fantastic (because Victorian Gothic and fairytales smashed together). So really there’s no real reason not to read it.

Review: Where to begin with this book? My first impression was that I had to read it: because Alice and Wonderland retelling. Partially also, what makes this book so great is the gothic elements that are strewn throughout the book. The darker aspects really highlight some of the creepier parts that I remember about the original- which makes it, in one word, disturbing.

The original characters of Alice and the Mad Hatter are reimagined as Alice and the Hatcher, imprisoned in a mental institution and drugged day-in and day-out. Although Hatcher is happy to take care of Alice, she rightly is a bit concerned about that in of itself. Her memory is hazy of the time before the imprisonment, and so she is untrusting of mostly everyone. But when your surroundings are a division between the New and Old City, and the Old City is full of human trafficking, sex slavery, and drugging and too-disturbing-to-be-real descriptions, it sort of makes sense. If this gives you any sort of idea of the world Henry has built, it’s easy for you as a reader to see Alice’s fears. Especially of the Rabbit. Without revealing too much, the Rabbit is probably the largest antagonist and the most disturbing, because he exists primarily as a figure from Alice’s past, whom you know just enough about to be deeply unsettled.

Moving on from me rambling about characters, the length of the book is tremendously formulated, and I didn’t feel the book went too fast or too slow in any really way. The magical elements of the story are expertly deployed to help the book along where the plot leaves some blanks – and who doesn’t like some Warlocks? What also helps the story along is the writing style. As it is with writing, it’s difficult to accurately describe how Christina Henry really captures my attention. Her style is direct, while seeming to take every detail into account.

My ultimate recommendation for anyone who loves darker themes. I realize it’s not Halloween, but this retelling of Alice in Wonderland is honestly really good, AND I’ve found out there is a sequel coming out next year titled Red Queen. Quite Appropriate, I think.

One last thing: Trigger warning for those who do not want to read about rape. It’s a large theme in this book. I appreciate that it helps along the plot and plays a large role, but for those of us who do not want to read about it – you are duly warned.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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