Book Review: Red Queen by Christina Henry

27246122Title: Red Queen

Author: Christina Henry

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Horror, Retellings, Adult, Fiction

Publisher: Ace

Published: July 12, 2016

Page Amount: 291 pages

Blurb From Goodreads: 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…

Why Read: Besides the obvious fact that I read the first book in this series (Alice) and I absolutely adored every bit of the disturbing surrealist take on Alice in Wonderland, there are some… other reasons. There’s always some doubt when a second book comes to take on the immediate success of the first book. The concept, though, of more characters, even more twisted and disturbed – appeals to me. You can imagine then, how easy it was to convince myself to read yet another Alice read.

Review: When dealing with a retelling of a classic, especially something as well-known as Alice in Wonderland, there’s a certain element of caution. Can you really adapt the characters to suit your needs? Will there be pushback from a fan base after you make certain characters more or less your own? Thankfully, Christina Henry must share none of these concerns and I couldn’t be happier that someone has taken liberties with Alice in Wonderland. After seeing and reading the classic, and marveling at the Syfy adaption Alice – we all should be ready for something a bit darker to hit the Alice universe.

To be frank, the first book in the Alice series was disturbing, extremely concerning, and absolutely engrossing. I found myself unable to put the book down and within hours – it was gone. For the sequel? It was exactly the same. The characters of Hatcher (read: Mad Hatter), and Alice have found their way to the end of the horrors of the first book – only to be met with more of the same. Both of the protagonists have changed, they are no longer the same from what we remember. Alice has grown in some ways, but remains stunted in others while Hatcher…. well, humanity still has some way to go with that one.

The plot moves quickly, and although a lot of backstory is necessary in this particular spin-off – I never found myself bored. Moreover, what I expected to pass never passed. It’s odd to find books that surprise you in this day and age where every action book is the Avengers and every hero is Jack Reacher, and it’s pleasant to not know who the antagonist will turn out to be, or what the origins of the Black King, Red Queen and White Queen will turn out to be. Of course, there are elements of original plot and for that, I’m grateful – but certainly a bit of surprise is always appreciated.

All in all – this book comes extremely highly recommended from me. Especially if you’re interested in horrid details that you probably didn’t need (but you secretly wanted) in the first place.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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