Author: Christina Henry
Info: Ace, copyright 2015, 291 pages
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
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
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
Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.
And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very
heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.
After reading and thoroughly enjoying Henry's Lost Boy (an origin story for Captain Hook), I knew I would have to give Alice a read. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite classic tales, and Alice retellings are pretty much always my cup of tea. I had a feeling this one would be intense after the rather gory and violent Peter Pan adaptation, but...
We meet Alice as a patient in an institution for the mentally insane. She remembers very little about the event that made her a little crazy (there's something about a rabbit...) but whatever it was was pretty horrendous. In the cell next door is Hatcher, an equally "crazy" individual who communicates with Alice through a small hole in the wall. Hatcher also has a sketchy past and is now being tormented by the evil Jabberwocky who communicates with him telepathically. The two eventually escape into the Old City and realize that it is their destiny to hunt down the Jabberwocky and kill him before he wreaks havoc on the world they know.
but...this one was maybe a little too much for me. There are only two women in the whole book who are not sexually assaulted or defiled in some really (really) disturbing ways. That element alone seemed way overdone, and while I liked Alice's eventual courage, the trope of rape and abuse was a bit irritating after while and borderline offensive.
The take on the story that I loved was interesting and despite my frustrations with the book, I looked forward to seeing how each of the original characters were weaved into the tale. It was also interesting that our two heroes were actually in fact villains and the story kind of became a competition to determine who was the lesser of all the evils.
As for the sequel - I think I'm going to skip that one. I like a little blood and violence (yes, I know how that sounds), but I think I have my fill of Henry's for awhile.
And yet, I'm still giving it -
It would probably be 2.5, but a picture of half a gnome just seems sad.