Author – Christina Henry
Publisher – Ace/Penguin Random House LLC
Genre – Horror/Retelling
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
In Christina Henry’s Alice, we are first introduced to our protagonist Alice as she lies within an asylum, 10 years after having escaped the Rabbit. Left with no past memories of her previous imprisonment or escape from the rabbit, her only remaining piece of sanity comes in the form of a friendship developed with Hatcher who happens to share the room next to her. The spend their days communicating through a mouse-hole never actually seeing more than a glimpse of one another. One evening a fire erupts and the unlikely pair escape together and flee deep within to Old Town.
Alice and Hatcher soon discover however, that they are not the only ones who have fled from the burning asylum that housed them for so many years. The Jabberwocky has been released from the bowels below and is on the hunt. A beast that will destroy everything within its path, and it is now on their trail. Solely tasked with seeking out the a magical blade that can defeat the Jabberwocky, the unlikely pair find themselves forced to face their grisly past as they delve deeper into Old City encountering the territorial bosses such as Cheshire and Caterpillar.
Alice is exactly as it appears to be at first glance, a retelling of the classic Alice in Wonderland. However, looks can be very deceiving. Alice in Wonderland has been one of my absolute favorite stories for as long as I can remember, so I always feel a mixture of excitement and hesitation when it comes to new adaptations of this timeless tale. It has been re-envisioned multiple times throughout the years in many forms. I have enjoyed and occasionally found disappointment in many Wonderland themed stories, video games, movies and even manga.
Christine Henry has taken this classic tale and stripped it of all happiness and whimsy. The end result is a unique and disturbing twist on the story of Alice and her adventures that is not going to be for everyone. The setting is dark, gruesome and does contain sexual violence. They characters we have come to know over the years take on an entirely new and psychotic persona in this macabre tale.
“One day, long ago, she’d gone seeking an adventure and found terror instead. That day had changed the course of her life, and left her hands awash in blood. It was not her fault, but this was how it must be. She understood that now.”
I found myself easily completing Alice within two days. As a fan of horror and Wonderland themes, I was unable to put this title down. Christina Henry’s writing was fluid and Alice seized my interest during the very first chapter. Character development was appropriately paced, building the mystery and intrigue that I have come to expect in a good horror title. I would have easily provided this book with five stars where it not for the ending. While I did not find the ending entirely disappointing, it felt as though the story became rushed during the final chapters. There was a point where everything began to move faster than necessary while I was left expecting more detail from the character encounters. However, the overall result was a terrifying and original spin on a classic that is worth reading. I am looking forward to the sequel The Red Queen.