Alice by Christina Henry

Rating: 3.5 of 5

9780425266793A journey of recovery, self-discovery, and empowerment rather than solely a quest to vanquish evil. And possibly the darkest retelling of Alice or Wonderland that I’ve experienced to date.

Sprinkled with evidence of familiarity with other retellings, both page and screen, and populated with many of Carroll’s characters, albeit in name only, Henry’s Alice showed much originality which was almost eclipsed by its extreme brutality. I’d put it more in the realm of dark fantasy than purist horror, though. Sure it’s packed with fantastical creatures, magic, violence and sexual exploitation, and there was a hefty creep factor, but I just didn’t feel the underlying element of innate terror I find critical to qualifying a work as “horror.”

The pace moved along quickly and Alice did grow as a person over the course of the story, but her transformation at the end was too abrupt for me. As was the climax that resolved itself within a few pages. Part of me was hoping the story would close on a cliffhanger – after Alice and Hatch set off from the Walrus’ lair to confront the Rabbit – because I feared the ending would be too quick otherwise. At least there’s supposed to be a part two published in 2016.

Certainly this Alice was not written for those seeking a faithful retelling nor would it would suit those who avoid graphic violence and rape. However, if you’ve a strong stomach and high threshold for triggers such as rape, on top of an almost obsession to read everything even loosely related to Alice and/or Wonderland, you’ll probably love this version.

Footnote: I, for one, look forward to where Henry takes Alice and Hatch in Red Queen: The Chronicles of Alice, but I’ll freely admit to hoping it’s (A LOT) less rapey than part one.

Read an excerpt on the publisher’s website.

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

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