Book Review: Alice #1 (The Chronicles of Alice) by Christina Henry

Being a lifelong fan of Alice in Wonderland there was no hesitation to buy this book, and what’s more, I learned that there was a second instalment to this retelling of a personal favourite classic. 

The synopsis on the back cover is as follows.

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

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blonde, 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 longs 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.

And to find the truth, she will have to track back this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

The blurb depicts that it’s dark and disturbing, and it certainly is. Within the first chapter it tells of distressing events that have happened in the past, and further within the book, it becomes even more unsettling. It’s so far from Lewis Carroll’s imagination that you can’t help but marvel, in a non-sadistic way, the author’s harshness and ruthlessness.  

As with Carroll’s original and fabulous version, this unique edition also takes unexpected gritty twists. It removes our extraordinary beloved characters and turns them upside down, being completely different to whom we knew so well. They are defintely not what they seem, and have been weaved drastically. Some for the good, and most for the utter worst.

And Alice is not the curious girl we all knew from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland either. She’s a frightened, timid and unstable woman who has no major recollection of her past. But she’s aware that it was an evil one. However, she continually and bravely changes as the story presses on, and thankfully for the better.

What was Carroll’s light-hearted, happy, dizzying version; this, by Christina Henry, is the complete opposite. It’s somber, gruesome, horrifying and fantastic. 

For all that it was such a great read, I gave it a four star on Goodreads. Even though I loved the story, and enjoyed reading how the characters differed from both authors, I couldn’t help but notice that it was a little repetitive. Granted, it seldom happened, but I felt as though I didn’t need to read certain things often as I did. I was already aware of what was happening, due to those specific repeated details being the main focal point within the majority of the story. The sameness was redundant, and if it hadn’t have been so, I would’ve given it a solid five star rating.

Nevertheless, I’m eager to start the second book, The Red Queen, for it sounds just as amazing as the first. It also makes me wonder, without sounding barbaric and completely twisted, whether the same grittiness will be included.

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