Monday, February 4, 2019

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney Review

Title: A Blade So Black
Author: L.L. McKinney
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: A Blade So Black, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                A Blade So Black has been on my library hold list since it first came out last year, so when I was finally finished with Onyx and Ivory, I pushed it up to the top of my stack, eager to dive in. Alice in Wonderland has always been one of my favorite stories, ever since I saw Disney’s animated version as a child. But I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for a retelling like this one, with a hilarious, nerdy and spunky black Alice in the spotlight! This is Wonderland as you’ve never seen before, full of dangerous magic, heart-pounding action and adventure, forbidden love and darkness, and I loved every moment of it!

                Alison ‘Alice’ Kingston tries her best to be a normal teenager, but that’s pretty much impossible when she goes back and forth between busy Atlanta and Wonderland—yes, that Wonderland. She protects the human world from monsters called Nightmares, trained from the age of sixteen by the mysterious, charismatic Addison Hatta—Hatta for short. But her already crazy further careens out of control when her beloved mentor is poisoned by a wicked, black knight, and Alice must journey farther into Wonderland than she’s ever been before in order to find the answers she so desperately seeks. To add to all of this literal life or death stress, her two lives—normal teenage Alice and fledgling hero Alice—begin to collide, risking everything she holds dear. Hearts will break, heads will roll, and Alice must tap into the strength she never knew she had to save everyone she loves and drive back the dark…

                This book was so refreshing! Retellings are one of my favorite subgenres; I’m such a sucker for a new spin on a classic tale, and I loved that the main character, the heroine, was black! The world has been waiting for a more diverse Alice for a long time, and McKinney more than delivered on that score. Diverse books for the win! I was immediately drawn into Alice’s world, from the very first line, and the pacing was breakneck; A Blade So Black grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until the breathtaking, cliffhanger conclusion. I also adored McKinney’s vivid, dark skewing of Wonderland; it carried the threads of what I’ve always imagined that world to be like, but with a good, healthy dose of darkness, monsters, gore and curses! I loved the characters, each felt like a new friend, from Alice, the young woman trying to juggle two lives, Hatta, her beloved, sexy mentor with more than his own fair share of secrets to hide, Maddi, the whimsical barkeep, Chess, friendly, sweet, and quiet, and Alice’s best friend, Court, hilarious on her own; I loved her! I also really liked Alice’s mom; she was one of my favorite characters in the whole book. And the mysterious Black Knight! Oh, my goodness, after that ending, I need answers! How am I supposed to wait until September for the sequel?! I’m dying here! My only quibble with this was that I wish we knew more about the people who came before Alice and Hatta, and the romantic tension was killing me! The bottom line: A beautiful, diverse and action-packed retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I loved A Blade So Black! Next on deck: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare!

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