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Alice by Christina Henry

For those of you that don't know, I am an absolute SUCKER for anything Alice in Wonderland. I love the books, the movies, the weird things that sit on my shelves just for the sake of being there, all of the above. I thought that I had read all of the books out there based on Lewis Carroll's famous ramblings, until the second of this series – titled Red Queen - came into the store. Naturally, I followed down the rabbit hole until I found this: Alice by Christina Henry. I devoured these two books while I was sick and LOVED THEM.

What surprised me was the intense darkness of these books, especially the first one. For those fellow Carroll fans and/ or video gamers, it reminded me a lot of the video games American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns – a psychological horror action-adventure series in which Alice returns to a warped Wonderland after spending ten years in an asylum. In Henry's world, Alice – once of the aristocratic New City – has been committed to an abusive asylum in the dangerous gang-ridden Old City where she has spent the last ten years with only the company of a voice on the other side of a mouse hole – that of a man who massacred with an axe referred to as the "Mad Hatcher". Both bond over the years meant to be spent alone, and in their blotched memories, twisted nightmares, and nasty run-ins with the hospital staff. When the hospital mysteriously catches fire, Hatcher saves both Alice and himself from the flames only to realize that they are 1. alone in a town full of criminals, rapists, drug lords, and magical gang leaders (Cheshire, the Walrus, the Carpenter, Caterpillar, etc... ), and they are 2. on the run from a dangerous creature – the Jabberwocky – previously imprisoned underneath the asylum.

Neither one of them can piece together their memories prior to hospital life. Alice only remembers a tea party long ago, a pair of long ears, and blood. Between solving the mystery of her past and fighting to survive the Jabberwocky and keeping Hatcher relatively sane, she finds that the answer to all of her questions can only be found with the creature of her nightmares: The Rabbit. And he awaits the return of his Alice.

It's creepy. It's dark. It's grotesque. For a horror junkie and Alice in Wonderland fanatic, it is the perfect combination. This is definitely a new favorite duology, and I can't wait to get my books signed at Comic Con!

Looking Glass by Christina Henry

If you've read Alice and/ or Red Queen by Christina Henry, then you know that the ending of Alice's journey is far from satisfactory. In the original duology, the Mad Hatcher and his Alice are surviving the horrors of the Old City left to rot just outside of the shiny high-class New City after escaping from a burned down asylum. In Looking Glass -- a collection of four novellas in world of The Chronicles of Alice -- we meet Alice's little sister Elizabeth as she wanders down the wrong alley way, we revisit Alice and Hatcher as they travel abroad (one story per character), and finally we see Alice and Hatcher's last great battle.

I just love Hatcher. Underneath the brooding bloodthirsty ax murderer, he is so funny and sweet and protective of his newfound family. It is so satisfying to finally have a taste of his upbringing in the underground fighting rings of the Old City, and to really feel how far he's come. I also found that I enjoyed Elizabeth, Alice's little sister (both unaware of the other's existence, of course) a lot more than I expected. When I started the first story, I was disappointed with the prissy little New City brat. But as the story progressed and Elizabeth tasted darkness and magic for the first time, she toughened up. I admire that she refused to let this constant mention of the mysterious Alice grind down on who she knew herself to be. She is a lot stronger than one would expect.

Looking Glass is the conclusion to The Chronicles of Alice that I never knew I needed. I loved every moment of it.

“Christina Henry’s Alice takes the darker elements of Lewis Carroll’s original, amplifies Tim Burton’s cinematic reimagining of the story, and adds a layer of grotesquery from her own alarmingly fecund imagination to produce a novel that reads like a Jacobean revenge drama crossed with a slasher movie."

The Guardian (UK)

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