The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.
ON SALE TODAY (July 21, 2020) – $2.99 on Kindle!
This is one of those books that immediately jumped on my to-be-read pile. Alice in Wonderland retelling, check. Black heroine, check! “What if Buffy fell down the rabbit hole?” CHECK!!!
And then life conspired to get in my way. I’m woefully late to the party on this, but I’m happy to start my own little party here! L.L. McKinney adds an awesome twist to the Wonderland mythos. I loved the balance that she hit between nodding to the original and creating her own mythology and world.
I loved the overall world-building here. Both in the real world, which felt disturbingly real, and dangerous – for L.L. McKinney doesn’t pull any punches on what it’s like to grow up Black in the United States. And in Wonderland – which was surreal and more dangerous than I could even guess. Nightmares, born of pain, haunt Wonderland – and sometimes make it through the doors to our world.
These doors are guarded, and the door nearest to Alice is guarded by Addison Hatta. Not only is it his duty to guard the door, he must train humans to kill the Nightmares, something only humans can do. Alice is his latest protégé, whom he finds when she wanders into a Nightmare attack.
That’s where our story starts, and it just keeps punching at you. Alice doesn’t just have to juggle keeping humanity safe from Nightmares, she also has to juggle school, friends, and her (understandably) worried mother. I LOVE that Alice has a mother, and not just has a mother, she has a mother who cares, who worries, who actually parents.
When Alice doesn’t make curfew her mother worries, not about Nightmares which she knows nothing about, but because Alice is a Black girl in a country that has consistently shown how dangerous it is for her.
Being white I’ve not experienced this first hand – obviously – but I have experienced the fear of being a woman. The fear that drives me to constantly scan my surroundings, that makes me itemize possible weapons. Like a lot of women I’ve planned what I’d do in situations, because trying to plan when things are going to shit is impossible. So knowing ahead of time is smart.
The additional fear and planning and rules that have to be added when you’re Black? Take what I know to the nth degree. Because I have to worry about men in general, but I don’t really have to worry about people in positions of authority, because my skin gives me privilege.
So when Alice’s mom freaks out, grounding her, guilting her for being out past curfew without even letter her know she was okay: I get it. And I get why Alice couldn’t let her know. Time passes funny in Wonderland.
I love Alice’s mom – and I hope that she confides in her mom at some point. Mostly, I want to see more of this relationship.
Time passes funny in Wonderland. If I had to sum up my one main issue while reading it was understanding the passage of time. I think some of this is deliberate, but at the same time I struggled to know when we were, which made everything a bit surreal – not in a good way – for me. I had some moments where I got lost. But it’s a pretty minor complaint, because the rest of the story, characters, and world? Pretty awesome.
I’m excited to see what happens next – especially after the cliff-hanger and all the revelations. Plus I like that there’s a smart-ass villain. Wonder what he’s gonna do next – and who he is….