A blade so black

L. L. McKinney

Book - 2018

"This isn't the Wonderland you remember. 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-ti...me 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. "--Dust jacket.

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Subjects
Genres
Urban fiction
Fantasy fiction
Action and adventure fiction
Published
New York : Imprint, a part of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC [2018]
Language
English
Physical Description
370 pages : 22 cm
ISBN
9781250153906
1250153905
Main Author
L. L. McKinney (author)
Other Authors
Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898 (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* McKinney delivers an explosive, kick-ass debut, described by the author herself as, "What if Buffy fell down the rabbit hole instead of Alice?" This Alice is a black teen girl who is first seen fleeing a hospital after learning of her dad's death. She then stumbles upon Wonderland resident Addison Hatter and witnesses him battling a Nightmare, an evil entity from the dream realm of Wonderland that, as a mortal, Alice isn't supposed to be able to see. Her ability to see these dark, pernicious beings marks her as a human who can kill Nightmares instead of simply sending them back to Wonderland. As a result, Addison begins training Alice to battle Nightmare creatures. When Addison is poisoned, Alice must find an antidote by journeying into the heart and bowels of Wonderland—a place that is as dangerous as it is whimsical, as deadly as it is beautiful. McKinney breathes new life and fierce empowerment into Carroll's classic. Her Wonderland is menacing, lush, and unique and populated by nuanced characters that are fleshed out and refreshingly authentic. This is the Alice in Wonderland retelling the world has always needed. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Ever since police in Atlanta, Ga., killed an unarmed black girl at a school football game, Alice Kingston's mother has watched Alice like a hawk. The attention is proving problematic for the 17-year-old black Dreamwalker, who secretly guards the city's Gateway to Wonderland (the "collective unconscious of the entire world") and slays any monsters (aka "Nightmares") that attempt to cross over. Alice is pondering retirement when her mentor, Addison Hatta, contracts a mysterious disease dubbed the Madness. Fellow Dreamwalkers Dimitri and Demarcus Tweedlanov join Alice on a quest to secure help from the White Queen, but when they find the queen similarly afflicted, Alice realizes that she might have to risk more than a grounding in order to save the day. Relentless action, spiraling stakes, and a fierce heroine distinguish debut author McKinney's fantasy update of Alice in Wonderland. The mechanics of Wonderland, its features, and its creatures sometimes feel hastily sketched, and secondary characters lack depth, but McKinney's imagination knows few bounds, and Alice's devotion to the others is contagious. A heartbreaking cliffhanger will leave fans clamoring for a sequel. Ages 14–up. (Sept.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Alice is attacked by a Nightmare the night her father dies. She is saved and mentored by Addison Hatta, a handsome and mysterious Curiouser who decides to train her in becoming a Dreamwalker—a destroyer of Nightmares with magic weapons—in Wonderland. Her overprotective mother worries about her in their urban Atlanta community. Her high-maintenance best friend, Court, anticipates a huge birthday celebration at a time when it clashes with Alice's secret and near-deadly Dreamwalker life. Alice finds herself attracted to both Hatta and friend Chess. When Hatta is poisoned with the Madness at the hands of the Black Knight, Alice has to find the Heart and Eye antidotes, which have been hidden and misplaced in Wonderland. She receives help from unexpected characters on a life-defining journey to defeat the Black Knight, Nightmares, and Fiends—and to save herself from losing her head. McKinney has infused this urban contemporary retelling of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer sensibility and "Black Girl Magic." Readers will enjoy the acerbic sarcasm and comedy. The inclusion of various cultures, skin tones, languages, ages, and sexual orientations is expertly woven into the narrative and world-building. Teens will root for Alice as a strong, multidimensional black girl usually unseen in YA fiction. The novel's pace slows at times, but it will keep readers in suspense. VERDICT This is a must-purchase where refreshing urban fantasies and retellings are in demand.—Donald Peebles, Brooklyn Public Library Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"This isn't the Wonderland you remember. 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"--Jacket flap.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

By day, Alice juggles a slipping GPA, a high-maintenance best friend, and an overprotective mom, but by night she heads to the dark realm known as Wonderland to battle monstrous creatures to save her mentor.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"A Blade So Black is the fantasy book I've been waiting for my whole life."—Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Hate U GiveFor fans of Marissa Meyer, L.L. McKinney's A Blade So Black delivers an irresistible urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland... but it's not the Wonderland you remember. 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.Debut author L.L. McKinney delivers an action-packed twist on an old classic, full of romance and otherworldly intrigue.And don't miss the thrilling sequel, A Dream So Dark!An Imprint Book"Mixing elements of Alice in Wonderland and Buffy the Vampire Slayer... Delectable." —Entertainment Weekly