SERIES: THE CHRONICLES OF ALICE
GENRE: FANTASY, HORROR, RETELLINGS AND ADULT
PAGES: Alice and Red Queen: 291 pages (Paperback edition)
‘Alice knew well, better than anyone, the dangers of curiosity.’
The two books in The Chronicles of Alice series are Alice and Red Queen. In the beginning of book one, we meet Alice as she resides in a mental asylum (‘the hospital’) in the Old City. Alongside Alice is her friend Hatcher whom is in the adjacent cell to hers at the hospital. The two have communicated only through a small mouse hole on the wall that connects their cell for ten years. Despite this barrier, the two have formed an uncanny and somewhat romantic relationship.
If you weren’t able to gather from the titles, Alice and Red Queen are retellings of Alice in Wonderland. Although the characters from the original tale are recognisable, if you aren’t fond of retellings that stray fat from the source material, then this isn’t the series for you.
‘The world gobbles us and chews and swallows us, I think happy endings must be accidents.’
Christina Henry’s world is much darker than the Wonderland we are familiar with. In this series, Alice’s world is segregated into the pristine and fair New City, and the more bleak and dangerous Old City. Magic also is considered non-existent, as the Magician’s living in the Old City were hunted out years ago.
Upon escaping from the hospital, Hatcher (whom carries Seer blood), can sense the dangerous Jabberwocky, whom also escaped from the hospital the night it went ablaze. Despite Alice’s disbelief in the Jabberwocky, Hatcher’s fearlessness and drive for blood lead them on a quest to conquer the Jabberwocky.
‘You do not wish for a quiet respectable life. You had one of those and you ran from it, ran to a life of blood and death.’
Alice Henry’s writing style has a very readable quality to it. The beautiful simplicity of it made her Wonderland incredibly easy to absorb. I also loved how these books were relatively short for fantasy books, as each book is just under 300 pages. I appreciate how the author didn’t unnecessarily drag the book on any longer for the sake of things, as I liked how concise this story was. I was actually able to read both books in a week back to back, which is not usual for me!
Unfortunately the ‘horror’ aspect felt really lacklustre, which was kind of my main motivation for reading these books. Although, this could be dependent on what your idea of horror is. Personally, I anticipate to be made fearful or or frightened. I’m not someone who’s very easily scared from books and I felt very little suspense or tension throughout. However, Christina Henry’s world consisted of a lot of vivid and graphic descriptions of horrible things that although didn’t shock me, it may shock other readers.
To anyone considering going into these books, I must give a huge trigger warning for sexual violence of any sort. These book’s are pretty rife with it.