Alice by Christina Henry is a dark/dystopian fantasy rendition of Alice in Wonderland. And one that I wholly enjoyed. The story follows the main character Alice who the reader joins in her cell where she is locked in an uncaring asylum in the ‘Old City’ alongside her cell neighbour Hatcher. The story follows their break out as well as their quest to defeat the Jabberwocky and the other villains on their journey.
I liked Alice as a character and enjoyed her transition from mouse-like young girl who needed Hatcher’s protection like a lifeline, to someone who was confident in her morals and in her own power. Even though she has been marked by the ‘Rabbit’, she refuses to believe that she belongs to anyone and this is a theme that runs throughout the story as she bumps into the shady figures from her past and uncovers suppressed memories of how she ended up in the asylum.
Hatcher is another interesting character. A Seer from an Old City family he has ties to the Jabberwocky and can sense when he’s close. He is a strong fighter and often ‘sees red’, choosing the option of fight/kill first, figuring the rest out later. He also gets to slowly build up his own lost memories as the story progresses and I grew to really like him as a character.
There are many references to the original Lewis Carrol books with character names such as the obvious Alice, Rabbit, Cheshire, and Jabberwock, but there are subtler links as well such as Hatcher (which I believe is a reference to the Mad Hatter) Dor (for Dormouse) and the references to Roses.
At first read, the ending to me felt a bit like an anti climax, and I was a little let down. However, I read through it again and, upon my second read through, I thought it actually made more sense due to the nature of Alice and the world that they are in, fitting the theme of ‘nothing is quite what you expect’. So, though I was anticipating a large fight scene near the end, it makes sense that it wasn’t there.
So in conclusion, I really enjoyed this book and read it all in one sitting (apart from my reread of the last couple of chapters). It wasn’t too long and I think it really made use of the madness of Alice in Wonderland books and gave it a darker twist that I really enjoyed. I now want to go out and grab the sequel and I hope that’s as good as the original.