Last year, I read and loved Christina Henry’s über-dark Alice in Wonderland retelling, Alice. It was one of my favorite books of the year. Lewis Carroll’s classic is one of my favorites, and I adored Henry’s take on the characters. This year, Alice and Hatcher are back with the sequel to Alice, Red Queen.
Because this is a sequel, I’m not going to give too much away, lest I spoil the first book for any of you who want to read it (and you should). If you’re interested, you can check out my review of Alice to get an idea of what the story is about. Obviously, Alice survived the first book, and now she’s on a new quest in the second. Which leads her straight to the White Queen, a mad ruler who terrorizes the citizens of the small town under her domain. As the White Queen wars with the Black King, a mysterious being made of smoke and fire, the two magicians destroy everything in their paths. And when the White Queen takes the one thing Alice loves, she must confront the evil queen, and take it back. Like a game of chess, the pieces are already set, but someone needs to make the first move.
This is rather like a game of chess, isn’t it? A White Queen and a Black king and all the little pieces – me and Hatcher and the children from the village – moving in between, trying not to get swiped.
Unfortunately, I did not love this book as much as I did Alice. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. But it was also slow. And it lacked almost all of the characters I loved in Alice. The first probably fifty percent of this book was honestly too slow for me. I wasn’t that motivated to continue, and I kept waiting for something to catch my interest. Luckily, around that halfway mark, it picked up, and I did enjoy the second half. I missed a lot of the interesting characters that were in the first book. This one didn’t seem quite as dark, and I was missing that underworld element of the story. Which totally makes sense, because a lot of the first book takes place underground, and very little of Red Queen does. But, still, I wish this book had had the same feeling as the first one, because that’s one of the things I really enjoyed about it.
I didn’t love this book as a sequel. It seemed like a completely different book, with a few of the same characters (and what happens to one of those characters – one I really loved in the first book – was sad). I also thought it was strange that at the end of the first book, the two main characters set out on a quest, and the majority of this book felt as if they were letting themselves get distracted from that quest. It was like a tangent. (It ended up being relevant, but I spent most of the book wondering when they were going to get back to what they were trying to accomplish.) At some point, I decided to view Red Queen as a standalone, and stop comparing it to Alice, and I ended up liking it so much more that way. Because, ultimately, I did enjoy the story. It just didn’t quite fit with the first book.
You’d better start believing in the impossible, Alice, for the impossible will keep happening.
Honestly, this is probably a 3/3.5-star rating as part of the series. But once I decided to view this book on its own, it was a 4-star book. Mostly because, while I really liked the second half of the book, the first half felt kind of unnecessary. I honestly don’t remember very much from that portion of the book.
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.