Title/Author: The Chronicles of Alice: ‘Alice’ and ‘Red Queen’ by Christina Henry
Verdict: 4/5, 4/5 (Respectively)
In a nutshell:
Alice: In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.
Red Queen: Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful. And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.
The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. A place where Alice could finally rest, no longer the plaything of the Rabbit, the pawn of Cheshire, or the prey of the Jabberwocky. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash—and hope is nowhere to be found.
Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King.
The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen…
“Alice dreamed of blood. Blood on her hands and under her feet, blood in her mouth and pouring from her eyes. The room was filled with it.”
In ‘Alice’, after escaping the fire in the asylum hospital with Hatcher, with whom she befriended during her time there, Alice and Hatchet decided to venture into Old City in search of their old enemies (all of whom are big time gangsters in the Old City) to settle old scores, while seeking a way to take down the biggest villain of them all – the most-feared, ever elusive, Jabberwock. The book ended with them defeating the Jabberwock.
Their adventure continued in ‘Red Queen’, this time, in search for Hatcher’s daughter, Jenny. In this sequel, they entered a forest enchanted by the White Queen, and were met with giants, a goblin and wolves! It wasn’t until later, when more of the story attached to Hatcher’s missing daughter was divulged, that we met Red Queen, and found out about the ravaging war between Black King and White Queen. Things got pretty unpredictable and creepy after that. Beware of the goblin!
What I enjoyed most is Henry’s creativity in combining the original Alice and adding her own style and signature to it. I loved how she put her own spin on Walrus, Caterpillar, Cheshire and Rabbit! And oh Rabbit! What a character! Alice had been warned of him, but her fate was to meet him, plus he. just. wouldn’t. leave. her. alone! He was always, always, haunting and taunting her, in her mind and her memories.
‘His hand on her braid, wrapping around it, pulling her head back so she could look into his eyes, his blue-green eyes so angry… eyes snapping, hand pulling her hair until she cried, his voice cracking like a whip, “Where do you think you’re off to, pretty Alice? Alice. Alice.”’
And of course the ever-present, and also my favorite, the ‘all-knowing’ Cheshire!
Just one teeny-weeny thing. I found a little put-off though, by how easily Alice defeated those honchos, especially the Jabberwock. Nobody in the entire town could defeat any of them, except Alice, who had been hungry and famished for days. She didn’t even have to put up a fight! Could’ve added some bad-ass Alice fighting scenes in there and put her beginner-level magical prowess in action, and probably some wee-bit of suspense 🙂
In ‘Red Queen’, I liked how the relationship between Alice and Hatcher developed – how each became the protector of the other. Hatcher in the first book, Alice in the other. The build-up to their feelings was gradual and it felt so natural, even though…(read below):
‘Her prince was not a bear, but a madman. Alice had learned that you could not choose whom to love. If royalty appeared out of nowhere and offered her a future, she would have to turn away from it, because Alice could never love any other but the one with grey eyes and bloodstained hands.’
And the twists and turns that happened in the most unlikely of places and time, kept me on the edge of my seat! Well, for me, at least haha! And unlike the first book, ‘Red Queen’ was slower and focused more on Alice and her self-discovery – how she gradually realized her magical powers and how to use them, and how she became more confident of herself as she ventured into the woods without the help of Hatcher, whom she relied a lot in ‘Alice’.
‘She didn’t have to be Cheshire’s ideal of a Magician or Hatcher’s ideal of a lover or her parents’ ideal of a daughter. She could be Alice.’
So question now is, which do I prefer?
Although many preferred ‘Alice’ to ‘Red Queen’, I like them both equally. They’re both enjoyable, just different in their own way! I’m now hoping to read The Mermaid!
I’m going to end this review with one of my favorite quotes in Alice:
“Start by holding your head high,” Hatcher said. “You’re only a mouse if you let them make you one.”
I think that is such an important reminder!
If you’re a fan of fairytale retellings, especially Alice’s, dive into this! Just be wary of the cakes and drinks served! You can never be sure if they are what they are! *wink*
Have you read this? Did you enjoy it? Also I’d love to read more retellings! Any recommendations?