A BLADE SO BLACK
RELEASED OUT NOW! 396 pages | Paperback/ebook
Author ll McKinney
Publisher titan books Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is one of the most heavily-mined texts in fantasy fiction, its imagery and set-pieces endlessly borrowed – yet very rarely are any of the homages half as weird as the original. LL McKinney’s A Blade So Black is no exception, but it’s still a good novel. It’s about Alice, a black teenager in modern-day Atlanta, who stumbles upon the dream realm of Wonderland – and, in a Buffy-style twist, is invited to help fight the monsters that come from there.
McKinney’s style is vivid and her plotting is deft: she starts with Alice’s first meeting with her mentor from Wonderland, Addison Hatta, but skips over all the business of coming to terms with the existence of this world, taking us straight to a point where Alice is all trained up and splitting her time between hunting monsters and trying to live a normal teenage life. But then the nightmare creatures that cross over from Wonderland to the human world start to become mysteriously stronger...
The only lingering doubt is that the Lewis Carroll connection doesn’t add very much to a well-realised fantasy world with an interesting mythology of its own; it could easily have been a successful standalone novel. Still, the Wonderland imagery gives the book an extra hook – plus more material to mine for any future sequels.