"A Blade So Black" by L.L. McKinney is a modern retelling of Lewis Carroll's classic story "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" with a unique twist. While the book offers an imaginative concept and diverse representation, it falls well short in many aspects of execution.
The story follows the protagonist, Alice Kingston, a young African-American girl from Atlanta who becomes a "Dreamwalker." In this urban fantasy setting, Dreamwalkers battle supernatural creatures in Wonderland to protect the real world. McKinney introduces a compelling concept by blending contemporary urban life with Wonderland's whimsical and dangerous realm.
One of the strengths of "A Blade So Black" is its focus on representation and diversity. The book features diverse characters, including an African-American protagonist, and explores themes of identity, self-discovery, and the challenges marginalized communities face. McKinney's depiction of a multicultural and modern Wonderland adds a refreshing twist to the well-known tale.
Additionally, the action sequences in the novel are vividly described and offer moments of excitement and suspense. Wonderland's imaginative and often treacherous landscapes provide a thrilling backdrop for Alice's battles against supernatural foes. McKinney's writing style is engaging, making it easy to become immersed in the story.
However, "A Blade So Black" does have some drawbacks. The book's pacing is uneven, with slow moments that impede the overall flow of the narrative. Some readers may find that the story takes a while to truly take off, potentially leading to a lack of engagement in the initial chapters.
Furthermore, the characterization and development of the supporting cast could have been stronger. While Alice is a well-developed protagonist with relatable struggles and growth, the secondary characters often feel underdeveloped or lacking depth. This limits the emotional connection readers may form with these characters and reduces their impact on the overall story.
Lastly, some readers have noted that the connection to Lewis Carroll's original work may feel somewhat forced or contrived at times. While the concept of a modern Wonderland is intriguing, the execution of the adaptation may not fully capture the whimsical and surreal essence of Carroll's classic.
In conclusion, "A Blade So Black" offers an imaginative and diverse retelling of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" with a contemporary urban twist. While it succeeds in representation and introduces a fascinating concept, it struggles with pacing issues and underdeveloped supporting characters and story. Despite its flaws, fans of urban fantasy and reimagined fairy tales may still find enjoyment in this unique take on Wonderland.