I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Published by Imprint on September 25, 2018
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice's handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.
I honestly don’t even know how to begin this review. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2018 and it was SO GOOD. It exceeded my expectations in every way. I loved the world – this version of Wonderland was original, incredible, dark and creeptastic. I loved the characters – heck, I even loved the villains!!! How does THAT happen?!?!? I loved the writing. And I loved that it had a black heroine because YA books need more strong WOC. I don’t want to talk too much on that, though, because I don’t want to speak outside my lane; instead, I recommend you check out Goodreads, where there are a number of reviews by own voices reviewers.
As for the rest of my review.. Wow. There really are no words, so please ignore my babbling. I’ll start with the characters, since you all know I’m very character driven and the characters in this book were all so amazing.
Alice was strong, fierce, snarky, and sassy. She also cosplayed Sailor Moon, so she’s a girl after my own heart! Like, Alice saying “cosmic moon power” to psych herself up gave me life!
I LOVE The Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat, so whenever I read an Alice in Wonderland retelling, I’m always eager to see how they’ll be represented. I’m not 100% sure who this book’s version of the Cheshire Cat was (maybe Chess?), but Addison Hatta made for an EPIC Mad Hatter. He was described as being a “punk rock Prince Charming.” So, naturally, I swooned. But the thing that really sealed the deal for me? THE REVELATION ABOUT HIS PAST!!!!!!!!!!! I KNEW IT BUT IT WAS STILL A SHOCK AND I TOTALLY LOVED IT!!!!!!!!! I can’t go into further detail without spoilers but SO GOOD OMG!!!!
In my opinion, Maddi was this book’s Caterpillar. I was super intrigued by her, and I’m eager to learn more about her – what she is, who she is, her background – especially after THAT ending. WTH?!?!?!?!
Dee and Dem were clearly Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and THEY WERE DESCRIBED AS BEING TEENAGE VERSIONS OF SPIKE FROM BUFFY, I’M GONNA CRY!!!!!! Like, at one point, Dee said something and it was such a Spike thing to say, I actually saw and heard Spike saying it in my mind, bahaha!! Also, can we talk about the Duchess and the fact that she was basically Anastasia?
I should NOT like the Black Knight. He’s the VILLAIN! But he was so cheeky and hilarious and there’s DEFINITELY something more to him than we’re seeing so far. I want to know who he is, where he comes from, why he’s doing this, who he works for – like, I NEED to know. Now. Please? I NEED TO KNOW!!!
And let’s not forget Xelon and Odabeth and all that adorableness!!!!!!! Also can we talk about the Frubbles and how badly I want one?!?!?!?!?!
I mean, honestly, this book was just perfection, and so were the characters. I LOVED this version of Wonderland. Figment Blades. Nightmares. The Veil. The Looking Glass Pub. I loved that nighttime in Wonderland was so creepy and dangerous – it was very fitting. Also, HER TWO CATS ARE NAMED LEWIS AND CAROL LIKE COME ON HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS BOOK AND THIS WORLD??
The pop culture references gave me life. Obviously there were Alice In Wonderland (duh), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (duh) and Sailor Moon (duh) references. But also, like I said, it had Anastasia references and Harry Potter (!!!!) references.
And then that ending. Wow. Like… Whoa. Like… I don’t think I assumed this would be a stand-alone, but I didn’t think about it in terms of it potentially being a series, either. So now that we have a cliffhanger ending and I know there’s potential for a second book, I’m SERIOUSLY FREAKING OUT!!! Like, I NEED IT, GUYS!! I NEED IT ASAP!!!!
Obviously, if you couldn’t tell from my flailing, fangirly review (seriously, if you couldn’t tell.. are you okay..?), I HIGHLY AND COMPLETELY AND 100% recommend this book to everyone. It was utter perfection and everyone needs to read it. Don’t argue with me, just do it! Now! ASAP!!! Seriously, you won’t be disappointed – especially if you love Alice in Wonderland retellings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sailor Moon.