review: alice by christina henry

Published: August 4th 2015
Genres & Keywords: fantasy, retelling, horror, adult
Works From Author: The Chronicles of Alice, Black Wings series

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll…

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.

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.


R A T I N G ★★★★

“Alice! What are you doing?”
“Following the white rabbit, of course.”

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Instead, we’ll just have to settle for 4 stars.

How exceptionally creepy this story was! It’s been a really long time since I last read a horror novel and I hadn’t realize how much I missed it until I picked up Alice. You’re led by the hand, thinking you’re going to encounter a fairytale and instead wake up in a nightmare.

Christina Henry got really creative with this retelling. I had always been a fan of the original, have reading the book and watched the movies, and there was something about this “fairytale” that always fascinated me. This twisted retelling had me thinking back to the Grimm tales and other storytellers who’s story had been edited in order to fit the fairytale mold. Mulan, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty . . . its original tale is much more dark and much more fascinating (I promise I’m not a weirdo).

Alice begins in a mental institution, years after Alice encountered the Rabbit. She has no recollection of her time spent in his presence, save for a few vague details and the nightmares that haunt her. What commences is sordid affair of Jabberwocks, bloody axes, white rabbits, and enough graphic detail to leave you chilled. Part of the fun was trying to piece together her memory and figure out what happened to her all those years ago and why it’s relevant present day.

When they found her all she would say was, “The Rabbit. The Rabbit. The Rabbit.” Over and over.
When she acted like that they said she was mad. Alice knew she wasn’t mad. Maybe.

I don’t want to give too much away, having felt that going in blind really contributed to the reading experience, but it was really interesting to see how the author tied in the original content with her own interpretation. Why I am a big fan of retellings (done right) is because of the author’s ability to weave a unique story while keeping the essence of the original story.

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Trigger warning: rape, abuse, graphic violence
The main reason this didn’t bother me, as many others have stated in their review, is because these actions, especially the rape were never condoned but the character or the author.

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T H O U G H T S ?
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