by Christina Henry
Series: The Chronicles of Alice #2
Published on July 12, 2016 by Ace
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
The author of Alice takes readers back down the rabbit hole to a dark, twisted, and fascinating world based on the works of Lewis Carroll...
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...
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In Red Queen we have the sequel to Christina Henry’s Chronicles of Alice series. I suppose I hoped for more than this book could offer. Where Alice attempted horror mixed with an odd fantastical theme, Red Queen was a whole other ballpark. Tame isn’t quite the right word but in comparison to the first installment it fits. This book doesn’t have the same horror-esque elements nor does it really feel like a sequel. In fact, you could likely read Alice and be mostly content (though this book certainly wouldn’t work as a standalone). Depending on if you enjoyed Alice (and why), this sequel could be equally perfect and disappointing.
Following the events of the last book, Alice and Hatcher are questing across the plains outside the City in search of his daughter, only to find the land isn’t as beautiful as they imagined. Out here there is magic at work that appears greater than anything Alice ever experienced. So they’re walking across this wasteland and end up in a forest, where it turns out there are more magicians. A queen, the White Queen to be exact, and her Black King.
So wait, where’s the Red Queen the book received its name for? Because clearly if it’s in the title, there must be another queen in the mix.
There is, though I’ll forego mentioning in what capacity. The plot follows along with the traditional questing plot, Alice overcoming one obstacle after another, each with increasing difficulty, until achieving her goal. A very anticlimactic one at that. The White Queen is set out as the villain, with all of this magical power and an insanity that makes her presence all the more terrible. I expected a battle of sorts. Magician VS Magician. Alice VS the White Queen. Instead, the ending is simply that. An ending. No fight, no real conflict. Just a bland happy ending (if you consider a silver-platter ending happy).
I felt cheated. All that build up only to fade into nothing.
Red Queen boasted of an adventure and based on the previous book, I expected lots of action to follow. Off the top of my head I can think of a couple scenes that really fit that, at most. Everything took a scaled-back rating into the land of vague descriptions I often see in young adult novels when the author is attempting to cloak an otherwise… vivid situation. The entire story, for that matter, held this haze over it that struck as unfitting for the world Henry is attempting to portray in a darker light.
Ultimately, I felt very little toward this book, both during and after finishing it. Which was a shame because I had issues with Alice that I hoped would be fixed in this sequel but instead it was as if the book was an entirely other entity to be judged on separate elements. As a series, these books aren’t cohesive in that sense though the story continues and provides the much-loved happy ending. Or as much as one can get from an Alice locked in an asylum for ten years before unleashing fury onto the world with her Hatcher. Blood tells tales and this one is written in it fully.