When I first heard about A Blade So Black I knew I had to read it. This Alice and Wonderland meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was fabulous. Not only is it fiercely grounded in reality, but it establishes a wonderful balance between fantasy and the real problems Alice encounters: racism. Thank you so much to Aimee, Always who organized this amazing tour!
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 have so many great thoughts about this book. McKinney is able to balance very real challenges of racism with this contemporary Alice in Wonderland re-imagination. I adored each of the different parts for different reasons. I appreciated the honesty and the way that her mother’s fear of Alice not coming home at night is grounded in the incident of another black girl dying. At the same time, her time in Wonderland is also balanced by her PTSD symptoms of her father’s death and her own questioning self-confidence.
This book has so many different aspects merged into one. And it works seamlessly. Whether we’re reading an off hand comment about the hours Alice spends on her hair or the visceral fear of Alice’s mother. At the same time, Alice is wondering about the fairness of war, and what it’s like to learn from your mistakes. All while dealing with the grief of her father’s death.
There weren’t even so many comments that I made because most of McKinney’s writing had this plain raw honesty that forced me to highlight. They were quotes I knew I’d have to discuss and think about. That I wanted to share.
I hope this book becomes the start of a really wonderful series, because while the ending felt resolved, I need more!!
About the Author
Leatrice “Elle” McKinney, writing as L.L. McKinney, is a poet and active member of the kidlit community. She’s an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing, and the creator of the hashtag #WhatWoCWritersHear. She’s spent time in the slush by serving as a reader for agents and participating as a judge in various online writing contests.
Elle’s also a gamer, Blerd, and adamant Hei Hei stan, living in Kansas, surrounded by more nieces and nephews than she knows what to do with. Aside from rockin’ the Favorite Aunt thing, she spends her free time plagued by her cat–Sir Chester Fluffmire Boopsnoot Purrington Wigglebottom Flooferson III, esquire, Baron o’Butterscotch or #SirChester for short–or defending the realm from the enemies of Azeroth. FOR THE HORDE!
Author website: https://www.llmckinney.com/
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