A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney

I really enjoyed this read! It’s the Alice in Wonderland + Buffy crossover I never knew I needed. I have always loved the dark playfulness of Alice in Wonderland, so to read urban twist to the classic family centered around a black teenage heroine in modern times? Count. Me. In!

The Story: The book begins with Alice running away from the shock and pain of just losing her father. She runs down a dark alley (never a good idea) and almost gets eaten by a talking Nightmare when Addison Hatta shows up and saves her. The weird thing her is, most humans can’t see the Nightmares or Hatta, yet Alice saw it all. This is Alice’s brutal introduction to Wonderland.

Alice soon learns that Wonderland lies in an a portal world where Nightmares, created by the fears of humans, seek to pass into the human world and wreak havoc. Plot twist: only humans can kill them and only few humans can see them. This is how Alice becomes a Dreamwalker.

A few years later, we find Alice is now a Nightmare-killing machine. She then runs into her biggest foe: The Black Knight. Wonderland is seemingly at the brink of another war and they don’t even know it. The Black Knight has re-emerged and he is the key to saving both Hatta and the White Queen.


The Symbolism: While it is very easy to say that this is simply a reimagination of a classic, it is so much more. There is so much covered in this book within the issues of race, gender, sexual identity, mental and physical ability, and socioeconomic class. AND THIS IS JUST BOOK ONE!

What I Loved: This story shows the realities that so many black readers will be able to share. The horrors and fears behind a black girl being gunned down the street. A single mother trying to keep it together after losing her husband and also trying to keep her own daughter alive. Alice, the seemingly normal kid who loves cosplaying and hanging out with her two friends, also confronted daily with her fears of survival not just as a Dreamwalker, but as a black kid in Atlanta trying to live a “normal” life.

What I Didn’t Like: At times, I found myself craving more from this book. More development of the characters, more development of the scene. I still don’t quite understand the make-up of Wonderland after reading this book. But, this is the author’s debut novel, so I don’t expect Tolkien-like quality.

I could go on and on and on, but I don’t want to spoil it because this is a MUST READ! I look forward to book two of this series. A Dream so Dark is set to be released on September 24 and you already know I have it preordered.

Rating: 4/5

2 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.