This review contains spoilers.
“There was comfort in ignorance, in thinking the world a certain way and not knowing any different.”
Series: The Chronicles of Alice
Published: 2016, by Titan Books Ltd.
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Retellings, Adult, Fiction
Contains: Mental Illness, Mental Health, Death, Violence, Blood/Gore, Torture, Rape, Abuse, Sexual Content, Sexual Assault.
‘Alice’ is the darker retelling of Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice, a patient in a mental institution, talks of a white rabbit desperate to catch her, while her neighbour, Hatcher, fears a creature known as the Jabberwocky. After a fire breaks out in the hospital, Hatcher and Alice escape and learn of the horrors outside of the institute’s walls, while those they fear become reality.
I’m not usually a fan of Alice in Wonderland, the entire concept unnerves me. However, I’ve heard so much about this author and as I was heading to Disneyland soon, I thought I’d try it. Needless to say, I’m so glad I did.
Henry introduces Alice’s character in the most engaging way, describing her life within the institution and gradually revealing her fears of the rabbit. This already attracted my attention, feeling as if Henry’s vision of the classic tale was perfect. To me, Alice in Wonderland is already a disturbing tale, so to recreate this and antagonise the iconic characters was a brilliant spin on the story. Alice’s character was an incredible protagonist from the start, applying care and logic to her companions plans. While Hatcher was more spontaneous and vicious in his decisions, Alice considered things more carefully, ensuring she thought through outcomes before attacking. She didn’t want to cause harm without need, and I loved that, especially considering who her companion was.
Personally, Hatcher was my favourite character. His history and the development of his character throughout the novel was so fun to read. Hatcher’s relationship with Alice was wonderful, his unnerving character changing into one with a more protective nature around her and revealing his true personality behind the mania. Although, the eventual romantic progression of Alice’s relationship with Hatcher wasn’t surprising to me, it was welcomed; it fit and I found myself anticipating more romantic interactions between the pair, which I desperately hope is explored more within the second novel.
The story itself is fast paced, meaning it’s an all-round action-packed, fun read. Although, I wasn’t a particularly easy read, the difficult themes within meaning that there were times where I’d have to set it down for a while before continuing, I enjoyed the novel completely. The violence within wasn’t unprovoked, it made sense considering the concept of the novel, and I became deeply engrossed in the disturbing world explored.
Christina Henry’s writing accompanied this, her language investing you into the story and managing to slip in the horror easy while still maintaining the readers attention. You find yourself becoming accustomed to the violence.
Overall, I loved this story. ‘Alice’ may be one of the most disturbing retellings I’ve read, but it’s by far my favourite and I can’t wait to read the second book.