by Christina Henry
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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.
Bring it, Alice! I’m not scared. Oh, how I should have.
TRIGGER WARNING : Graphic rape (a lot) and violence
►By no means is Alice a flawless book, and I’m not gonna lie, the first chapters, if they hooked me, confused me as hell in the same time. Who are these people? What do they want? What are their relationships like? Where the fuck are they? What’s this world, where human traffic, rape and violence are common practices, where the awful way women are treated makes me want to scream?
To be honest, I always thought that Alice in Wonderland was weird as fuck and developed in an undercurrent of crazy violence, and here? Well. Christina Henry sure pictured the characters we know in the most terrifying light. I love this kind of retellings with passion, and despite the horror, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized at all the magical and strange creatures we meet.
► Moreover, as long as it took for me to simply understand what was going on, it didn’t influence my interest, not at any moment. From the first page I was intrigued, horrified, drowned into this sick journey of theirs. It started with my breath thinning, then gasping and struggling for air.
I was there with Alice, who coudn’t annoy me even if she kept following Hatcher around, because after what she lived through, it made sense and she was lucid about her need and their somewhat unhealthy relationship. Perhaps this world forces her to be taken care of by a man, but nobody owns her, and she makes sure that everyone knows it. Fierce, fierce Alice – she’s in no need of saving, after all. Trust me on this. And then, there’s Hatcher. Hatcher whose madness took violent turns sometimes and whose mind we could never really trust, but Hatcher who was ready to do anything to protect her. Starting Alice, I didn’t expect his character, and he surprised me in the best way possible.
This said, I won’t say that their relationship didn’t surprise or make me uncomfortable at times, because it did. What is it that they have? Love? Friendship? Whatever it is, its evolution is beautiful.
► Really, though? Their quest for revenge and blood captivated me and I rooted for them to kill these fuckers something fierce. Whoops.
This said, I didn’t enjoy some parts of it (I’m not lying when I say that this book is really rape-y), and wanted for some men to go over the stereotyping lust (because really), that’s why I can’t bring myself to give it the full 5. If I never got the impression that rape was used as a plot device – but rather as a way to show how monstruous and excruciating this world is, and NEVER condoned in any way – I don’t like the fact that (almost) all men are bad.