A Blade So Black is the debut novel from L.L. Mckinney. I was super excited to hear about a black retelling of Alice in Wonderland and could not wait to dive in.
A Blade So Black is Lewis Carroll and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s black love child. Complete with a mad Hatta, tweedles, and crazy color themed queens, Wonderland is the stuff dreams are made of. Unfortunately, where there are dreams there are often nightmares as well. Alice is your average teenage girl until tragedy, loss, and a run-in with a Nightmare upend her life.
Alice is enlisted as a dream walker and charged with keeping Nightmares out of the human world. Alice’s life is a constant struggle to keep her two worlds separate. Her overprotective mother, her friends, loss, and the fear that comes with being black in America pull her in one direction. While her desire to please her mentor and save the world from dangers it’s not even aware of pulls her in another.
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Not Your Average Jane
A Blade So Black is not your average retelling. There are a few things that point to Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland but L.L. Mckinney builds a whole new world. Alice is the main character black women have been looking for. She has to worry about saving the world and her edges! L.L. Mckinney managed to write a story that felt true to the black experience without getting bogged down in black stereotypes. Let’s just say Alice is no damsel in distress and there is no ‘white savior’ coming to the rescue.
I can’t say I loved the story’s pacing but I did enjoy the imagery. Like Carroll’s work, A Blade So Black is going to be part of a series. The sequel A Dream So Dark is set to release September 24, 2019. (You can click here to preorder.)
Congratulations are in order as Lionsgate Television has optioned the rights for A Blade So Black. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing L.L. Mckinney’s Wonderland on the small screen soon enough.
Order your copy of A Blade So Black today and come back and let me know what you thought.
2 Thoughts on “A Blade So Black”
This one also totally skips the training montage of when the main character is slowly learning their powers and getting used to fighting monsters. I love fantasy, and sometimes it really is helpful to see them learning their magic or powers. But I’ve read a lot of fantasy now, and to be honest, this book didn’t need it. So, if you don’t mind or actually want to skip the training montage (like me!) then this a good book for you. As for the black main character rep that I was looking forward to, it was okay. Alice does have some elements to her character which show her as an African-American such as dealing with her hair and a few other things. And yes, there is some discussion of unfair police brutality and racist crime as evil tends to breed monsters. But I have to be honest – it doesn’t go into too much discussion of this and at times it seems a bit like the black rep was made to be a selling point for the book and hastily included? It needed more development for it to truly feel diverse. But otherwise, it was a good inclusion! I can’t find anything particularly wrong with the rep, only that I wanted a bit more from it.
I can definitely agree with wanting a little bit more depth in terms of the black representation. You should check out my review of Queenie. I would love to hear what you think about that one.