A Blade so Black
A Blade so Black

Series: Nightmare-Verse Vol. 1   

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Annotation: 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.
Catalog Number: #168936
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: High Low High Low
Publisher: Macmillan
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 370 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-250-15390-5
ISBN 13: 978-1-250-15390-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018936670
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
In this compelling reimagining of Carroll's famous heroine, we are introduced to a black Alice who courageously battles monsters appropriately called Nightmares in the dream realm of Wonderland. Alice also battles grief in the loss of her father, violence in her Atlanta neighborhood, and a clingy mom. In this action-packed fantasy remix, readers will simultaneously cheer our heroine and hang on for the ride.
Kirkus Reviews
McKinney's debut novel introduces a no-nonsense, cosplaying, dark-skinned Alice with coily hair charged with defending two worlds while still making it home for curfew.The same night 17-year-old Atlanta resident Alice Kingston's father dies, she's attacked by a Nightmare, "a manifestation of humanity's fears," and saved by "punk rock Prince Charming" Addison Hatta, guardian of a gateway in the Looking Glass pub between our world and Wonderland, a dreamscape of Earth. Hatta recruits Alice to fight alongside him, and from that first meeting the story races readers through her metamorphosis from lost, grieving teen to a still-grieving, world-saving, dagger-wielding "black Buffy." McKinney beautifully exposes the immensity of the pressure Alice feels to balance her duties as daughter, friend, and Dreamwalker, emphasizing the precariousness of Alice's position as a black girl alternately worried about the threat of police violence in her community and the mysterious menaces in Wonderland. The nuanced representations of relationships, platonic and not (there is a dreamy, romantic lesbian love story), between the inclusive cast of characters are highlights of the text. Uneven pacing leads to sometimes feeling one step beyond the action and without sufficient worldbuilding. While representations of race on Earth are clearly established, in Wonderland they are conflated and lacking in nuance (Addison is white, and other Wonderland residents are described as appearing Latinx and East Asian).A thrilling, timely novel that ensures readers will be curiouser for a sequel. (Fantasy. 14-18)
Publishers Weekly
Ever since police in Atlanta, Ga., killed an unarmed black girl at a school football game, Alice Kingston-s mother has watched Alice like a hawk. The attention is proving problematic for the 17-year-old black Dreamwalker, who secretly guards the city-s Gateway to Wonderland (the -collective unconscious of the entire world-) and slays any monsters (aka -Nightmares-) that attempt to cross over. Alice is pondering retirement when her mentor, Addison Hatta, contracts a mysterious disease dubbed the Madness. Fellow Dreamwalkers Dimitri and Demarcus Tweedlanov join Alice on a quest to secure help from the White Queen, but when they find the queen similarly afflicted, Alice realizes that she might have to risk more than a grounding in order to save the day. Relentless action, spiraling stakes, and a fierce heroine distinguish debut author McKinney-s fantasy update of Alice in Wonderland. The mechanics of Wonderland, its features, and its creatures sometimes feel hastily sketched, and secondary characters lack depth, but McKinney-s imagination knows few bounds, and Alice-s devotion to the others is contagious. A heartbreaking cliffhanger will leave fans clamoring for a sequel. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up Seventeen-year-old Alice is attacked by a Nightmare the night her father dies. She is saved and mentored by Addison Hatta, a handsome and mysterious Curiouser who decides to train her in becoming a Dreamwalkera destroyer of Nightmares with magic weaponsin Wonderland. Her overprotective mother worries about her in their urban Atlanta community. Her high-maintenance best friend, Court, anticipates a huge birthday celebration at a time when it clashes with Alice's secret and near-deadly Dreamwalker life. Alice finds herself attracted to both Hatta and friend Chess. When Hatta is poisoned with the Madness at the hands of the Black Knight, Alice has to find the Heart and Eye antidotes, which have been hidden and misplaced in Wonderland. She receives help from unexpected characters on a life-defining journey to defeat the Black Knight, Nightmares, and Fiendsand to save herself from losing her head. McKinney has infused this urban contemporary retelling of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer sensibility and "Black Girl Magic." Readers will enjoy the acerbic sarcasm and comedy. The inclusion of various cultures, skin tones, languages, ages, and sexual orientations is expertly woven into the narrative and world-building. Teens will root for Alice as a strong, multidimensional black girl usually unseen in YA fiction. The novel's pace slows at times, but it will keep readers in suspense. VERDICT This is a must-purchase where refreshing urban fantasies and retellings are in demand. Donald Peebles, Brooklyn Public Library
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* McKinney delivers an explosive, kick-ass debut, described by the author herself as, "What if Buffy fell down the rabbit hole instead of Alice?" This Alice is a black teen girl who is first seen fleeing a hospital after learning of her dad's death. She then stumbles upon Wonderland resident Addison Hatter and witnesses him battling a Nightmare, an evil entity from the dream realm of Wonderland that, as a mortal, Alice isn't supposed to be able to see. Her ability to see these dark, pernicious beings marks her as a human who can kill Nightmares instead of simply sending them back to Wonderland. As a result, Addison begins training Alice to battle Nightmare creatures. When Addison is poisoned, Alice must find an antidote by journeying into the heart and bowels of Wonderland place that is as dangerous as it is whimsical, as deadly as it is beautiful. McKinney breathes new life and fierce empowerment into Carroll's classic. Her Wonderland is menacing, lush, and unique and populated by nuanced characters that are fleshed out and refreshingly authentic. This is the Alice in Wonderland retelling the world has always needed.
Word Count: 88,571
Reading Level: 4.9
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.9 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 199145 / grade: Upper Grades
Lexile: HL660L

" A Blade So Black is the fantasy book I've been waiting for my whole life ." --Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times -bestselling author of The Hate U Give L.L. McKinney's A Blade So Black delivers an irresistible urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland ... but it's not the Wonderland you remember. 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. Debut author L.L. McKinney delivers an action-packed twist on an old classic, full of romance and otherworldly intrigue. And don't miss the thrilling sequel, A Dream So Dark An Imprint Book "Mixing elements of Alice in Wonderland and Buffy the Vampire Slayer ... Delectable." -- Entertainment Weekly

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