Dark reimaginings of children’s books- fun times!

This is my review of Alice by Christina Henry. It is a dark reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland universe, in which Alice and the Hatter (here, the Hatcher) are locked up for their visions. I really enjoy this kind of fiction, (okay, yes, fanfiction) and love Alice, so decided to give this one a shot.

The reason I enjoy new takes on old stories- movies, or fanfiction, or TV series- is that I don’t usually visualize scenes while reading books. So seeing new material is literally like adding a whole new dimension to an old experience. What’s not to like?

I’m not sure whether to categorize this as fanfiction – it is published as literature, but unashamedly takes characters and themes from the original Alice in Wonderland. It is unique enough to pass for a new story if the names were changed (I’m looking at you, Fifty Shades), but keeping them the same triggers an ‘aha’ in your mind and makes you appreciate Henry’s cleverness a bit more.

Alice and the Hatcher are locked up in a prison for the mentally unstable. Alice is here because a sexual assault triggered her to violence, but the Hatcher’s shady past is not fully revealed at first. They’ve been cooped up in neighbouring cells for years now, and have begun a tentative romance (that reeks of Stockholm Syndrome). They break out, but must deal with new dangers. It’s been a while since they’ve been out in the world, and it turns out that Alice’s attack brought down a very dangerous gang leader, and he is out for revenge. Meanwhile, the Hatcher’s got his own plans for revenge…

Given that this book was basically written for me, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected. The story has too many dark themes than is necessary- rape, violence, sex trade, PTSD. Having just one of these themes explored completely would have been daring enough, and made enough content for a whole book. As it was, it was a fast paced stream of horrifying situations.

In Henry’s hurry to utilize all the characters from the source material, she has neglected to flesh out the ones she does have- this is very much an action driven story.

Despite a few hiccups, I’d give this one a solid 3.5/5 and will be reading the sequels, in the hope that the writing improves with experience.

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