Format: E-Galley, 304 pages
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Genre: Horror, Retellings
The author of Alice takes readers back down the rabbit hole to a dark, twisted, and fascinating world based on the works of Lewis Carroll... The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. A place where Alice could finally rest, no longer the plaything of the Rabbit, the pawn of Cheshire, or the prey of the Jabberwocky. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash—and hope is nowhere to be found. Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King. The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen...
Red Queen, by author Christina Henry, is the second installment in The Chronicle's of Alice series. The story picks up shortly after Alice and Hatcher left the City behind. The pair has set out to search for Hatcher's long lost daughter Jenny who was supposedly taken to the East. Red Queen is not Alice in any way shape or form. There is less violence, more of Alice looking into who she has become since escaping the Hospital where her parents left her to rot. She's a magician who has never been taught her trade because being a magician is a death sentence. She has to figure out what she is capable of while also dealing with the fact that sometimes good deeds end up badly.
Alice has to go solo for a large chunk of the story after the White Queen lures Hatcher away. She ends up standing in for a village's children, facing a Black King who resides in the forest while luring women to their deaths, befriending a kindly Giant named Pen, and ends up learning more about her self, and her inner strengths, than we ever saw in Alice. While I loved the first book, I believe we get a better idea of Alice and who she has become since meeting Hatcher and Cheshire. One could ask themselves about the title of the book and whether or not it really pertains to this story. In fact, Henry and Publisher could have named the book White Queen and it would have made perfect sense to me.
While there is a particular kick, as it were that involves the Red Queen, and her powers to thwart the evil White Queen, this story is about Alice's growth as an adult, as a magician, and one who is not scared to get her hands dirty or bloody in order to save children, and defeat villains. She's accepted that Hatcher and she are two of a kind. I loved that while Cheshire is a bit part in this book, he still hovers over the series. He is always in Alice's mind whenever she has to make a choice. He is in the beginning of the book telling Alice's story. And, he is at the end of the story when Alice must figure out which way her path leads to next.
I am hesitant to talk about whether or not this is the final installment. I have seen others claim this is only a Duology and that is fine. The ending leaves a path to another journey, but it also leads to a happy ending sort of fairy tale that one has to expect from fairy tale retellings. Will Alice and Hatcher have one more adventure before they settle down for good? One can only hope.