{ARC} Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney || Word of the day: development

A Blade so Black

A Blade so Black #1

L.L. McKinney

a blade so black ll mckinney

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.

Publisher: Imprint

Published: September 25th 2018




Trigger Warning





Death, Kidnapping, Blood, Depictions of Grief

Melissa on Twitter sent me this and I am… the most grateful right now.

We follow Alice as she juggles fighting Nightmares, school and helping her mother after the death of her father. But when her partner Hatta get the Madness, it’s a mad dash to find pieces scattered around Wonderland to heal him.

The beginning brings you straight into the action, which was a bit disorienting. There’s not a lot of backstory, things are thrown at you like an offhand comment. Oh, you didn’t know? Wellnow you do ¯\_()_/¯ .

There is genuinely two chapters of an attempt on backstory, but even then it isn’t really fleshed out.

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We don’t see Alice training or getting better. It’s a show not tell kind of story, so when people tell her hey you’re special, I’m just left to take their word on it. But this type of storytelling also led me into not trusting anyone… which then in turn led to me not rooting for anyone. None of the relationships or any side characters actions, the only one I could truly feel for was Alice’s mom.

And I really appreciated that her mom was genuinely worried about her being out in a time like this. There was a shooting that shook up the entire neighborhood and it’s something Alice thinks about while monster hunting. It’s a conversation that’s brought up multiple times and I’m glad that it’s not used as some half assed plot point. I felt for the mom when Alice didn’t answer her phone or when she came home looking like she was dragged by a car for miles, I just didn’t understand how Alice got away with it over and over again… I know I would’ve been locked in the basement for a month.

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a blade so black fanart

But I liked Alice. I related to her struggle of not liking conventionally black things. She listened to rock and roll while cosplaying and watching anime— there are so many Sailor Moon and Buffy references ❤ . I could give you the typical she’s a badass girl who takes names, but she also has a life outside of that with friends and family who need her.

The romance was another thing that wasn’t fleshed out very well. The development between the characters was supposed to have happened over time… and the reader is just left out of it. Now I’m just reading about Alice blushing and said love interest smiling and tying her stomach in knots. There’s also the fact that not only was I not expecting a romance, there was a weird attempt at a love triangle? I’m not opposed to it, but again, development would’ve been nice, even though it goes literally nowhere.

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I just felt a bit underwhelmed with this one. I was struggling to catch up and ultimately got left behind in confusion.

I understand this is a series— and I wouldn’t be opposed to it, I’m genuinely interested in what’s going to happen next, but again, underdevelopment. I’m hoping book two expands on the world, characters, etc. a bit more.

5 thoughts on “{ARC} Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney || Word of the day: development”

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