Review: Red Queen by Christina Henry

Red Queen

The Chronicles of Alice #2

Christina Henry

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…

Publisher: Ace

Published: July 12th 2016

Mentions of Sexual Assault, Cannibalism, Forced Prostitution, Blood Depiction, Child Abuse, Murder, Death, Torture, Mutilation

“The world gobbles us and chews us and swallows us,” Hatcher said, in that uncanny way he had of reading her thoughts. “I think happy endings must be accidents.”

“But we hope for them all the same,” Alice said. She looked sadly at the remains of those hopeful faces. Above all, we hope not to die in terror.”

This duology is something I just… adore as a whole? Now, if I’m being honest, I do have an affinity towards book one, however, that is in no way indicative of my enjoyment of this book. Red Queen was great.

Alice and Hatcher have survived the horrors of the City and are on their way to continue their journey of finding Hatcher’s lost daughter. This book does feel a bit longer? Or slower paced? A bit of a trudge to get through?? Which, again, makes sense since they are trekking along looking for a person, a home, safety. However, books with a ton of wandering tend to get a bit boring. It’s inevitable.

There is a definite blanket of despair and loss of hope– this is undoubtedly not the end of their journey, their happy ending is far from sight… but do they get a happy ending? After everything they’ve been through? Everything they’ve done?

And I mention happy ending so frequently here because Red Queen is very much so a fairytale. Yes, there are nightmarish things happening to our characters and this is not the easiest read, but overall it’s a lot lighter than its predecessor. They’re on a journey, in which Red Riding Hood hides from wolves, giants lust for human flesh, there’s a goose who may lay golden eggs and there’s a damsel who will be saved in the end… in an imaginative twist.

“There were monsters in the night but there were monsters in the day too, and monsters inside people who smiled and showed you all their teeth like they were nice.”

I have a deep appreciation of this story. I love that this is about Alice finding her agency, because even thought she was on the path to getting there in book one– she still was very dependent on Hatcher and her inconsistent magic.

Which she acknowledges here! She’s very self aware. Yet here she is alone and clueless and a bit powerless and has to save the day. And that’s a journey I loved to see, because absolution and learning self worth and self love is not a quick expedition, it’s not instantaneous– it’s a process.

And since we’re on the topic of love… our main couple aren’t together for the majority of the book. Of course that made me sad, but their love was ever-so-present throughout the pages. The lengths they went for the other, even when Hatcher was MIA for a while, no spoilers but…..

“No man in the New City could love her as Hatcher did—of that Alice was certain. It was deep and all-consuming but somehow never suffocating. It was unselfish. It did not ask for anything and yet he made no secret of his need. There was no one in the world like Hatcher, and if she hadn’t been mad, there would be no Hatcher for her.”

I hate to play the comparison game, but book one did have a magic to it that kept me glued to the pages, feverishly turning, rushing to the end while concurrently hoping it wouldn’t end. This one? I hate to sound repetitive, but I’m appreciative of the story it told. I’m happy with how it ended, it made me feel things, it was a rollercoaster… a solid conclusion.

.. and I know there’s a novella continuing the series… so we know what I’m doing soon.

3 thoughts on “Review: Red Queen by Christina Henry”

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