Red Queen by Christina Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Alice and Hatcher have escaped through a tunnel to the lands outside of the Old City, only to find the place has been destroyed. Determined to continue on their mission, they set off across the wastelands to find Hatcher's missing daughter. On their travels they hear stories about the powerful White Queen and they see hints of the goblin she keeps to do her bidding and they see the true wrath of the creature called the Black King. Each powerful figure wants something from Alice and Hatcher but it is up to the pair of them to work together and save themselves before they are separated for good.
First things first, there is a rhythm to Christina Henry's works, a pace that is set from the get go. It's what makes these books such a quick read, especially in you are interested in the story. When I read Alice last year, it took a few pages for me to catch on to the music of the writing but once I had it in my head, I zipped through the book fast. However, there was an element to the story that was a bit of a let down so I didn't love the book, I only really liked it.
This book suffered from the same kind of let down.
There were certain plot points to hit, anyone who has read the first book and the summary to this one will know that there are certain key points to come. But this book really didn't expand on any of those points and it didn't develop the world either. After reading the first book, I was hoping for a little more information about the setting, about why magicians have been eradicated, about why the people live the way that they do, but all of that was abandoned for the sake of a quest story that got extremely side-tracked. If anything, this book had a lot more of the traditional fairy tale feel to it instead of the nitty-gritty re-imagined story of Alice in Wonderland that was a big driving point of the first book.
The quest was a large part of this book, the new characters and their struggles were interesting, but it put a new agenda on the board that felt a little like filler to the story. I was willing to go along with it, to see how Alice and Hatcher ended up, but then there was a TA-DA reveal just before the ending that left me thinking, "Really? That's how that plot thread is getting wrapped up?" For me, it was too much of "I want this to be a jaw-dropping reveal" but it felt like a convenient throw away. It didn't have enough impact, there wasn't enough feeling to make it work and there were too many plot holes to lead the reader to that reveal.
In the end, I hope there's a third book because I still have too many questions about this world. Also, where was the violence? Alice had so much struggle and pain, it made the story so different from other books using the same material as an influence, but it was definitely missed in this book. I want to read more of what was seen in Alice as opposed to what was seen in Red Queen.
Rating: 6.5 Stars. I wanted so much more from this book but it doesn't live up to the lasting impression that Alice had on me when I read that book last year.
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