Title: Red Queen
Author: Christina Henry
Series: The Chronicles of Alice, #2
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: July 12th 2016
The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. 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 or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King. The pieces are set and the game has begun, and each move brings Alice closer to her destiny.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
After facing off against the Jabberwocky and the Rabbit in the first book Alice and Hatcher have fled Old City and are heading East to try and find Jenny, Hatcher’s daughter. Once they leave Old City, crawling through underground tunnels for days on end, Alice expects to find fields of green and somewhere peaceful where her and Hatcher can build a life together. Instead outside of Old City they find a burnt wreckage, the land has been scorched and Alice’s dream for peace and safety seems to be destroyed.
But as Alice and Hatcher head East they discover that leaving Old City and the Magicians there they have not escaped the danger. After days of wandering they come across an abandoned village; a place where there are clean clothes, fresh bread, and supplies all free for the taking but no inhabitants. However when Alice and Hatcher fall asleep she dreams of people standing over them; talking, threatening, and referencing a menacing White Queen.
It seems that on the way East to find Jenny Alice and Hatcher have wandered into the domain of the White Queen; a place where giants guard an abandoned town, where goblins roam the forest, where the Black King burns everything he sees, and where the White Queen steals children from the local village. Then, when Hatcher feels the White Queen’s power, he flees and is trapped under her spell leaving Alice on her own to navigate the White Queen sinister traps and face the deadly monarch herself.
While the first book in the series, Alice, was very much a horror story Red Queen seemed a little lighter. It seemed to turn more towards fantasy with the romance between Alice and Hatcher playing a larger part. What I liked the most about Alice was the setting and the horror aspect, it didn’t shy away from the dark side of the Old City and it’s what set this series apart from the other Alice in Wonderland retellings. It felt like that uniqueness was missing in this second book.
Alice, after facing her worst fears in the Jabberwocky and the Rabbit, craves peace. All she wants is a small cottage in the country where her and Hatcher can live their lives in peace. But it seems fate has other plans. After using her powers as a Magician to defeat the Jabberwocky Alice is trying to learn more about them, and when she loses Hatcher she knows she needs to master her abilities to face the White Queen. However there is still so much she needs to learn and no one sane who can teach her.
In the first book Alice relied on Hatcher for pretty much everything. She followed him through Old City and up until the very end seemed content to let him take the lead in all aspects of their hunt for the Jabberwocky. However in Red Queen, with Hatcher taken by the White Queen, Alice is forced to rely more on herself. It was interesting seeing her character grow; she forced to use her own instincts to tell her who to trust and what her next move should be, and she is forced to trust people she isn’t sure whether she can trust to get her closer to the White Queen and to Hatcher.
Hatcher is very much the same character in this book as in the first. He is still determined to keep Alice safe; and even after the White Queen had taken over his mind part of him still knows Alice and still seeks to keep her safe. Even when he is far away he is never far from Alice’s thoughts; Hatcher is what drives her forwards, as well as the injustice done to the people under the White Queen’s rule. She wants Hatcher back and is willing to go to the heart of the White Queen’s kingdom and fight magic with magic to get him back.
Even though they are no longer in Old City, or anywhere near it, there are still influences that are shadowing Alice’s mind; be it Cheshire who guides her forwards in her quest and teaches her little facts about magic, or the Jabberwocky still trapped in a jar in Alice’s pocket, she can’t take him out until she has forgotten him and he is dead but it’s hard for Alice to put his presence to the back of her mind. The little niggling doubts she has in the back of her mind, telling her that she isn’t good enough, that she isn’t powerful enough, that she’ll never be able to save Hatcher, feel a lot like the presence of the Jabberwocky.
What I liked a lot about Alice was the setting. Old City was dark and horrific but it was easy to see the influences Lewis Carroll’s original tale had on it, mostly the presence of the other Magicians; Cheshire, the Caterpillar, and the Rabbit. Red Queen was likely supposed to be carrying on that story, showing us Christina Henry’s take on the Red and White Queen’s. However aspects of this story felt more like the Snow Queen rather than Alice in Wonderland; the White Queen in her castle, isolated at the end of the world, stealing children from the local village. I really liked this aspect of the story don’t get me wrong, but I expected more Alice in Wonderland influences and didn’t really see any of them.
All in all I thought Red Queen was a brilliant conclusion to the Chronicles of Alice series, granted I did have higher hopes for this story but I enjoyed reading more of Alice and Hatcher’s adventures. The ending was left open; it allows me to imagine my own conclusion for Alice and Hatcher but could potentially allow the author to go back to the world on day, which I sincerely hope she does.
What did you think of Red Queen? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.