Updated: Feb 4
Last week's shop pick was A BLADE SO BLACK by LL McKinney. *screams* IT IS SO FUN! Essentially, it's Alice in Wonderland meets Buffy, so if you're looking for a good time...well, keep reading!
If you were ever a nerdy little black girl, this one's for you. A BLADE SO BLACK is a love letter to the girls who've been othered by both their skin and their interests -- who've been told to avoid expressing certain parts of themselves in order for the world to accept them. This book had my inner child absolutely delighted by the literal #blackgirlmagic infused into every page.
A BLADE SO BLACK is the badass Alice in Wonderland adaptation that I needed to exist in the world -- as an Alice in Wonderland fan, I'll get my hands on any adaptation I can find. Alice, the protagonist of this book is not the one you might be familiar with, but rather the spiritual successor of her predecessor. This Alice is tough, but wonderfully human. She talks like a typical teenage girl, dresses like a typical teenage girl, and has the heart of one. Alice might be fighting monsters, but McKinney does well to keep present the unpleasant part of being a superhero -- the real life duties and expectations you still have to keep up with. Alice is responsible to her mother because of their shared grief and she's also struggling with being as 'there' for her friends as they need her to be. Pulled between her duties killing Nightmares in Wonderland and her family, Alice has to handle it all. Despite this, the magic of Wonderland doesn't fade from the story -- a fangirl of all things nerdy content, Alice is still struck by the miraculous nature of what's happening to her.
The overall story of A BLADE SO BLACK deviates from the original Alice telling as well. In this version, Alice is a young adult in modern Atlanta who's been tasked by a handler from Wonderland, the world of dreams, to defend humanity from the physical manifestation of Nightmares, which occasionally make their way into the human world. McKinney's description of Wonderland is brilliantly vivid, it's definitely recognizable from the original, but with more details and information that make the world feel full and as real as a world made from dreams could be. The characters born from Wonderland are just as magical as the world itself is, without them feeling as if it'd be impossible for them to exist in our real world.
A BLADE SO BLACK is a fast, entertaining read that sits in the sweet spot between YA and Adult fiction. If you're a fan of the OG Alice in Wonderland and badass heroines determined to save the world, this is the right book for you.
P.S. Calling all Sailor Moon fans! This book was written by one and has a couple cute mentions that I won't spoil, but you'll definitely get a kick out of.