Review: A Blade So Black

Posted September 29, 2018

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Blade So Black A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Published by Titan on 25th September 2018
Genres: YA Fantasy, Retellings
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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.

I’m pretty unsure as to how I feel about A Blade So Black. I think I wanted to enjoy it much more than I actually did.

A Wee Summary

Alice is a teenage girl living in Atlanta. Following the death of her father, Alice finds herself acquainted with Addison Hatta, a GateKeeper to Wonderland. Hatta is training Alice to become a Dreamwalker, to destroy Nightmares which feed upon fear and hate.

Being a teenager, we see Alice juggling her school and family life with her new role as Dreamwalker. Alice is black, and with the current climate in Atlanta, her mother fears for Alice’s safety whenever she leaves the home. Her fear is rooted in the treatment of people of colour in Atlanta by the police force. Little does she know that beyond that, her daughter risks her life to protect the world from the Nightmares of Wonderland.

When Hatta is poisoned, the only chance of a cure is for Alice to venture deeper into Wonderland and plead with those whom Hatta wronged in the past.

My Thoughts

As I said, I really wanted to enjoy this book. I liked the concept of the novel and it was refreshing to find a protagonist in a fantasy who is a POC (surely it’s a devastating reflection of the world when this stands out as different?). I liked that in straddling between our world and Wonderland, we would see Alice’s life in Atlanta, as well as her role as a DreamWalker. Sadly however, I wasn’t really a fan of the execution of this novel.

Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style. At times I felt somewhat overwhelmed by words – which I realise sounds rather odd but I felt as though I was being told everything rather than shown it or involved in it. I just couldn’t connect with the writing style, and felt the storytelling lacked flow.

I also didn’t particularly feel connected to the characters so I didn’t really feel their stories. I didn’t feel invested, though I wanted to be.

To be honest I was left feeling pretty disappointed by this book. It’s a story that has potential but, for a novel of nearly 400 pages, I felt as though not a lot really happened. This coupled with my issues with the writing and my lack of connection to the characters just left me feeling as though I wanted more from A Blade So Black.