- Publisher: Ace
- Publication date: 08/04/2015
- ISBN: 9780425266793
- Pages: 304
- Author: Christina Henry
Alice by Christina Henry is her homage to the Alice In Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass books. Those Lewis Carroll books are two of my all time favorite books so I was looking forward to her alternative take on the stories. I really liked Henry’s The Girl In Red retelling of the Red-Riding Hood story in a post-apocalyptic setting. I loved her Lost Boy take on the Peter Pan stories that reflected on what it would be like for real boys to be taken to a world where they have to fight real pirates and real monsters, and what sort of leader Pan would really be. As I said, I enjoyed her alternative take on these two worlds and was looking forward to a bent version of Wonderland.
The story begins with Alice as a patient in a mental institution many years after she escaped from a killer known as “the rabbit”. When there is a fire at the hospital, she is able to escape with the help of another patient, Hatcher. They escape across the river to “Old Town” which I suppose is supposed to be analogous to Wonderland, but other than character names, there is not really much resonance to the original Alice stories. The Jabberwock was apparently also trapped at the mental hospital and has been released. Hatcher and Alice need to hunt it down before it can cause incredible destruction and death.
Alice is a fun little horror fantasy, but other than the names of several characters matching those of Lewis Carroll, it is a completely different story. I loved the way Henry referenced the other classic tales in the other books I mention above, but this one just did not work for me in that way. It is not a bad story, but there is really no enhancement by using the character names from the original Alice tales. It is a little fun to see, Oh, she mentions that character now, but the characters themselves have little to do with the original book characters beyond their names.
This could have been an interesting take on mental illness versus a true magical realm. What is reality and what is just in Alice’s mind? But Henry does not go there. Once out of the hospital, it becomes a standard dark horror fantasy. There is no question about the reality of their situation. The only reference to the psychological impacts are a lack of memory for both the main characters. Otherwise, it is just a dark dark world where magic is around and the two heroes need to work through the city to find and hopefully, subdue the evil Jabberwock. Most of the story works well enough. The struggles they face and how they overcome them are entertaining, but I was especially disappointed in the ending. Henry spent the story building tension and malice and foreboding, then at the end just took a ‘magic – poof’ shortcut to resolution.
I like Henry’s writing and I may give the other books in the ‘Chronicles of Alice’ series a try at some point, but this one did little to entice me in that direction. If I do read more of Christina Henry’s works, I will probably look to other tales first.