Book: Alice by Christina Henry
Published: Titan Books
I love anything to do with Alice in Wonderland, it seems to me to be a neverending source of great stories, because anything is possible! This interpretation has to be the darkest I have ever read. It is ghoulish, it is horrific, I was disgusted at various points, and I couldn’t stop reading.
In a hospital is a woman, with lank blond hair, a scar on her face, and memories of a Rabbit and blood. Her only friend is the Hatcher, her asylum companion who she has only ever spoken to through the mousehole in the cinderblock walls. Then one night, a fire breaks out, and Hatcher and Alice flee into the Old City. But they are not the only ones released that night. The Jabberwock, a bloodsucking creature linked to Hatcher, is also released. Alice and Hatcher have to set out across the territories of the deranged Old City to find a way to destroy the Jabberwock, and possibly to regain the memories of their past. To find out why Alice dreams of blood and knives stuck in eyes, and of the long white ears of the Rabbit.
A sinister twist on the classic tale, Alice is not in Wonderland. Instead, the city is split into the pretty, shiny New City, and the Old City, where the poor and the mad and the downtrodden are ruled by mob bosses. Where women fear for their lives, and are kidnapped in the streets to be sold for the pleasure of men. The main criminal bosses encountered are Cheshire, the Caterpillar, the Walrus and the Rabbit – reimagined from the original tale. Hatcher, a crazy axe murderer, is Alice’s companion and protector.
But there are no dancing flowers, no fun pack of soldier playing cards painting roses red. This is a disturbed and dark retelling. The main themes are rape, power, corruption, insanity, abuse and cannibalism. It is not for the faint hearted, and should really come with a trigger warning. This might be the most disturbing book I have ever read. The descriptions are vivid and make you feel faintly sick, but at the same time, the tale is woven around you so well that it is nearly impossible to put down. I had finished the book in a matter of hours.
This book is absolutely not for the faint hearted, and I wouldn’t recommend it to you if you dislike horrific and depraved tales of the baser side of human nature. Put this down and go and find Lewis Carrol if that is the case. That being said, if you think you can stomach it, this book is disturbing, but brilliantly written. I absolutely recommend – if you dare. Beware the claws that caught Alice.