Cheshire’s fingers, cold and slightly damp, stroked down the scar on her cheek. She swallowed the shudder of revulsion at his touch.
“Yes,” Cheshire said. “He marked you so that he would know you again, and know that you belong to him.”
“I belong to no one,” Alice said.
This is my new fight song. I belong to no one. You better believe it. You do not own me. I may be small, and I may be weak, and I may be frightened, but I belong to no one. Without even knowing the complete context in which that is spoken in this book, doesn’t it make you want to stand up and shout?
Alice is my first Christina Henry book. I already have the sequel, Red Queen, on my bookshelf. I knew I was in it to win it by the time I finished the 3rd chapter of Alice, and so I put away the digital version I had of it, ordered both books, and waited until they arrived to finish. I really thought it might kill me, but it was well worth the wait. Thankfully, Alice doesn’t end in a cliffhanger. The ending is definitely OPEN for future tales, but it’s not one of those OMG WTF cliffhanger endings that seem to be par for the course for a lot of the books I’ve been reading lately. Phew.
Obviously, this is an Alice in Wonderland retelling. However, unlike most retellings of various stories I’ve read, I think you could enjoy this one even without knowing the original! Shocking! Raises the bar, I think. So many retellings depend on our love of the originals to carry over – and often, at least in my case, it does – and make us more accepting or forgiving to the new work.
The story is fairly graphic and sometimes disturbing in its depictions of violence, killing, rape, and abuse. It’s creepy right out of the gate. The world of this Alice is definitely not ours, but it has enough resemblance to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Alice and her friend Hatcher have been locked away in an insane asylum for years, abused and neglected, barely kept alive – and not entirely sane or insane. Are they innocent? Maybe not entirely. Justified? You have to decide for yourself. I loved the complexity of their struggles, not only to find the Jabberwocky but to figure themselves out. I love Alice, her sheer will in the middle of circumstances that would bring most of us to our knees. I love that she and Hatch are there for each other even when they annoy the daylights out of each other, that when one is weak the other is strong. The best kind of partners. Neither perfect, both so very human and tortured by their own demons.
He [Hatcher] would not stand and argue with Alice when they did not agree, even if she wished to. And she did wish to.
Hatcher always had changeable moods…out here the world was bright and sharp and full of hungry mouths waiting to eat her up. She couldn’t afford Hatcher’s instability, and she wouldn’t leave him either. They were bound together by love and need and other feelings she didn’t entirely understand.
Despite pretty much nothing going her way – except that she isn’t killed or raped, Alice just keeps going. She and Hatcher both struggle against the effects of what to me is PTSD, as well as the drugs fed them by the hospital. The story may be fantasy but the flashbacks and the horror is not. Henry did an excellent job of portraying the day-to-day struggles of some mental health patients. People who just want to live their normal lives, but have even the most mundane of tasks interrupted by the terrors that live in their brains. I hope people who read this see that, and not just the dark fantasy land.
“I w-want to go h-home,” she said. Her tongue tasted like salt and roses.
“Where’s home, my Alice?” Hatcher said. “Where’s home? We don’t have a home, you and I.”
“Then I want to go back to the hospital,” she said. “We were safe there. Nothing could hurt us…”
“Except the doctors,” Hatcher said…”Theres nowhere for us to go back to. We can go forward. We can find our way out.”
Forward and out.
I gave it 4/5 stars because I really wanted MORE. I felt like more explanation, more backstory, and more tying up of loose ends was needed to really bring the story to closure, especially since the ending wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger. That’s really a small thing, I guess, for as much as I enjoyed the book!