‘A Dream So Dark’ by L.L. McKinney/A Review

A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney
Publisher: Imprint Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Release Date: September 24, 2019

Still reeling from her recent battle (and grounded until she graduates), Alice must abandon her friends to complete her mission: find The Heart and prevent the Red Lady’s rise. But the deeper she ventures into Wonderland, the more topsy-turvy everything becomes. It’s not until she’s at her wits end that she realizes—Wonderland is trying to save her.
There’s a new player on the board; a poet capable of using Nightmares to not only influence the living but raise the dead. This Poet is looking to claim the Black Queen’s power—and Alice’s budding abilities—as their own.
Dreams have never been so dark in Wonderland, and if there is any hope of defeating this mystery poet’s magic, Alice must confront the worst in herself, in the people she loves, and in the very nature of fear itself.

My Review:
‘A Dream So Dark’ wastes no time in picking up where ‘A Dream So Dark’ left off. The raw emotion reverberating off Alice reeling from the shock of the Nightmare attacks, paired with her mother’s anguish in wanting to know the reason of Alice’s change of behavior, is written beautifully. I knew that I was in for a ride!

Alice returns to Wonderland in order to discover why Nightmares (creatures generated out of fear) have suddenly invaded both sides of her world in a big way. The Dreamwalker stops at nothing to find the answers, and finds herself in different areas of Wonderland that she’s never traveled before. This fun retelling of Alice and Wonderland reintroduces special characters from Lewis Caroll’s tale in a delightful manner, while keeping the modern, action-packed story line in place. The story was well paced, and the world building continues to expand vibrantly with these new characters and settings. Among the things I really appreciated about the novel were:

Multiple Perspectives
Along with Alice’s point of view, readers also get inside the mind of two other popular characters in Wonderland lore. It certainly opens your eyes on the story of Wonderland before (and during) the great war takes place!

Strong Representation
This story is richly diverse, featuring Dreamwalkers from many ethnic backgrounds. There is also strong Queer representation here, which is very refreshing to read! L.L. McKinney is very aware that a large audience reads her books, and she stops at nothing to include many voices in this novel.

Family Connection
Along with a deeper understanding of the world of Wonderland, we also get to learn more about Alice’s family. The conversations between Alice and her grandmother were funny and adorable! Alice has a strong family unit in the midst of trauma and loss (and Chapter 7 almost brought me to tears!).

If there one thing that I didn’t appreciate in the story, it was the way the book concluded…knowing that a third book in the Nightmare-Verse series is being released in the future (woo!), the story didn’t leave many mysteries unsolved. I’ll still buy the third book, though, to discover that big unanswered question still lingering in Wonderland!

‘A Dream So Dark’ by L.L. McKinney is a great sequel in the Nightmare-Verse, and it continues to feature a strong, Black female taking charge in a leading role. If you enjoy an action-packed, fairy tale retelling, then you will definitely love this one!

Rating: 4/5 Stars


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