‘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

My TBR list for September

Summer is winding down, which usually means that spooky content is all around us! I saw these Peanuts Halloween cards displayed in Walmart yesterday, and got sooo excited!

I’m also looking forward to reading some books with dark content, as two pre-ordered reads are coming my way next month!

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

‘Tunnel of Bones’ is the second installment of the Cassidy Blake series. After almost drowning when she was eleven, Cassidy has the ability to see ghosts, crossing into the ‘Veil’ at any given moment. Her best friend Jacob, a ghost himself, is also back to accompany Cassidy on a new adventure!

‘A Dream So Dark’ by L.L. Mikinney

When I finished reading ‘A Blade So Black last year, I pre-ordered the sequel immediately. I had to. After reading such an action-packed Alice in Wonderland retelling, with THAT cliffhanger, there was no question about it!

Sweet Melody by Heidi McCahan

‘Sweet Melody’ is a lighter read, as it tells the tale of Lindsay, a young entrepreneur and Rhett, a struggling artist as they work together to revitalize Lindsay’s food truck business. I will post my review as part of a blog tour in mid-September!

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

It’s amazing that 2019 is halfway through! I’ve been seeing this tag circulate throughout June, and I’m glad that I’m finally taking part in it. I see this as a way to relieve wedding planning stress lol!
I came across this book tag through Adventures of a Bibliophile‘s page.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019
I really enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I read the audiobook version of this story, and it was absolutely amazing. It felt like I was listening to an actual band’s rise and fall in history. The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faraqi was a close second in favorite reads thus far.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019
I haven’t really read through a sequel yet! I’m currently in progress of reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. So far I’m enjoying it!

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half of the Year
I can’t wait to read A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney. I really love reading Alice in Wonderland reboots, and A Blade So Black was a lovely modern take on a classic story. The book features a strong, African-American character as Alice, which is very empowering.

Biggest Disappointment
I wasn’t particularly into Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. As much as it was refreshing to discover Nikolai, I found the story as mostly filler.

Biggest Surprise
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. I was pleasantly surprised in discovering how good this story was! The message of female empowerment in the face of a patriarchal society came through clearly.

Newest Fictional Crush
I would say that Joe Reynolds from Time After Time was very intriguing to learn about! He was hard-working and passionate at the same time, and that always wins me over.

Newest Favorite Character
Addison Hatta in A Blade So Black. He was a super cool individual!

Book That Made You Cry
Daisy Jones and the Six. The last hour of the story was heartbreaking!

Book That Made You Happy
Wish by Barbara O’Connor. It was so endearing, and the dog/child bond was adorable!

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation
Honestly, I haven’t watched too many book to film programs this year. I heard that Good Omens is amazing to watch on Amazon Prime, so I should catch an episode of that series.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year
I would say that the post about ‘The First Book Series I Read’ was one that I really liked writing about. I love all the posts I’ve worked on, but I enjoyed looking back on what I read when I was younger!

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau-Preto. I received it through OwlCrate a couple months ago.

What Books Do You Need To Read By the End of the Year
Definitely A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney, and Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan. I’m looking forward to reading The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See as well.