Gripping and original, [i]Alice[/i], marks Christina Henry’s first foray into her astonishing reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland mythos. TorturedGripping and original, [i]Alice[/i], marks Christina Henry’s first foray into her astonishing reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland mythos. Tortured by a past she can’t entirely remember, the titular Alice finds herself incarcerated in a mad house; trapped and alone save for the presence of the mysterious Hatcher in the room next door. With no one else to turn to, Hatcher becomes the rock to which she tethers her sanity, even as the medications blur her grip on reality, but when the hospital mysteriously burns down she’ll discover that she is as important to his survival as he is to hers.
Brilliantly disturbing, Christina Henry’s Alice takes a fresh look at the oft told tale of the young girl that fell down the rabbit hole. Emerging in a world better encapsulated by the noun “horror” than “wonder” Alice must survive in an environment that would see women relegated to less than second class citizens. Many of the classic tale’s memorable cast make and appearance, but in vastly unrecognisable roles; each though, once more pushing ‘their’ Alice to uncover her true powers.
As disturbing as the tale gets Christina Henry manages to narrate the story astonishingly well and while some readers might finds passages not to their tastes, it cannot be argued that they are gratuitous. Each action of the key antagonists fits perfectly into the twisted nature of the world she has created, remaining shocking yet believable throughout. Alongside this, that pacing of the novel is excellent, revealing just enough information to keep the reader grasping for more.
If I were to find one mild disappointment about the novel, it would be in the ending. After spinning a haunting tale for over three hundred pages, the novel’s climaxing altercation concludes in a matter paragraphs. It feels at odds with the rest of the book. Throughout, Alice and Hatcher are forced into some pretty grim situations yet the manner in which the climax resolves itself is almost dreamlike. When all hope is lost, so too is the grittiness of the work. In spite of this I’d still recommend giving [i]Alice[/i] a read. This is one look at the classic tale that you’re not likely to forget. ...more
Beautifully written and original, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in Laini Taylor's trilogy of the same name. In Taylor's richly detailedBeautifully written and original, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in Laini Taylor's trilogy of the same name. In Taylor's richly detailed world Karou is a seemingly normal human girl, even if strange things seem to happen when she's around, or not as her friend Zuzana frequently complains. You see, Karou leads a secret life, one in which she is raised by the great Chimera Brimstone, and his eclectic entourage of bestial individuals. However, Karou's lives, both on Earth and in 'Elsewhere' are about to collide, and if she doesn't unravel the truth about her own existence, she may lose one or both of her pasts. But time is running out, and soon the doors between worlds could be lost forever.
It would be difficult for me to discuss Daughter of Smoke and Bone without addressing the wonderful cast of characters that inhabit the book's two worlds. Karou is every bit the likeable heroine: tough, independent and yet ultimately conflicted, both by the secrets of her past and the emergence of her future. Complete with an eclectic background cast (stoic Brimstone, merry Issa and dramatic Zuzana) the world comes alive through their delightful interactions.
It is with the brooding angel Akiva, however, that Karou's character really comes to light. While her former self is entirely self sufficient, it is through the intervention of Akiva that Karou begins to unravel the secrets hidden in her past, and ultimately allowing her to play out her role as Juliet to his Romeo. Far from a tale of woe though, Karou's story is full of hope, of love and ultimately of redemption.
Karou and Akiva's story, however, is just the appetiser for what, in my opinion is the strongest part of Daughter of Smoke and Bone - the story of Madrigal. Where the former is a rather Gothic feeling adventure in Prague, the latter is an extravagant tale of love in the mysterious 'Elsewhere.' Here Madrigal is a beautiful but tough soldier in the Chimera army, destined to break her society's most fundamental rule; to not only save, but fall in love with the enemy. A magical fairytale unfolds, and it is hard not to get pulled into the wonderfully realised world.
All of this is told in Taylor's unique style that draws the reader in. I must admit though that, at times, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was missing something and that it was the writing and the wonderful characters that kept me reading. The book's last chapter is a prime example of this. I remember closing in on those final pages wondering how things could be wrapped up in time, and eventually reconciling myself with the fact that events would be dragged out in a second book. But that wasn't to be; the novel ends rather harshly and where the rest of Daughter of Smoke and Bone was detailed and engrossing, it was hard not to feel cheated by the ending. After being wooed by the tale of Madrigal and excited by the world of Karou and Akiva I felt that one of the most interesting prospects in the book was taken from the reader, and one of the book's most prominent questions answered quite abruptly.
It is for this reason that I feel Daughter of Smoke and Bone falls just short of being a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy love story. This one gets a thumbs up from me but it could have been so much more....more