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A Blade So Black

(The Nightmare-Verse #1)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  5,814 ratings  ·  1,515 reviews
The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slippi
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Imprint
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Kym's Open Books I post the mature content on my blog for YA books. I will be posting the content for this next week.

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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  5,814 ratings  ·  1,515 reviews

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The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
1/10/18 - Holy maple bacon cupcakes batman, that COVER!!! That cover! That cover gives me #BlackGirlMagic feels all up and down my spine! It's everything and it's why #representationmatters.

I've been meaning to write an actual review but really all I can say is
I wish a book like this existed when I was a little Black nerd girl who grew up on a steady diet of Mighty Isis, The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman and Emma Peel. Alice was total #heroinegoals and the Nightmare-verse was definitely harrowing
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The amount of negative reviews this book is getting from butthurt white people because the author tweeted saying whiteness tires her so much is fucking ridiculous. Reverse racism does not exist. Plus, the fact that it took a black woman tweeting a pretty valid negative thing about white people caused such an uproar is very telling. Where were all of you people with these negative reviews concerning *actual* problematic books and authors? This is why people of color are so adamant about not givin ...more
Tanya Tate
May 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
Edit: July 22 2020 Surprise Surprise! I bet you didn't see this coming!

Book Stats 
Stars: 2 Stars
Start Date : 6/26/20
Ending Date: 7/22/20 
Genre: YA Fantasy ,Retellings
Form:  Audiobook/ Ebook
Page Count: 384
Publishing Date: 2018
Point of View:  3rd Person
Setting: Atlanta, GA, Wonderland 

You can read it on my blog!

Note: Due to the fact my real review of this book is kind of long, I ran out of character space. So I removed most of my two OG non reviews to the end of my blog review. I have to keep t
Joanna J.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
First, let me start with things I liked about the book: that cover is gorgeous! Any book lover knows a good cover is LIFE, am I right?! I also like the concept behind the book, because Alice in Wonderland has never felt like the tame, docile movie Disney spun out. A darker, more vicious story sounded awesome. I really appreciate LL McKinney's creative take on a classic story, and I'm a huge Buffy fan, so I loved that concept as well! I was disappointed with the actual realization of this charact ...more
Terry Bell
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not to brag, but. *I* got to read an early draft of this, and if you're jealous right now? You should be. Alice is the ass-kicking, Sailor-Moon-cosplaying, out-Buffying-Buffy heroine you didn't know you were waiting for. <3 ...more
jv poore
Alice is beyond badass in Ms. McKinney's pumped-up, re-imagined Wonderland. A Blade So Black is the epitome of what gets me excited for "my" students.

Although, I could kick myself for finishing this one without having the follow-up, A Dream So Dark, right beside me.
Heidi Heilig
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot wait for this book.

Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
this is basically just city of bones + twilight (alice in wonderland version)

DNF @ 46%

Review copy provided by Macmillan in exchange for an honest review! Thanks so much!
Sheila Goicea
Feb 04, 2019 marked it as not-interested
I won't be reading this book due to the author's tactless twitter attack and mob mongering, forcing another author to pull her debut novel from publishing later this year in June. Yet again, a poor example of how one should NOT carry themselves in their profession. ...more
Tori (InToriLex)
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it

This was written perfectly to appeal to black teens who never knew they could enjoy fantasy. Alice is a courageous teen who discovers her own power to kill monsters called Nightmares from the mysterious Wonderland. She has to grapple with real monsters in Wonderland while also dealing with the trauma of feeling unsafe and gun violence in her neighborhood. Alice's best friends are Courtney and Chess they make endearing jokes about race and try to empathize with her experience. All of
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
Aug 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: august-2018
I received an arc from Raincoast Books Canada in exchange for a honest review. 

When I first saw the cover of this book, I screamed. I loved the cover so much and when I read what the book was about--an Alice in Wonderland retelling--I screamed even louder. So imagine my disappointment when I read the first couple of chapters and really, really, really, couldn't push through another page. 

Firstly, the writing isn't very good. It's a fantasy with whimsical elements that if executed well could soar
J.A. Ironside
Ok, I probably wasn't going to read this in any case because aside from any other issues which have been raised, I've never read an 'Alice' re-telling or re-imagining which has in anyway captured the spirit of the original. So that kinda makes it an automatic pass.

Having said that, I'm really not comfortable with the way people are rating this book when they haven't read it. I ended up reading several books because people were rating them 1 star without reading them - including 'the Black Witch'
I had seen a lot of talk about this one, but didn’t realize it was an Alice in Wonderland retelling until recently and I was so excited for it.

I liked Alice well enough. She’s loyal and she means well, but she came across as bratty and ungrateful. Yes, yes, classic teenager attitude, yet when you’re legit never home and your mom is extra worried due to a neighborhood girl being recently killed, maybe don’t be a dick. There is a pretty large cast of characters here, but I wasn’t really drawn in

I'm so sorry ya'll. I wanted so badly to love this book and I didn't. It wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't a great book. It definitely fell middle of the road for me. While I loved the idea of a Black Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown into an Alice in Wonderland world, I was completely and totally not feeling any of it for most of the book. The main issue with this book was the pacing. Readers are literally thrown into a fantasy world within the first few pages of the novel without any signifi
Alice (Married To Books)
DNF @ 45%

I was on the promotional blog tour for this book! I received a digital ARC for review via the website NetGalley.

I really wanted to like this one, since my name is Alice, I was named after Alice in Wonderland but for me, I was not connecting with the writing style. The pacing was far too slow for me, with a lot of telling and not showing. Alice is a POC and has two lives: One in Atlanta, USA and the other in Wonderland. I liked the element of battling creatures in Wonderland but it wasn'
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
Jul 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018, physical-2018
Yall, no. The writing is not my style. It is choppy, rough, and difficult to get through. There is no fluidity to it at all. This is a book that didn't show me what was happening, it told me. I never connected with any part of this at all.


Full review can be found here:

If you ever want to talk about a book that was an absolute struggle to get through, pull up a chair and get cozy because we’ll talk about this book. And you better clear your calendar
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs, alice
Netgalley provided me a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Let it be known that if you write a re-imagining or re-interpretation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I will read it.

BUT. It either has to be completely original (like Christina Henry's Alice--a shocking, violent romp that leaves a lasting impression) or REALLY good (like Marissa Meyer's Heartless--a prequel story about the Red Queen that is PERFECTION).

Which is why this one was so disappointing. It has original going
Mireille Jacobs
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I want to thank all the people who pointed out the author's Twitter feed, and posted links to Tweets of hers where she expresses honest frustration with the racism of the YA genre. You've convinced me to read this book, where previously I might not have been that interested in it. Anyone who is the target of organized hate campaigns as she clearly is (what is this, high school??), and who still has the courage to speak truth to power, is brave enough to get my interest. And I'm also going to che ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh man, this book was FUNNY. As funny as it was action-packed, and the incorporation of all the familiar Alice in Wonderland elements was genius. I love me a sassy, courageous girl MC!
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
An Alice in Wonderland retelling with a black representation for Alice? I couldn’t resist – I had to have it! Combined with that cover, there was no way I wasn’t going to be able to read this one. I signed up for the tour straight away and don’t regret it at all. I breezed through this book this summer and I’m so happy to finally have read an Alice in Wonderland retelling that I liked. Because this one actually made sense!

Having said that, I have to admit, the prologue did confuse me a little bi
Bridget Vollmer
She's not getting my money ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
updated review on october 4th 2018: i was really excited for this story, but i couldn't get into it, mostly because of the writing. i liked the characters well enough (especially alice and her mom tbh) and the story is interesting, but i only got /really/ interested on what was going on in the last 15% or so. not enough to make me want to read the next book, to be honest, but i admit i'm intrigued by what might happen in this story.

comment made on may 18th 2018: racists are giving this book one
Oct 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's often difficult to separate an author from their work, so I'll do this review in two parts. First, the author:
McKinney might think she's on a righteous quest to bring diversity to the publishing industry, but her message is riddled with outright racism and hatred. She blatantly rails against "whiteness", white feminists, and attacks successful books that aren't by black authors. She attacked PBS and "white readers" for their Voters Book Choice list, as the readers choose many beloved books
As a huge Alice in Wonderland fan the second I heard A Blade so Black is a retelling where it was actually Buffy who fell down the rabbit hole I was all in for this book and I'm so happy to say that it lived up to my high expectations.

Alice is a fantastic character, she's smart and hard working and she knows how to kick butt. She may not always make the right choices but she goes with her gut and she'll fight to the death for the people cares about. Ever since she was attacked by a creature stra
Jay G
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Want to see more from me? Check out my youtube channel:

*I was sent a copy in exchange for my honest review*

Alice, a young African American girl, is trying to balance her regular life with an overbearing mother and a needy best friend while also being trained to hunt and kill Nightmares in Wonderland by a warrior named Addison Hatta.

I was so excited when I originally heard of this book! An Alice in Wonderland retelling with monster hunting?! Sign me up!
This was just bad. It throws you into a plot with no build up or explanation, the writing is clunky and cringe-inducing, and most of the characters have little to no development. I was so excited to read a take on Alice in Wonderland with a POC has the MC and, while this is ostensibly presented as that, it doesn't really have the qualities you expect from Alice in Wonderland. The setting is barely described, she doesn't spend enough time in Wonderland to make it work, and the majority of her tim ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: came-soon-18-20
Full review:

A fun and fierce debut from one of the nicest authors you’ll ever meet (She was wearing a tiny top hat. What more can I say.) Alice herself is strong, while still living a real life and having relatable fears. Almost every aspect of the original Alice in Wonderland was thrown into the present, from the door mouse to the Jabberwocky. While this wasn’t the most “technical” fantasy novel, I really enjoyed the ridiculous, and arguably darker, take
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
There's just something about retellings that just sucks me in. Or maybe it's because I just grew up on all things related to Disney. Movies? I will crush them. Books? Please let me devour them. Anything else? I need, I want.. and I will get. So when I saw that A Blade So Black was a retelling of Alice in Wonderland? Well, let's just say that I didn't hesitate one freaking bit and I dropped everything else around me like a hot potato.

After diving into this beautiful book and flying through it? W
"We can change the whole world
Gonna take it over, gonna start it over
Don't you know what we could be?
A new beginning, fight until we're winning
Tell me that you're in it
Don't you wanna be a superhero?"

-Simon Curtis

"Heroes always get remembered, but you know legends never die!"
-Panic! at the Disco, "The Emperor's New Clothes"

The last ARC I traded for online in August, finally reviewing now, and I'm gonna call this one a case of saving the best for last.

Sorry, Splintered, but I think I have a new
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Other books in the series

The Nightmare-Verse (4 books)
  • Untitled (Nightmare-Verse #0.5)
  • A Dream So Dark (Nightmare-Verse, #2)
  • A Crown So Cursed (Nightmare-Verse, #3)

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