Friday, September 29, 2017

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice #1), by Christina Henry (author), Jenny Sterlin (narrator)

Recorded Books, January 2016 (original publication August 2015

Alice is a young woman living in an insane asylum in a city divided.

She grew up in the New City, and at sixteen, she went with a friend, Dor, on an adventure into the Old City. The Old City is completely surrounded and contained by the New City, and contains all that the New City would like to deny. That includes dirt and poverty, but also crime and magic.

The adventure did not go well, and Alice is returned to the New City talking only of a tall man with long rabbit ears. Soon she is hospitalized, and is fed powders with every meal that dull her senses and awareness.

In time she starts talking to another patient through a mouse hole in the wall between their cells. That man's name is Hatcher, although it didn't used to be.

One of his few memories is of killing a lot of people with a hatchet.

Among their other topics of conversation, he tells her a terrifying tale of a creature he calls the Jabberwock. It's a creature of power and magic, and utterly destructive, and is currently imprisoned in the basement of the hospital they're in. He can feel it sometimes, when it wakes up.

And then one night, the hospital burns. Alice and Hatcher escape, but so does the Jabberwock.

Alice is plunged back into a nightmare she and Hatcher had both mostly forgotten.

Alice was raised in the comfort and safety of the New City. She's been nowhere except the hospital for ten years. Now she's out in the Old City, hunting the Rabbit and hoping to kill or contain the Jabberwock, along with a man who tells her he's an ax murderer.

What could possibly go wrong?

This is a really impressive reworking of the Lewis Carroll's Alice stories, and a lot darker than I normally like. But Alice and Hatcher, and the people they encounter, including the Rabbit, the Walrus, the Caterpillar, and Cheshire, are interesting, complicated, compelling characters. I might not go on to read the next book in the sequence, but I don't at all regret reading, or rather listening to, this one.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.