received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is July 12, 2016.
The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. A place where Alice could finally rest, no longer the plaything of the Rabbit, the pawn of Cheshire, or the prey of the Jabberwocky. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash—and hope is nowhere to be found. Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King. The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen
Another reviewer had mentioned that they felt like they were reading a completely different story with this sequel and I have to agree. The first one was so much darker than this one. There was also a little more focus on romance with this one between Alice and Hatcher. I don't actually have a problem with the romance part of it. In the first book, there was so much support and friendship and protectiveness between Alice and Hatcher that it seems natural they would start falling for each other. It wasn't really an instantaneous thing. I loved the relationship between these two. Both Hatcher and Alice have their demons and because of that, they understand each other and they have each other's backs.
The book starts with Alice and Hatcher trying to make their way through the Old City to find Hatcher's daughter. The journey takes them deep into a forest where there are fearful townspeople and gentle giants who are stuck under the spell of the evil White Queen. As usual, Alice's love of food and her sweet tooth totally endeared her to me. I love people who love food. I loved the character development of Alice. Maybe it was because everything that happened to her in the last book, but she became less naive and more proactive. She was willing to jump right into things and fight evil without waiting on someone to tell her how to do it. She also spent some time struggling with her magic powers and how to use them. That was another plus in my book: I liked that she wasn't automatically a genius when it came to magic and the author didn't write it as something that came naturally to her.
As usual, Christina Henry takes a well loved story and adds her own twist to the story we know so well. Yes, there was a Red Queen but there was also a White Queen and a Black King. The story of the dynamic between the three of them was intense and surprising. I won't spoil the book by mentioning which characters were evil and which ones were good, but I will say there were a few twists to it.
So what did I not like about this book? Mainly the pacing. This book moved so slowly at parts. There is also a time when Alice and Hatcher get separated because of the White Queen and they spend a majority of the book apart. Since I loved their relationship so much, I wanted more of them. There were long periods where not much happened at all, except for some encounters with giants and townspeople. I wanted more darkness and more magic and more of the Queen. Even though I loved the story of the two queens and the king, I wanted more. The author told the story and Alice had to rescue some children, but there was actually very minimal interaction with the Queens themselves. That was another surprising twist.
All in all, this book was a good finale to this story even if it did have a few issues.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Borrow this one. It is worth the read, especially if you read the first one. I just don't think it was as good as the first one.