Series: The Nightmare-Verse #2
Author: L.L. McKinney
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Fantasy; Young Adult; Retelling
Publisher/Publication Date: Imprint; September 24, 2019
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
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.
The thing with sequels is they can go either way, good, bad, and anything in between. In the case of A Dream So Dark, it was the kind of sequel that got me excited for the next book in the series. I enjoyed it more than I did A Blade So Black. It was the kind of Alice in Wonderland retelling I’ve been looking for. I mean there was everything from a little bit of a mystery to interesting characters, Sailor Moon references, lots of scenes in McKinney’s version of Wonderland, plenty of action, and some pretty entertaining twists. That is to say, A Dream So Dark was worth the read.
From here on out, there may be minor spoilers for the first book. You have been warned.
The story picked up pretty much after the end of the first book, and it followed Alice as she dealt with the fallout of her most recent battle and about what happened to her friend, Chess. In a general sense, I liked the overall story. There was plenty of action to keep me turning the pages. And while I could guess some of what would likely happen, I didn’t know the full story—like the motivation behind the antagonists plots, and how it would all come together and playout in the end. So, I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
The setting was much more developed, and I liked that more of the story took place in Wonderland. It was such an interesting and colorful place, and I liked getting to see more of it—especially the people, the towns, the different kinds of creatures, and so on.
I loved the character development that happened in A Dream So Dark. At the end of A Blade So Black, I had a lot of questions about Alice’s character—and I still have a number of them—but I liked the direction the author took with her character. This time around, Alice was definitely more prepared. She had learned from her past mistakes, and she was ready for a fight. I thought it was great. Another thing I was a fan of was how much more present Alice’s family was. Like there was always the issue of her absences and her mother not being a fan of it or her lies, at all. So there were these really great scenes between her and her mother. There were also scenes with her grandmother as well (who, by the way, was an absolute delight and one of my favorite additions to the story; she’s a character that I want to see more of). I also liked Alice’s friend, Courtney (also known as Court). She was such a personality. She had some pretty entertaining one-liners, and I loved all the scenes she was in. There was also a little more about Addison Hatta’s history, which I liked.
All in all, I really enjoyed A Dream So Dark. It was a great addition to the series, and I’m looking forward to the next book.