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…
The Red Queen by Christina Henry
Publication Date: July 12, 2016 by Ace
I absolutely LOVED the first book in this trilogy and so I started Red Queen with very high expectations. Unfortunately, the second book fell a bit flat compared to the pace of the trilogy’s introduction and I found it a little harder to connect with.
I think the major reason for my disappointment was the focus on Alice’s romantic feelings for Hatcher. Although they make a badass duo, the first book was much more subtle about their relationship and while it was easy to see the tension between them in Alice, it felt like the author went a little overboard in sharing Alice’s feelings for Hatcher in Red Queen. Alice’s repeated internal dialogues about how Hatcher would soon look at her as a woman and not a girl kept reminding me of this song from Sunny in Philadelphia’s musical episode:
I have nothing against romance as part of a novel, but I felt that this particular focus on relationship took away from the intensity of the storyline that Alice initially introduced. I wanted to hear more of Alice’s adventures – not her love of Hatcher.
There was also a bit more repetition of certain pieces of information (in addition to Alice’s feelings for Hatcher) that felt a bit forced. Alice keeps reminding herself (and in turn, the reader) that she is strong and independent – she doesn’t need anyone to save her! She’s not a damsel in distress! And while Alice clearly exhibits some major badass, feminist qualities (without giving spoilers, Alice is the heroic one all on her own in this book – girl power!), her constant need to remind herself of that started to feel a little overdone:
‘I don’t belong to anybody but myself,’ she whispered.
‘I am not a prize,’ Alice said. Really, why did she feel like she had to say this over and over? Why did every man she encountered want to put her in a box and keep her there?
These types of statements on their own would have felt empowering, but Alice’s self-doubt would immediately resurface after such strong statements and I started to feel like Alice’s wavering self-confidence was becoming a bit too borderline on Bella’s doormat status in Twilight.
Certain creative aspects of the trilogy that I loved in the first book were still somewhat there in Red Queen (the white queen’s cruelty, the woods and the terrifying goblin that stalks them) which is why I ultimately gave Red Queen three stars instead of two. There are plenty of other great trilogies out there that haven’t necessarily held five star status for me throughout all three books, which is why I’m holding out with the hope that the third and final book will give me more of that dark, science fiction action that Alice introduced!