Beware the claws that catch…
Inspired by the work of Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice’ follows two escaped mental patients, Alice and Hatcher, as they search for answers to their past in the dark and twisted Old City, all while racing against time to track down a weapon to kill the malevolent Jabberwocky that escaped with them.
Henry has taken a beloved story, and a beloved world and twisted it, broke it apart, into tiny pieces and put it back together into a form that is barely recognisable. It is brilliant.
The city we are shown is deeply disturbing and horrifically cruel, yet filled with people who are just trying to live day to day under the horrendous gaze of the leader of their territory. While populated with familiar characters, their actions and histories are in no way recognisable so each new encounter or scrap of information about a character puts you on edge. I feel obliged to say, if you have a nervous disposition or would be effected by reading about sexual violence – I would suggest you reconsider reading this book. Ultimately, I know it was included as it had importance to the story and the history and workings of the City, but it was still an awful thing to read.
While I am unsure I fully liked the outcome of the battle between Alice and the Jabberwocky – I guess I was expecting something a bit more…elaborate – I do understand why it happened that way. It has a sense of rounded beauty that you often get when the author has a set plan as to how the tale will end. While I don’t claim to know how Henry writes, it did seem this way.
I enjoyed the story and it kept me gripped the whole way though. Both main characters I liked and enjoyed seeing their relationship grow as they help each other become stronger individuals.
I will certainly read more Christina Henry in the future, especially as her most recent novel is about Peter Pan and Captain Hook.
Favourite quotes and passages from Alice:
She matched her breath to his, and it was almost like holding his hand as the night closed in.
I cannot spend the remainder of my life as a moth beating it’s wings against a jar.
There was nothing gleaming and new there, not even the children, who seemed to be birthed with haunted eyes.
…and suddenly she felt like she was drowning, drowning in memory,
She’d darted between grown-up legs, trees made of wool and muslin, smelling of tobacco and perfume.
“You’re only a mouse if you let them make you one.”
…eager to send away the person who no longer fit neatly in the little jigsaw puzzle of their house.
There was a hideous sound from outside, the sound of all the monsters beneath the bed howling at once, the sound of all the lurking nightmares that clung to the darkness…
…a little crimson jewel drying to brown in the never-ending heat.
It made Alice realize how much life was full of empty stuff, objects longed for because the hope of them made your small life seem bigger, better, brighter.