cover image A Blade So Black

A Blade So Black

L.L. McKinney. Imprint, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-15390-6

Ever since police in Atlanta, Ga., killed an unarmed black girl at a school football game, Alice Kingston’s mother has watched Alice like a hawk. The attention is proving problematic for the 17-year-old black Dreamwalker, who secretly guards the city’s Gateway to Wonderland (the “collective unconscious of the entire world”) and slays any monsters (aka “Nightmares”) that attempt to cross over. Alice is pondering retirement when her mentor, Addison Hatta, contracts a mysterious disease dubbed the Madness. Fellow Dreamwalkers Dimitri and Demarcus Tweedlanov join Alice on a quest to secure help from the White Queen, but when they find the queen similarly afflicted, Alice realizes that she might have to risk more than a grounding in order to save the day. Relentless action, spiraling stakes, and a fierce heroine distinguish debut author McKinney’s fantasy update of Alice in Wonderland. The mechanics of Wonderland, its features, and its creatures sometimes feel hastily sketched, and secondary characters lack depth, but McKinney’s imagination knows few bounds, and Alice’s devotion to the others is contagious. A heartbreaking cliffhanger will leave fans clamoring for a sequel. Ages 14–up. [em](Sept.) [/em]