Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling
Publication: September 25th 2018 by Imprint
Format: ARC (thank you, Imprint!)

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.


A BLADE SO BLACK has been on my radar for a while, and I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this novel. Overall, I really liked the concept of the novel and there was so much action that I just soaked up but there were a few reservations that I had about this book.

First off, I just want to talk about that awesome cover -I loved seeing a black girl on the cover of this book, wielding weapons and basically looking super kick-ass. Alice is a student who is friends with Court and Chess, who work at a pub (Looking Glass), but also moonlights as a fighter of Nightmares in the land of Wonderland under her teacher Addison Hatta. This novel is packed to the brim with action, and I enjoyed reading these fight scenes. What I really liked about this novel was the ending, which I found to be one of the best endings; the epilogue makes for a great cliffhanger in anticipation for the sequel.

My main reservations about this novel is that it felt rushed. The writing was decent, but I just felt like too much went on in this novel – I felt like this novel could have been better if it was split into two books or was just longer overall. The stuff that goes on in this book is just too much to fit in 384 pages. Specifically, there was a lot explaining the history of how this version of Wonderland came to be (how there was a Black Queen, what happened to the Black Knight, what Nightmares were), that I felt like it was just way too much to fit in one book. I just feel like there are so many nuances of Wonderland that could have been explored if it was longer or less loaded.

Overall, I really liked this book! I think that this novel could have been improved if it wasn’t just so packed to the brim with info-dumping and perhaps split into two books instead of one. I really appreciated the diversity of the characters and the action-filled plot, and I look forward to the next book!

Thank you to Imprint for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


alice name.pngAlice is an 19 year old college student who loves the oxford comma, television shows, and the company of dogs. She finds writing in the third person odd yet enjoyable. You can find her scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and forever organizing her shelves on Goodreads.


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Are you planning to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!


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