In four new novellas, Christina Henry returns to the universe she created for Alice and Red Queen, where magic runs more freely than anyone suspects, but so do secrets and blood.
In the New City lives a girl called Elizabeth, a girl who has a secret: she can do magic. But someone knows Elizabeth’s secret–someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that lives in a jar, a butterfly made by a girl called Alice.
Girl in Amber
Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm they stumble into a castle that seems empty and abandoned…at least until nightfall.
When I First Came to Town
Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive.
The Mercy Seat
Alice has a secret–a secret that not even Hatcher knows yet, but pretty soon she won’t be able to keep it from him.
Firstly I would like to say a huge thank you to Titan books for providing a copy of this novella collection for review. It was interesting going into this as I loved Alice but I did struggle a little with Red Queen. The story works best for me when Alice and Hatcher are together so equally, this series of novella’s has mixed reviews from me but I found them to be mostly enjoyable and individually able to be read in a sitting.
Lovely Creature was an interesting start as it brings in a new character who has a connection to Alice, in many ways it feels like it could have been an Alice origin story as it has a wonderful feeling of looming dread similar to Alice first meeting The Rabbit. I enjoyed that Elizabeth is open to her magic and isn’t afraid to use it, the labyrinthine Old Town feels imposing and suffocating and her fear as she went deeper was wonderfully realised.
The Girl in Amber was one I didn’t really enjoy quite so much, it’s a story focused on Alice and unfortunately I struggle with her being able to carry a story on her own. She feels a little too unhinged and open to suggestion, her constant inner monologue felt a little repetitive. The monster in this one however is incredibly harrowing, it gave me Alien vibes and it was incredibly dark, probably the darkest of all the villains I’ve read in this series. It’s certainly the most inventive of the 4 but would have benefited in my view from having Alice and Hatcher working together to escape.
When I First Came to Town, is perhaps my favourite of the four, I really loved understanding more of Hatcher’s backstory and the man before the crazy came. It is the longest of the four but doesn’t feel like it, I was really swept up in the underworld and the way that Christina Henry wove the fight sequences was dramatic and page turning. Even though I knew how it ended it still didn’t stop me from fearing for Hatcher and it gave me an added layer of understanding just how evil the Walrus truly was.
The Mercy Seat I also loved but felt was a bit of a missed opportunity, the shortest of the stories but it’s the one that had the most scope for me. The story was chilling and intriguing with an interesting monster of the week and a village straight out of a horror film. I loved being back with the Alice and Hatcher dynamic as well, their characters totally in tune and reminding me of everything I loved about Alice It’s a satisfying conclusion to the series too.
For fans of the series, this collection is a must read as it rounds out the characters and the story wonderfully and I found it a beautifully satisfying ending too.