Literary Minute – A Blade So Black

“Mixing elements of Alice in Wonderland and Buffy the Vampire Slayer… a delectable urban twist on beloved fantasy tales.” —Entertainment Weekly

“This really is Lewis Carroll by way of Buffy, and it makes for a fun, gritty urban fantasy.” —NPR

“A brash, refreshing, vitally diverse retelling of a classic… You need this book.” —


A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney was a very interesting read. McKinney creates a world of danger, thrills, and black girl magic in this read. Volume 1 in “The Nightmare-Verse” series, this book delivers to us a classic tale with an unnerving twist.

The story opens up and we are introduced to Alice. She’s a struggling high schooler who calls the suburban streets of Atlanta, Georgia home. Combine normal teenage drama with an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA with the burden of fighting monstrous beasts called nightmares and protecting your true love from certain death and you get this roller coaster of a novel.

We see the story progress as Alice is trained as a warrior by Addison Hatta, aka the resident heart throb/guardian of the gateway to Wonderland, but also struggling to make it back home before curfew. McKinney brings in some touchier topics such as the threat of police violence in her neighborhood, and Alice’s position as a black girl in our human world as a way to again bring light to other wise shadowed topics. I thought the book was a decent read. There were times where I was a little lost to be honest but the story alone was filled with so much, I applaud McKinney for her debut novel and everything she was trying to do. Now, weither it met its intended mark, that’s for you to decide. For me, it met my need to see someone like myself, aka a woman of color, represented effectively and holding a place in the science fiction hall of books.

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