Book Review: Looking Glass by Christina Henry

What is it?

A collection of short horror stories.

Who’s the writer?

Christina Henry is predominantly a horror writer who creates gruesome and chilling worlds from stories we are likely to know from our childhoods. The Mermaid is an exception, as a beautiful historical fiction set in P.T. Barnum’s museum. Her book Alice, which this short story collection links to, was one of Amazon’s best Science Fiction and Fantasy books in 2015 and came second in the Goodreads Choice awards for Best Horror. In short, her books are well worth investing some time in if you like a scary read.

What’s it about?

In 2015 Christina Henry released the first book of her Alice duology, which was followed by Red Queen. These books created a dark, new interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. In Alice, Christina Henry distilled all the quintessential elements of Alice in Wonderland and turned them into a horrifically dystopian world that is the everyday reality for the citizens of the Old City. She found new homes and new careers for the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat placing them at the heart of a rotten city utterly corrupted and without mercy. Red Queen then moves the story on, exploring the no less lethal world outside the city.

Looking Glass is a collection of short stories that gives further insight into Alice’s terrifying and brutal reality. Each story introduces new characters and moves on the timeline, and our understanding of the main characters. Each story is a self-contained episode, but readers will get so much more out of this book if they have already read Alice and Red Queen.

The book shows off Christina Henry’s capabilities as a horror writer and adds to our understanding of Alice’s disturbing and violent world. Most interestingly for me, we get our first real insight into the New City, which until now we have had only the briefest of glimpses, and Alice’s family.

For fans of Alice this book is a fantastic expansion of a world that you are unlikely to love, but will be hypnotised, horrified and intrigued by. I’m also very hopeful that the new characters we meet will be seen again soon in their own stories. Alice’s world has been painted so vividly it draws you in and I hope it won’t be too long before there is another opportunity to visit.

Is it any good?

Yes. Creepy, twisted and, at times, just flat out bloody. Whilst readers would benefit from reading Alice and Red Queen, this is a perfect Halloween read.

Published by Eddie Bar

Fantasy storyteller, reader and wargamer.

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