ARC Review: A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney

A Dream So Dark (A Blade So Black, #2)A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Still reeling from her recent battle (and grounded until she graduates), Alice must abandon her friends to complete her mission: find The Heart and prevent the Red Lady’s rise. But the deeper she ventures into Wonderland, the more topsy-turvy everything becomes. It’s not until she’s at her wits end that she realizes—Wonderland is trying to save her.

There’s a new player on the board; a poet capable of using Nightmares to not only influence the living but raise the dead. This Poet is looking to claim the Black Queen’s power—and Alice’s budding abilities—as their own.

Dreams have never been so dark in Wonderland, and if there is any hope of defeating this mystery poet’s magic, Alice must confront the worst in herself, in the people she loves, and in the very nature of fear itself.

Warnings: violence, manipulation by mind control

Alice and her team’s plan to take the fight to Wonderland and defeat the Black Queen goes awry when they are hindered by Alice’s grounding, and then by a separated and premature entry into Wonderland. While Alice is trying to lay low and keep her mother from getting angry at her again, she has been grieving Chess’ loss, and has also been caught in the crosshairs of the Black Knight who keeps turning up at the worst of times. When they are all transported to Wonderland, they each have to get to their meeting place on their own; Alice, flung way off course, much nearer to another gate, has a long journey ahead of her. Meanwhile, the others are also split up, as they land at different places – Addison is particularly troubled because of the binding on him preventing too much distance from his gate. Wonderland’s past is once again the focus as they try to uncover who is actually the Black Knight and who is using the Black Queen’s power.

The story is much more expansive this time, as we get to know more characters, and get glimpses into life in Wonderland, as well as some of its creatures. The additional PoVs of Addison and the Black Knight give more space for the story to grow, as Alice isn’t all that informed about the past. The Knight particularly has conflicting memories in his head, and I had a lot of theories going on as to who was the Black Queen and still ended up being surprised. On the relationship front, there’s a lot going on, with some sexualities confirmed (I definitely wasn’t imagining Alice appreciating the White Knight in the last book) and a prior relationship revealed; so this get a thumbs up for adding more queer content. Alice’s growing powers leave us with more questions than before, and I am still a bit confused over the whole dream sequence but as of now, I am ready to take it as it is, until we get more backstory. Eventually, it leaves us with a conclusion that begs for more storyline, as it seems their problems may not be entirely over.

Is it diverse? bisexual main characters, with one of them also being a black girl; secondary sapphic couple

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Imprint, via Edelweiss.

Previous books in The Nightmare-Verse series

A Blade So Black (Nightmare-Verse, #1)

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

Released on September 24, 2019

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