A Blade So Black

A Blade So Black - L. L. McKinney

She shook the jitters from her hands. Slayer of fear itself, and she was worried about crossing her mom. With damn good reason, but still.


If you love Alice in Wonderland re-imaginings, and you love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the thought of having a Watcher with a British accent in your corner makes you feel warm and squishy inside, but you think the cast was too white and straight and Buffy’s mom was The Worst, OH MY STARS IS THIS THE BOOK FOR YOU.


Alice is freaking awesome. She cosplays Sailor Moon and fights evil with Harry Potter memorabilia and is so kick-ass Buffy Summers could take lessons. She’s also a normal teenager trying to juggle school and friends and Nightmare slaying while dealing with some PTSD and an overprotective mother and the lingering grief from her father’s sudden passing. She’s complex, she’s flawed, she screws up, and she nearly kills herself trying to make it right, and I freaking love her. I’d like to think if I’d gone to school with her, she would’ve been in my D&D group. I also ♥ Courtney and her friendship with Alice. Chess, poor guy, did not make much of an impression on me. He just kind of Xander’d his way through the book, but there wasn’t really room for him to do more in between all the Alice alternately kicking ass and getting her ass kicked.


I’m super excited for the sequel, which I wish was coming out yesterday, because I have some predictions and wild guesses about a few plot points and I’m dying to know if I’m anywhere near the mark.


While I really enjoyed A Blade So Black, I did not get everything in this book, and I want to talk a little bit about why. I am reeeaaaally white, born and raised in a really white neighborhood in a really white city. I can count the number of black kids I went to school with, preschool through 12th grade, on one hand without running out of fingers. When Alice said stuff like “deeze” I had to stop and do some Googling because my experience with AAVE is limited to television, internet memes, and whatever words and phrases have been appropriated into the English lexicon. If publishing in general would get off its fossilized dinosaur arse and publish more books like this, books aimed at black kids without worrying whether a white audience gets it, that wouldn’t be an issue. Empathy and understanding are better achieved when books don’t force the reader to view POC through a white lens. I already know how I see stuff. I need to see other perspectives. And God knows kids of color need to see themselves. So get on it, publishing! *steps off soapbox*


I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Diverse Voices square.