Black History Month – An Interview with L.L. McKinney, Author of A Blade So Black; On Writing Retellings, Missing Parents in YA, and Her Top Three Anime

Black History Month – An Interview with L.L. McKinney, Author of A Blade So Black; On Writing Retellings, Missing Parents in YA, and Her Top Three Anime

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Our Friend is Here: Black History Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond during the month of February, where Black authors are invited to celebrate being Black and Black books! Find the introduction post for Black History Month here.

A series that I’ve been following very closely since its start is A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney, a dark retelling of Alice in Wonderland that packs a heck lot more action. more monsters straight out of nightmares, and a Black teen who becomes a Dreamwalker, a being and fighter who protects our world from Wonderland. A Blade So Black is so much fun and just the perfect action-packed adventure if you want something exciting, fun, but also incredibly relatable and down-to-earth. And then, I discovered – what would become – one of my favourite short stories ever: Your Life Matters, also by L.L. McKinney, about a Black superheroine and her white sidekick, set in a Black Lives Matter protest.

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Book Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney – A Black Retelling of Alice in Wonderland and the Struggles of Being a Teen

Text: A Blade So Black, L.L. McKinney. Image: A Black teen with natural hair, holding a dagger in both hands, wearing a red jacket.

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

CW’s review:

I was pleasantly surprised by A Blade So Black, and I had so much fun reading this book! A Blade So Black is a brilliant retelling of Alice in Wonderland led by a Black-American teen, and is about the struggles of straddling the responsibilities of two worlds, protecting and doing your best for the people that you love, and the pressure of being a heroine with immense responsibility.

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