Book Reviews · Fantasy · POPSUGAR Reading Challenge · Young Adult

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2021 Update: Week Thirty

Good morning, everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful week so far, and that you are continuing to stay healthy!

I have continued to struggle with my allergies this week, but I am happy to report that I am feeling a bit better overall.

In last week’s update, I mentioned that I was in the process of reading two books for the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. While I did attempt to finish both of those books this week, I was only able to complete one of them. (And I’m actually debating about whether or not I will finish reading The Lost and Found Bookshop. Since it focuses on a character who is grieving her mother, I’ve been having a really hard time with it, and I may try to find another book that fits the same prompt.)

The book I finished for this week’s update was A Blade So Black, by L.L. McKinney.

A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the cover…

A Blade So Black is the first book in McKinney’s Nightmare-Verse trilogy, and introduces the reader to Alice Kingston, a teenage girl from Atlanta.

When her father suddenly dies, Alice’s world is shattered. Desperate to escape, she runs out of the hospital, only to find herself coming face-to-face with a living Nightmare. She is saved by Addison Hatta, an exile from a world called Wonderland, whose job is to train humans to fight and destroy the Nightmares that threaten both his world and theirs.

From Hatta’s base at The Looking Glass pub, Alice begins traveling to Wonderland as a Dreamwalker to hunt Nightmares, armed with twin Figment Blades and her own Muchness.

But it’s a tough job, and Alice is having trouble balancing her journeys into Wonderland with real life…to the point where she’s seriously considering handing in her blades so that Hatta can train someone else.

Before she can do so, however, she finds herself under attack by the Black Knight, a servant of Wonderland’s Black Queen (once known as the Queen of Hearts). The Black Knight is after a powerful relic that he believes is in Hatta’s possession, and he will stop at nothing to get it. When the Black Knight poisons Alice’s mentor, she must travel to Wonderland once more to find a cure.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Blade So Black! The novel tells a great story, and includes a lot of action and drama. I was really impressed with the way in which McKinney chose to develop the characters…especially Alice herself. Her struggle to balance her duties as a Dreamwalker with her responsibilities as a daughter and friend really drives the story forward, and makes her seem very real to the audience.

Whether you are a fan of Alice in Wonderland, enjoy re-imaginings of classic stories, or just love young adult fantasy titles, I highly recommend giving A Blade So Black a try. It’s a book that can definitely be enjoyed by both teenage and adult readers, and I’m sure you’ll have a hard time putting it down. I’m already looking forward to picking up the next book in the series as soon as possible!

There are currently two books available in the Nightmare-Verse trilogy, including A Blade So Black and A Dream So Dark. The third book, A Crown So Cursed, is currently scheduled to be released on February 1, 2023.

Next Saturday I will be posting my July update for Beat the Backlist, so next week’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update will be posted on Friday, July 30th. In the meantime, I hope you will join me here on The Unapologetic Bookworm on Wednesday for my review of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Blood of Elves.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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