- L.L. McKinney
- Book 2 of a Trilogy (A Crown So Cursed Comes Out In 2020)
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Heritage: Black; she’s a ridiculously magical Black woman
- IG: @ll_mckinney; Twitter: @ElleOnWords; https://llmckinney.com
- Release: 09/24/2019 (Read A Blade So Black First/Cop them both)
- Publisher: Imprint
- Favorite Character: Nana K! She’s the dopest, flyest, funniest literary Granny I’ve ever read (no offense to other literary grannies)! I love how real she is and though she isn’t a huge part of the book, she steals the scenes she is in.
- Favorite Quote: “That better be Midge with an apology for talkin’ shit like she won’t get hers, or I’ll-“-Nana K (I really want to know how that statement ends though, like will she switch their Vick’s with Tiger Balm or trip their walker while they aren’t watching, what will she do?! LOL). Listen y’all, this is the type of granny I’m going to be one day. When that day comes and I’m poppin’ shit on my stoop or porch & you ask me why I’m like this, I’mma reference this post and say I warned y’all in advance! Seriously, Nana K is a whole ass mood, my Spirit person & I’m here for her! I would like someone like her in my daily life, please and thank you!
When I first heard heard of/saw A Blade So Black posted and the cover had a badass Black Girl on the cover, I was like “SIGN ME UP!” But also knowing that A Blade So Black had Angie Thomas’ stamp of approval on it only solidified my resolve to read it. I stalked Barnes & Noble until that glorious day that she was there…*shakes head in pleasant memory* so beautiful and brilliant amongst the others surrounding her…I don’t even remember the other books because all I saw was ABSB… And I tell you what, that book did not disappoint. So naturally after reading ABSB, I HAD to read A Dream So Dark, which gave me my entire life too! I was excited to run over to Books Of Wonder to get a copy signed by L.L. before the launch (I had class so I had to leave before the pardee started *deep sighs* but class was great, just in case you were wondering) along with getting my copy of ABSB & an ARC of the anthology A Phoenix First Must Burn, which she is a contributor of, signed.
Since this is a sequel, I’m not going to go into a ton of detail with this because there are quite a few new things, as there often are in sequels, and to share any aspect of them is a spoiler but this book was mindblowing! So much happened that I simply was.not.ready.for *wall slides*!
Alice went through it in this book, just as she did in ABSB but she definitely grew more into her dreamwalker role… I felt like a proud auntie! She was even more badass and I didn’t even know the shit was possible *shock face*. Alice owns the shit and in the most glorious of ways! She took her #BlackGirlMagic and amplified it x10! Ugh, I just love her in this book. She’s hysterical, sarcastic & witty but also caring, loyal & observant so she tells no lies. Alice questions a lot but she also gives some benefit of a doubt (something a lot of us do but maybe shouldn’t… I digress doe). She holds herself and the people around her accountable (herself more than anyone though), which is a great aspect of her character. What also spoke to me is her “Fuck it, I’ll do it” attitude on some things because I’m the exact same way (I have receipts but they aren’t necessary right now). There were definite moments where I was like “I need Alice to sit her ass down” but she’s a Black Girl in the U S of A and that shit rarely happens and thus, she gets shit done *shrugs*.
I also really appreciated how we got to see vulnerability from Alice that many Black Girls/Women don’t get the benefit of displaying. We are perpetually plagued with other’s thoughts/views of having to be so strong all the time, grin & bare it, “you can take it” notions of our personhood when we feel shit & bleed blood too muthafuckas! We are entitled to weak moments before we gather ourselves up & straighten out our crowns but we still need those moments *cues Jill Scott Pause (Interlude)*. I’m so happy that Black Girls (and Black Woman too because I’m clearly a Black Woman reading YA) get to see that is okay to be vulnerable and not lose face in the process…they get to see that it’s okay to be a human through these stories, which is refreshing & healing. Suffice it to say that Alice is a straight up G y’all!
Speaking of G’s I love how much more present her mom and even her Nana K were in this book. It’s always amazing to have strong Black female/motherly figures depicted in literature because so many exist in the real world that don’t get the recognition they deserve. I lived for Nana K’s appearances in this book, though it’s not an ongoing role as Alice has shit to do but her presence & length of said appearance is perfection. We all need sage wisdom, no matter how it is delivered. On the real, Nana K’s wisdom is packaged in the right combination of seriousness & comedy that I think anyone would listen to and resonate with. If I she were my Nana, I’d want her around all the time just to hear about what shenanigans she got into back in the day or at the nursing home that week…you have to read to find out about what she allegedly did but no one has any proof of her involvement in said thing, LOL! If you have a granny like Nana K, could you share her with me? I promise to give her back, I’m not in the business of Grannynapping!
In ABSB, Alice’s mom was, Mrs. K, wasn’t super present though she loomed in Alice’s thoughts but in ADSD, she was actually more present. She felt like an anchor for Alice to her world, a reminder of who she was & what she is fighting to return to. Her mom is a no nonsense, “I said what I said” yet loving type of mom. She has a silent strength that I think Alice inherited. Mrs. K is also hilarious in her mannerisms and her threats, even EYE, as a grown ass woman, was like “Alice betta get her ass back home before her mama snatches her scalp clean and removes her soul from her body!”… Black mamas are just…like that, but there is a particular loving, caring & protective energy behind that aspect of them. I think L.L. captured that spirit beautifully. Mrs. K is a dope ass Black woman & mother, a literary homage to Black Mothers everywhere, in my honest opinion.
One of the biggest things I loved about this book is the colloquialisms used throughout this book. The expressions are unapologetically Black and it made my heart swell with gladness. I was super here for it all from the “the fuck…”s (a frequent term I use) to the usage of “petty” and “Don’t.Test.Me.” It all just spoke so deeply to my Spirit. I laughed so much because of the phrases used throughout the book and how they landed on the page…it all felt like shit I would say in those situations and are things I say on the regular! There is no doubt in my mind that Black kids will see themselves in this book.
Another thing that I appreciated was how this book, along with ABSB, tackles the topic of grief. How grief is different for everyone and how they process it. These books show that there is no set time period to experience grief, especially as this series takes place over a long (but not very long, if that makes sense) span of time. The Nightmare-Verse embraces and depicts the fact that the grieving process shouldn’t be rushed because the shit is traumatic depending on the event that has taken place, the person that was lost, etc. I hope that anyone who is in the process of grieving that reads these books know that they are seen and heard in what they are dealing with; that they should continue to take all the time that they need to process what they are experiencing. Shit, I’m still processing loses that happened years ago since they still feel fresh (therapy is helpful too, just to throw that in there). One step at a time my friends, one step at a time…and if anyone has a problem with that, then they need to step ASAPually.
If you haven’t read ABSB, you need to get on it so that you can read ADSD! It’s filled with so many shenanigans, new things that are discovered about the world of Wonderland and all that encompasses this series. Once you read ADSD, join me in the wait for Book 3, A Crown So Cursed…it’s going to be one helluva wait despite the fact that 2020 isn’t far but it is…know what I mean?! *Deep Sigh* I have a feeling that it will be worth the wait doe! Happy Reading Y’all!
I hope you will continue to rock with me in the social media universe by following me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic (I seriously cut up on there) and Facebook Bookish Girl Magic! It’ll be a pardee out in these innernet streets! *kool-aid smile* (The red kind, in case you were wondering, lol!)