November 16, 2018

C.W. Snyder: "Queen of Nod" (ARC Review)

Title: Queen of Nod [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Balance (2nd of 3 books)
Author: C.W. Snyder [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Fantasy, Mythology
Year: 2018
Age: 14+ (it's marketed as NA, but since I don't have a NA section on my blog, I shelved it as YA. However, it's a complex and dark fable that will appeal to adults as well)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: As with Book 1, imaginative, multilayered tale weaving lots of literary and mythological references into a fresh story. Evocative prose.
Cons: The many (often disjointed) worlds and characters will set your head spinning, at least until a second read. Also, this one ends with a half-cliffhanger.
WARNING! Contains many elements of horror and gore.
Will appeal to: As with Book 1, both the young and the adult reader seeking a strong, dark-but-poetic example of revisited and enhanced tropes.

Blurb: Alice hoped to find peace after the death of the Red Queen. Instead, she faces a new foe: a plague of madness that threatens to bring Nod to its knees, shaking the foundations of the afterlife. Forced to flee from her home and abandon her throne, she is led on a journey that has the potential to remake or break her. From the forest world of the Fae to the expanse of the multiverse, Alice and Zee search desperately for a cure before it's too late. Along the way, they meet new companions and enemies - the powerful and deadly Magi, the changeling princess Maggie, and the Triad, a sinister trio of brothers who would stop at nothing to subjugate all they see. The fate of Nod hangs in the balance, and the key might just lie in the one place Alice has never dared to go - the depths of her own mind. (Goodreads)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this book from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. To be more precise, I specifically requested a review copy. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way. All the books I've received from CQ so far have come with no strings attached, and it's always a pleasure for me to work with them and discover more (sometimes underrated) gems.

MIND OVER MATTER

The first installment of this series was a self-enclosed story - so the possibilities for the sequel were endless. What the author decided to do was challenge Alice and her friends with a deadly plague (because you can actually die more than once...otherwise it would be too easy 😉) spread by a new enemy, though a character from Book 1 resurfaces and ultimately becomes an enemy too. We meet an older (well, virtually, because of course one can't age in the afterlife) and stronger Alice in this book - and I'm talking about inner strength here, since her powers have a unique source (and a non-replenishable one at that), and she has to reach inside her mind and draw on her intelligence and willpower in order to use them. And mind you, your average powers are good and all, but this is a really refreshing perspective. Then again, Alice's own mind harbours an enemy, along with an old ally. For a while, the book alternates between her quest for help and her pursuit of the bad guys, and her struggle to eradicate the thing in her brain, making for some interesting scenarios (both gruesome and funny, also thanks to the ally who's along for the ride in Alice's head). [...]

INSIGHT OUT

We get reacquainted with some old faces in this installment, but we also get to know new friends and (as I said) foes, plus foes-turned-friends. As with Book 1, most of them come from folklore and mythology, or are (very loosely) based on Alice in Wonderland's characters and/or inspired by other stories. This been said, none of them is a rip-off. This series would probably read much easier if they were, because what with the abundance of characters and scenarios, it's not uncommon to feel a bit disoriented. Then again, I suppose it would also be much cheaper. Speaking of characters, I feel like we're starting to get a better pulse on Alice in this sequel - maybe because part of the thing actually takes place in her head. There's even the tiniest hint that she might be bisexual, though I'm not sure if I'm reading too much into a small scene. Either way, both Alice and her two main allies are (more) well-rounded, and I loved their interactions - especially the one between Alice and Zee.

IT'S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE

Now for my qualms about this book: as with Child of Nod, where you needed multiple rereads (well, one at least), to set all your characters straight, here you need the same thing to sort out SOME of the characters (also because there are less POVs involved, and a few characters we're already acquainted with), but mainly to mentally map and connect all the places Alice visits. The blurb mentions a "multiverse", but it's not in the sense of "multiple versions of the same world" (that's why I didn't label this book as a multiverse one). Alice (both alone and in her friends' company) hops from world to world in her pursuit of the plague spreader, but she gets more action and more enemies that she bargained for. It's easy to lose track of what (and who) is behind the whole mess, and the juxtaposition of different worlds, if fascinating, adds to the disorientation. Also, while Book 1 was self-contained, this one ends with a half-cliffhanger. That's why I lowered my rating by half a star compared to Child of Nod - and here I read the thing twice. I honestly think Queen of Nod would have benefited from being a little more streamlined. Then again, if you aren't intimidated by its complexity, this is a series that will repay you in so many ways - especially if you like your fantasy dark with a touch of funny 😉.

For my "Child of Nod" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my interview with C.W. Snyder click here.
For more Afterlife books click here.

10 comments:

  1. This sounds interesting. I mean people dying of the plague and then being able to die again. The world sounds unique too. I will have to look into this one. I am trying to write the next TMST questions for January and February today. Hope to get them to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is indeed unique - not your usual Alice in Wonderland retelling.

      LOL, I'm always bothering you with those questions. Thank you for your patience!

      Delete
  2. I never heard of this series, but it does sound like an interesting twist on Alice in Wonderland. I have only really read one Alice retelling - the Splintered series, but this sounds way more complex with multiple worlds and multiple deaths. Honestly, I read the review, because that cover is amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a small pub series, so I'm not surprised that you never heard of it before. And it's more like a homage to Alice's story than a retelling, with lots of dark twists.

      LOL, the power of a cover.

      Delete
  3. I've had the first book on my Kindle for sooooo long lol I hope to read it soon. Soon-ish. Ever.

    hahaha you know how that goes with my epic TBR pile.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well...it's a step in the right direction LOL.

      Delete
  4. Oof. Many characters in scenarios... I'm not sure I'm interested in going for this because I'll be confused or overwhelmed for sure. Or maybe I won't, who knows. BUT BUT this does sound interesting and I like interesting, so MAYBE???

    ALSO GOOD MORNING ROBERTA I HOPE THIS COMMENT COMES TO YOU SAFELY. 😂😂😂

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I'm not sure this series would be your cup of tea right now, but maybe in the future...it IS fantasy, only not the kind of fantasy I see around these days (and in your TBR list/reviews). It's kind of brutal at times, and it's kind of an acquired taste when you're not used to it.

      LOL, your comment was indeed the first thing I read this morning...since I only went and checked my emails first, and there were none 😭 😂. And I SO can use a good morning wish because I'm sick 😥. So thank you!

      Delete
  5. The mythology/folklore elements sound cool! And such a pretty cover! But sounds like maybe not a good book to read if you're distracted or having trouble concentrating, which I usually am nowadays lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it does require some attention, or maybe just a second read. It's a unique series though, also because it's not a real retelling, but something much more complex.

      Delete

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