A Blade So Black (The Nightmare- Verse #1)

Content Overview

Overall Content



Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking


Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty


Violence, Weapons, Blood, Crime


Potentially Intense Themes


**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

A Blade So Black (The Nightmare- Verse #1)

L.L. McKinney

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. 

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) This is an urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland. While there weren’t a lot of similarities, I liked that there was just enough of the story I was familiar with, but more that I wasn’t.

Alice is a teen who battles the nightmare creatures of Wonderland while dodging her mother, her rules and trying to maintain school and a social life.

At times it was comical having the mom involved, and other times it felt interfering. I would have preferred more introduction to the characters and a smoother start. It started off choppy but quickly picked up. 

“…white people…They’re a mess. They only believe, like, in three seasonings. And one of them is pumpkin spice… if anyone managed to kill the pumpkins, America would fall in a week. Panic in the streets.” I snort laughed while drinking my pumpkin steamer!  There were many funny moments intertwined with heartfelt, intense or action-filled ones. 

Some heartfelt moments belonged to the acknowledgment of “Brionne” who was killed by a policeman. It was definitely an ode to Breonna Taylor, much respect for that.

It was fun, I was entertained, but I’m not in a rush for book 2. 

Thank you to Macmillan Children’s for sending me a copy for review. Books two and three are available also!

Detailed Content Review


F***- 6

H***- 42

S***- 43

A**- 41


D***- 28

Bas****- 8

Religious Cursing



G**- 25

L***- 3

Derogatory terms etc-



Flipping off 

Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking

A woman gives a young woman alcohol. 

A young woman says she will break out the “hard stuff” for a celebration. 

Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty

*Minor LGBTQ+ aspects included*  

A young woman’s gaze at another and her assistance to her,  has others claiming how romantic it is. 

A young woman and man kiss. She wraps her arms around his neck and he scoots her into his lap. She groans. They continue to kiss with “fervor,” her grabbing his hair, him hissing in pleasure. 

A young woman kisses a young woman. People cheer. 

Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood

A dog attacks a young woman, snapping at her but not reaching her. A young man stabs the dog, it convulses as it dies. He wipes his sword of blood. 

A large nightmare charges at a young woman. She slashes a sword at it, yellow blood spills. 

Fighting a nightmare, a young woman slashes with a dagger, it claws her, swats her aside. Her arm is bleeding and burning. The beast grabs a tree as she stabs with her dagger, insides oozing over her hands as she pushes and waits for a snap of its core. She’s excited but it slashes and screams, it’s insides/pus spread over her. 

A young woman thinks back to when police shot a young black woman. No details except that she died. 

A man attacks a young woman with a sword. They fight back and forth with knife and dagger, he smacks her head and throws her into a tree. She cringes in pain. A gash on her hand oozes. 

A nightmare roars and attacks with talons. It hits her with its tail and she goes flying, it punctures her leg and it burns though her.  It hits her across the face, her teeth rattle, her ears ring. She digs her dagger into its flesh and pushes it deep. Blood oozes out of a stomach wound. 

Two young girls disappeared previously. Nightmares got them. Days later a body was recovered. 

Teens fight large wolves with the heads of cats. They use swords. A young woman is tackled, a creature leaps at a young woman and she slashes it with her dagger. It’s claws tear her thigh. She plunges her dagger between its ribs and twists. It’s claws tear her again and again.  Two other teens have a sword into another creature. 

Fiends are attacking, teens fight with swords. Two fiends circle a young woman. One bites a young woman’s leg. Another swings a sword that shoots painful light at them. A young woman is covered in sweat and blood. Blood leaks down her thigh. 

Three teens break into a building. Fiends find them and chase. There are quite a few tense moments while they run and escape out of windows. 

A man stabs an unconscious young man in the chest and he is taken captive. He is tied and has dried blood on him. 

A young woman kicks a man in the chest then a man tackles him. The two men fight with swords back and forth. A young woman gets involved with her sword and nightmares come, their claws scraping her skin. Another young woman jumps in. A young man is badly hurt and she removes him but he dies. 

A large beast erupts from the ground. It’s hands are the size of cars. It had the legs of a goat, torso of a man, huge black wings, snake-like tail, head of a dragon with horns. It chases a young woman. A man cuts its calves, claws rake a young woman, it backhands a man sending him through the air. A young woman stabs it in the back. She stabbed the creature, more stab it. Claws rake a man’s back, a young woman uses magic to shoot light/power into the beast. A young man drowns in a wave of sludge that erupts from the beast. 

A young man grabs a young woman’s throat and squeezes. 

Potentially Intense Themes

A young woman’s father has died of heart failure. She describes the grief regularly. 

Nightmares: they can reform after they’re hurt. They are made by a woman, many different animals make them up. Some have claws, are rhino-like, barbed tail, armored hide, bear size, and more.

Fiends: people who have been turned into nightmare-like creatures but are faster. 

A young man unexpectedly dies and his friends mourn him.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 


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