Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal (retelling)
“He’s a contradiction: taut magic coiled to strike, gentleness at war with severity, a tongue as sharp as a whip’s edge, yet skin so soft he could be swathed in clouds.”
― A.G. Howard, Splintered
Series: Splintered Trilogy
The Moth in the Mirror (#1.5 Splintered Trilogy)
Unhinged (# 2 Splintered Trilogy)
Ensnared (#3 Splintered Trilogy)
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
*Warning this review may be jumbled and not make sense. It may repeat and fangirl a little too much, but how can I not*
Not only did this book shock and surprise me, but I absolutely fell in love with the whimsical writing and dark and beautifully haunting story. Now it is not the same kind of love that I have for the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but since this book is more inspired by Carroll’s original story (and takes a whole new twist on a classic story we all thought we knew) more so than a retelling it gave me exactly what I needed and wanted from a book using the story and events from one of my all time favorite works!
For the most part I am just at a complete loss for words when it comes to this book and feel like I can’t write a review to do it justice. Now I will state I did have a few slight problems with this book, but I was able to overlook them because of the direction Howard took this well known classic story and made it gritty, dark, haunting, slightly twisted and completely turned the original story upside down. I found Howard’s writing and story telling to have some fantastic parallels to Carroll’s writing and although there were components taken/ mentioned from the original work she did it in such a way that it created a book that felt totally unique and original all on its own. I loved that you still got the whimsical and nonsensical feel in the writing and story, which was something that I greatly appreciated and enjoyed immensely. The language, sentence structures, the poems, pretty much nailed it. The prose was everything you would want an expect from a mad and crazy world such as Wonderland. I did find the beginning to be a tad slow and it took me a couple chapters to get into it (I think I was being so judgmental and just not going to let myself like it because I am such a huge fan and slightly obsessed with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) but I became completely hooked and devoured the book unable to put it down (and had to pick up the sequel right away).
I found myself falling in love with all the characters/creatures that Howard developed, imagined and created. I really enjoyed Alyssa! She definitely marches to the beat of her own drum and isn’t afraid to be different. She was also a strong female character and wanted to make her own decisions, which I appreciate. I love the complexity presented with her character and felt like there was great character development when it came to her internal struggles and finding out who she really is by the end of the book. Then there was the trend found so commonly in the YA genre that I have huge internal struggles and issues with, the dreaded love triangle. I did find that it did not play too big of a role in this story and could handle it. It seemed to add to the overall conflict of the story and for this book it worked. I was very fond of both male characters Jeb and Morpheus! They both have that same twisted pasts and views on life that mirror Alyssa and really work with the story. They both had great personalities and made it very hard for me to pick a team!
Overall this is an absolutely fantastic story that is dark, whimsical and maddening. It incorporates the jargon and nonsensical atmosphere found in Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It is imaginative and has descriptions so beautifully written that brings the pages and world to life! It definitely portrays the darker side of Wonderland and remind me at times of the 2010 Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland. I think anyone who loves and has an sort of obsession with Wonderland will highly enjoy this unique take. I also think it is a good way for someone who has never read the classic to get into and fall complete mad over the story and place of Wonderland!