by A. G. Howard
Excellent – Loved it! Buy it now & put this author on your watch list.
Kissing, discussion of sex.
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.
Vivid and evocative, the colors and artistry of SPLINTERED bleed from between the pages. This modern visit to Alice’s Wonderland has a cinematic quality, with everything from Alyssa’s outfits to Morpheus’s magical wings splashed across the mind’s eye.
Above and beyond the aesthetic, the mechanics of this reimagined Wonderland works for me, too. The creatures and Queens are still alien and savage, but the author offers hints of humanity as well. I enjoyed each step of the journey where Alyssa retraces Alice’s steps. In fact, my one complaint bringing this story from 5 bats to 4 was that the human portion of Alyssa’s plot was a bit over engineered. From her relationship with Jeb, balanced perfectly on the edge of true friendship and unrequited love, to the “bad girl” Taelor, who manages to represent every negative aspect of Alyssa’s human life in one neat, easily defeated package, the human part of SPLINTERED was too neatly and explicitly explained.
But as flat as Alyssa’s human life fell, the imagery of Wonderland is not easily forgotten. Morpheus has all the sexy devilry of Bowie in Labyrinth, and it’s his whispers and wings I’ll remember going forward. A richly painted world, SPLINTERED is the sexy, dangerous Wonderland I’ve been waiting for.
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