ARC Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

‘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.”

Hardcover: 384 Pages

Series: Standalone

Publisher: ABRAMS

Imprint: Amulet Books

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Alyssa Gardner , our heroine, is the great-great-great-grandaughter of Alice Liddle, the little girl who inspired Lewis Carroll to write his masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. How wonderful of an idea is that? 

Her mother has been in an insane asylum for many years now, hearing the voices of plants and bugs and refusing to eat anything unless it is served to her in a tea-cup.

As normal as Alyssa is, a typical teenage girl who likes to skate and has a crush on the boy next door, she hears the same voices.  Afraid she will eventually end up in the same place her mother is, she tries to act as normal as she can. Until everything changes. Maybe she’s not as crazy as she thought.

When it comes to novels like this, I am the first one to stand up and yell rip-off.  However, that is not the case here.  Howard wrote a beautiful tribute to Carroll’s fantasy novel, using his work as a starting point but making the story and the characters very much her own.

Speaking of the characters, they are very well written and feel real. I love Alyssa and her, at times, self-deprecating humour. She’s strong, she’s fun, smart and as noble as Jeb proves to be.  Nevertheless, my favorite character has to be Morpheus. The author paints us a picture of him by comparing him with Brandon Lee in The Crow and he delivers on that comparison. He’s just as enticing, sexy and mysterious as I expected.

Down the rabbit hole again. Only this Wonderland is not what you might expect.  It’s darker, madder than the original Hatter, more dangerous and disturbing.

The author’s imagination brings to life some of the most terrifying creatures you might imagine living in Wonderland, in a dark fashion worthy of a Burton movie.

One of the main things that make this book great is Howard’s writing. It’s beautiful and poetic even, without being too flowery, polished and very descriptive.

I followed, hypnotized by her energy as rain pelted us and lightning torched the sky. I thought she was dancing and flung my arms in the air behind her. Then I tripped over my feet. White petals were bleeding on the ground. Daddy came running out of the house. I told him we needed Band-Aids for the daffodils. He gasped at the sight of me. I was too young to understand that flowers don’t bleed.”

She manages to explain what it means having a family member suffer from a mental disease, portraying it in a very real and believable manner.

The plot moves at a smooth pace and there are some twists you definitely won’t see coming.

Overall, Splintered tells a story every bit as magical as Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s a beautiful and compelling read, imaginative and last but not least, fun.

All these years I’ve been killing bugs and now karma’s here to make me pay, in spades.”

*I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged.
*This was an uncorrected proof. I will compare the quotes with the finished book.

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

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