SPLINTERED by A.G. Howard
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
RATING: 4 STARS
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.
SPLINTERED is not my normal YA fare, but it just goes to show that a gorgeous cover and a compelling blurb can turn a contemporary-loving reader into a fantasy one. I was intrigued by A.G. Howard’s fresh twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and within a few pages into this book, I was hooked.
A.G. Howard’s lyrical writing draws you in, and her fantastic descriptions on the dark and creepy creatures in her version of Wonderland are so vivid I often felt as if I could reach out and touch them. Alyssa is a strong and clever heroine, one that is easy to identify with, and Ms. Howard does an amazing job of seating the reader firmly in Alyssa’s head for the entire, white-knuckled journey.
Though I’m not a big fan of love triangles, and could’ve done without this one, the plot is fresh and exciting, with twists and turns and betrayals throughout, the voice is compelling, and the romance is emotional and well done. I will definitely be on the lookout for future books by A.G. Howard.