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Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal/Fantasy Romance/Fractured Fairytale)
Date Published: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet

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 the first book in the Splintered Series by A.G. Howard. Wow! What an adventure! This story took nothing away from the original Alice in Wonderland. It takes what we know about Alice and adds to it through future generations of the characters. The world building was amazing. Wonderland and it's inhabitants are the same in many ways to the characters we know already, but they all are twisted in some way too.

The story flowed nicely. Something was always going on. There was a time in the middle somewhere that was a little draggy. It wasn't that things weren't happening so much that too much was happening with little benefit to Alyssa(and the reader). She was getting the runaround I guess, and I was ready to move on.

There is a love triangle. A love triangle with two guys who are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum and who are completely swoon worthy for totally different reasons.

On one hand you have Jeb. He's the best friend and boy next door. He's safe and protective of Alyssa. He had moments where he smolders on the page, and then he has moments where his temper and over protectiveness made me leery of him.

Then you have Morpheus. He's dark and deep. He always knows more than everyone else around him. He's witty and sarcastic. He seems to be in love with Alyssa. But is he really? I want to think so, but he has manipulation down to an art. I don't totally trust him yet. Where Jeb would smolder, there were moments when Morpheus would set the page on fire, and with less effort.

So, both of these guys have their strong points and their issues. Neither is perfect. That really fleshed them out within the story. At this point, I'm rooting more for Morpheus. I love his personality and broken allure.

Alyssa, was a pretty great character. I do wish she would have put Jeb in his place a few times. She has a strong family ethic. Heck, she's doing all of this for her family. I loved that about her.

Splintered had an amazing madness to it that made it hard to leave Wonderland even after I was through reading the book.

“Want it with all your heart.” The command swims in my head, so quiet it’s an echo from my past. “Then step inside.”

Trembling, I step forward and let both of my hands sink into the liquid glass up to my elbows. On the other side, a cool breeze meets my arms. Someone strokes me, from my elbow down to the wrist . . . fingertips so soft and knowing, they light a firestorm inside my veins.

It’s a touch I already know, yet so different now. No longer innocent and calming.

When I look into the portal, my gloved hands appear in the landscape beyond, casting shadows on the grass next to the guy’s winged silhouette.

Before I can see him clearly, he’s gone.

I hesitate and think of Jeb. It’s almost as if I hear his voice calling out for me from somewhere far away. I wish he was here, right now, stepping in with me.

But I can’t look back. As deranged as it seems, that guy in the mirror is the answer to everything in my past. This is my one chance to find Wonderland, to cleanse the Liddell bloodline of this curse, and to save Alison. If I can do this, I can finally be normal.

Maybe normal enough to tell Jeb the way I really feel about things.

Taking a breath, I plunge.

Check out my review of Unhinged!

A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

SPLINTERED & UNHINGED, books 1 & 2 of her urbanized /gothic Alice in Wonderland series, are now available from Amulet Books. Book 3, ENSNARED, launches 2015.

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To learn more about A.G. Howard and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

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