Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Review - Splintered by A. G. Howard


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.

As a huge fan of Lewis Carrol’s Alice stories as well as Tim Burton’s wonderfully dark and visually spectacular adaptation, I knew I had to read this! A. G. Howard conjures a Wonderland easily as mesmerising as Tim Burton’s in a dark retelling of the familiar tale that more than does justice to the original!

Alyssa Gardner is used to people making Wonderland jokes around her – everyone knows that she’s the great-great-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddel, the girl whose tales inspired Lewis Carroll to write the Alice books. But a name’s not the only thing she inherited: the family is cursed with hereditary madness, and it’s already claimed her mother. Alison lives in an asylum, claiming to hear bugs and flowers speak to her, and Alyssa knows it’s only a matter of time before she joins her mother, because she suffers from the same delusions. Or so she thinks.

But an inexplicable series of events leads her to question whether the curse is really insanity, and whether there is some truth to the tales of Wonderland. Soon, drawn by a mysterious voice, Alyssa has to take her own journey down the rabbit hole to break the curse. The problem is, she accidentally drags her childhood friend Jeb, on whom she has a secret crush, along with her.

They soon discover that the original Alice saw Wonderland through a child’s eyes, and the real thing is darker and more twisted than Alyssa remembers. She has to face killer flowers, outwit an octobenus (a walrus-octopus hybrid!), and meet the mysterious Morpheus, her lifelong dream-companion and friend of the original Alice. The writing is as beautiful and intricate as the gorgeous cover illustration, and Alyssa’s journey both echoes and twists the original in imaginative ways. The constant war between her desire to break the curse and her desire to give into her impulsive ‘dark’ side keeps the reader turning the pages to find out how it all plays out.

All in all, a fantastic debut! I strongly recommend this book to fans of Lewis Carroll’s wacky, mind-bending Alice books as well as anyone looking for a book that’s a bit surreal, inventive, and absolutely mad in the best possible way!

Rating: *****

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