Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.
I loved Splintered, A. G. Howard’s dark and twisted retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and I was even more thrilled to win a signed copy of the sequel, Unhinged, in a giveaway! The madness continues as Alyssa, one year after her adventures in the warped and crazy world of the netherlings, is drawn back into a battle against the vengeful Red Queen. Unlike the first book, much of Unhinged takes place in the here and now – but with hints of the weirdness creeping through into reality.
This includes the seductive and mysterious Morpheus, who wants Alyssa to return to Wonderland and embrace her darker side –and refuses to take no for an answer. Meanwhile, Jeb, Alyssa’s boyfriend of almost a year, represents her human side and the future she wants in the ordinary world. The plot was unpredictable and gripping, with unexpected revelations I never saw coming. We learn more about Alyssa’s family and their time spent in Wonderland, and all the characters get more development, especially Morpheus. He’s not a ‘bad guy’, but his motives are murky at best. But he’s just a brilliant character, eccentric and dangerous and yet devoted to Alyssa. Alyssa’s inner struggle takes centre stage, making this a love triangle that stands out, because the two guys represent two equal sides of herself and it’s difficult to say which will win out!
Mostly, I loved the original twists on elements from the original Alice stories and the dark and creepy touches – a sinister toy clown, the looking-glass insects, AnyElsewhere – need I go on? The writing’s vivid and the imagery is unique – I just love the writing style. Meanwhile, the narrative keeps up a fast pace which had me glued to the pages. It’d be hard for me to pick whether I prefer the first book or Unhinged, but with that ending, I have a feeling that the finale in Ensnared might be even better than both!