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Monday, February 11, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publishing House: Amulet Books
ISBN: 9781419706271
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great gradmother Alice Lidell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

But Perhaps she's not mad. And perhaps Carroll's stories aren't as whimsical as they first seem.

To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world crush - Jeb - with her, but once her journey begins, she's torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland.

But no on in Wonderland is who they seem to be - not even Alyssa herself...

 (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


I've always loved Alice in Wonderland ever since I was a little girl. I've been fascinated by the story, and I have always wondered how Alice felt as she tumbled through that rabbit hole, entering a world so eerie and strange. I've always had this image of Wonderland in my head, a place that's equal parts awe-inducing and fear-inspiring; a world that's so disturbingly fascinating and mesmerizing. Splintered's Wonderland is exactly that, it's creepy and twisted and I loved every bit of it. 

I love books where the world-building is so vivid and real that I just want to take time out of my strangely busy schedule to sit down with a canvas and tubes of acrylic and paint. Furthermore I had to admire how the author managed to seamlessly weave the classic fairy tale with this darker, more twisted version so that Splintered seems more of an engrossing epilogue to the original story instead of just a retelling. I was torn between wanting to grab my sketchpad and pencil out a few fast drafts of the world I imagined, and continuing the book. 

The story is told in Alyssa's point of view. She's the descendant of the original Alice and like her mother and her grandmother before her, she thinks she's destined for the loony bin on account of the whole speaking-to-plants-and-bugs thing. But then Alyssa realizes that her family's curse actually has a cure and all she has to do is step through the looking glass and enter Wonderland to undo the mess Alice made. And it's not exactly easy when your best friend/crush is in tow and your guide is the mysterious Morpheus who seems to have his own agenda.

Alyssa is a likable heroine. She copes with the constant stress brought about by the chatter of insects by killing them and using them in her art. Her fear of ending up like her mother is palpable and real, but she's a fiercely independent and smart girl and it's not hard to like her.

Jeb, the love interest, is Alyssa's best friend whom she's been crushing on for a few years. While I do agree that they make a cute couple, there were a few things I couldn't understand. Why is it that Jeb, who supposedly harbors feelings for Alyssa, insists on dating Taelor - the girl who makes it her life's mission to torment Alyssa - and instead of defending his best friend from all the jabs Taelor flings at her, constantly pushes Alyssa to make nice with his girlfriend? But aside from that, Jeb's an overall okay guy. He has his issues, being a victim of child abuse, but I like that he doesn't use that as an excuse to be a jerk. He's actually pretty sweet and caring despite being a tad bit protective of Alyssa. Morpheus, I admit, is the most interesting of the lot, with his predilection for quirky headgear and the tricks he keeps up his sleeve. He is mischievous and charming and cunning but at the same time he's also a man wrapped in mystery, shrouded in secrets, who has a bigger stake in Alyssa's quest to cure her family's curse than he lets on.

If you're a fan of Alice in Wonderland and are fond of retellings of the beloved classic, Splintered is a book you don't want to miss. With Howard's masterful weaving of the classic fairy tale with this darker, more sinister Wonderland and her brilliant cast of re-imagined characters, you won't think twice about tumbling down this rabbit hole.



  1. I love these sort of fairy tale (Does Alice in Wonderland count as a fairy tale? haha) retellings. I really like how this is so much darker than most Alice in Wonderland retellings and the cover is gorgeous. Definitely going to check this one out, great review :D

    1. I suppose it does. XD I wasn't exactly expecting Splintered to turn out this good but it did. I fell in love with the world Howard created and I am a big fan of books with vivid imagery and fantastic world-building. Thank you so much for dropping by!