Splintered - A. G. Howard
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.
This was such a bizarre little book. A. G. Howard definitely succeeded in creating a wholly original and creative re-working of the Alice in Wonderland tale. It is dark, grotesque, creates a sense of unease but so completely compelling and beautiful that I couldn't dislike it. Splintered follows the path of Alyssa, a descendent of the real Alice, as she attempts to combat Wonderland and to her free her mother from her own personal hell in the asylum. With brilliant prose, Howard takes the reader on an exciting and enthralling journey of love, loss and insanity as we delve deeper into Wonderland. This book leaves you feeling deeply unsettled but incredibly satisfied; I'm really looking forward to Unhinged.
Alyssa was a well-developed and incredibly likeable character. It was great that she wasn't a full blown 'goody' and that she had a darker side to herself. She is a character that you cannot help but sympathise with and to just hope that everything turns out fine for her in the end. Her flaws make her such a very real character and it's great to watch her development through the novel. I loved her dryness, her truly heartfelt emotions and her strong will to help her mother in any way that she can, regardless of her own safety. Although this novel contains a kind of love triangle, it isn't painful to read and it probably isn't even enough to call it a love triangle.
The relationships developed were complex and entirely believable. Morpheus is a character that I cannot like, and I feel like I'm the only one saying this! His character is beautifully developed and his relationship with Alice definitely makes for an interesting read. However, I really do not like him. Nope. No way. Saying this, I am definitely looking forward to seeing how things develop between all of the characters in the next book. They were captivating and incredibly life-like, the images of them in my head are so clear and that is something I absolutely love about a good book.
I loved the use of Lewis Carroll's own Alice in Wonderland in the novel too. I loved how different lines now hold different meanings, and I definitely feel that A. G. Howard excelled in her creation of this entirely bizarre world. I loved the way she wrote her prose when in Wonderland and I absolutely loved the Tea Party scene again! The aura of madness and insanity was brilliant, I really cannot wait to read the next book.
Classics Retold 2/6