Author: A G Howard
Genre: YA dark fantasy (retelling)
Length: 371 pages
Published by: Thames and Hudson
Source: received for review from Thames and Hudson (thank you!!!)
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.
I mean, even from the synopsis you know this is going to be awesome. I was SO excited to read this, and I think for that reason I was perhaps a tiny bit disappointed. I loved it, but I also wanted to love it more. If that makes sense.
My favourite parts of Splintered were the ones that were faithful to the original story but twisted in some way.
Like falling through the rabbit hole. This is a personal preference, but I would have liked to see more of the original elements – it seemed like there wasn’t enough of that. I loved the author’s twists on these, when they appeared.
Other things I loved:
1) The ocean of tears
2) The tea party
4) The madness of Wonderland
5) The sheer imagination of the world, which was incredible
Actually I’ll expand on that point a bit, because I feel like it’s worth mentioning how imaginative and innovative A G Howard’s Wonderland is. It’s darker, and twisted, and fantastic. The descriptions of characters we know and love changed them forever, and it was easy to see how the original story could fit into this “darker, funkier” tribute. There’s definitely that undertone of weirdness in Alice in Wonderland – I think Lewis Carroll’s writing in general lends itself to creepiness. It wasn’t all flowers and butterflies, that’s for sure..
(note: I actually love the cartoon Alice in Wonderland. I’m not bashing it)
I think if you’re writing a retelling, it has to be different to the original in a way that doesn’t diminish how amazing the original is. Because Alice in Wonderland is pretty spectacular. I want to write my own version, actually, but that probably won’t happen for a while. If it does happen, I’m totally having a Blood Orange Queen instead of a Red Queen.
Oh and also, let’s talk about the cover! Yes, this cover is amazing! I just love LOOKING at it.
Alyssa. Alyssa is a great protagonist. She’s quirky and artistic and Wonderland brings out the weirder side of her, which I love. She’s definitely VERY different from this Alice:
Jeb: Jeb was kind of boring. He didn’t have much of a personality.
Morpheus: Hells yes to the moth dude! He was manipulative and technically a villain, but I loved him. He kind of reminded me of David Bowie from Labyrinth.
I didn’t really see the point of the love triangle, though. It didn’t add anything for me (but I wouldn’t take my word for it, since other people say it’s one of the best love triangles they’ve ever read. I’m just a really cynical person).
I also didn’t really like the middle of the book. The pace dropped off a bit and it got kind of slow.
But overall, I loved it. I’m sure this will be one of those books that I love even more with a re-read, but this time I’m giving it four stars.