Author: A G Howard
Genre: YA fantasy/retelling
Length: 400 pages
Published by: Thames and Hudson
Source: received in exchange for review (thanks, Thames and Hudson!!!)
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.
First: I loved this even more than Splintered. That was surprising, because it’s not set in Wonderland like the first book. But for some reason I enjoyed it a lot more! There were creepier things, and fantastic descriptions, and MORPHEUS. Cait, if you’re out there, you should know that I completely agree with you now. I need a Morpheus in my life. His character is so well-written and creepy and amazing.
I even kind of liked Jeb. In the first book he wasn’t useful for much, but you can tell he really loves Alyssa. And it helped for me not to think of him as just a love interest, but as a symbol of the human world compared to Wonderland.
There could have been less of a focus on the romance. And I would have liked it more if it’d been set in Wonderland. And some of it was a bit slow. But that is blown out of the water by the complexity of the world, and the story, and (for the most part) layered, rich characters (except Jeb). A G Howard has created a universe that parallels the imagination of Lewis Carroll – and that compliment does not come easily from me, because I LOVE Alice in Wonderland.
I had a creepy smile on my face the whole time. There were creepy dolls, and morbid artwork, and a macabre dress, and a glimpse into the Looking Glass World (which will be focused on in Ensnared, the third book). By the way, I’m so pumped for that third book. Even if Jeb’s going to be on the cover…
But yeah. I loved the creepy.
It’s just a nice change from contemporary, you know? At the moment I’m switching between contemporary and another genre within YA (or MG) so I don’t get too tired of one genre.
Also – Mum and Dad are a big influence here! Hallelujah for a speculative fiction book without absent parents. I loved the relationship between Alyssa and her mum, as well as Alyssa and her dad. They were all very protective of each other.
Things that stuck out as awesome:
– Jeb’s paintings
– The train
– The looking-glass world, where things go in and come out disfigured
– A beautiful dress
– THE MOTH
– Little things from the original, like the mushrooms to make you big or small
And that’s all I’ll say. But you should read it for yourself. Some of you may not like it. Some of you will love it. I’m just waiting for Cait to burst in and exclaim about Morpheus in caps, because that seems to be what she devotes half her life to 🙂
Rating: 5/5 Wonderkitties