Book Spotlight: SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard

I am so excited for this book, you guys! A. G. Howard has been one of my dearest writer friends ever since I met her in the blogosphere the first time I started blogging, which was in April 2011. Almost 2 years ago! Imagine that! Before Splintered came out, heck, before Amulet bought it, I was already sure that Ms. Howard was going to blow our minds away with her literary prowess. And I’m glad to have been proven right!

Blurb and image from Goodreads:

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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.

About the Author:

A.G. Howard is most at home when weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.
A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.
You can find her online at her website, blog, and on Twitter (@aghowardwrites).

The Book: YA Fantasy

Splintered is a wonderfully macabre reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s version of Wonderland. While the world of Wonderland is taken on a new spin with darker settings and Tim Burton-esque creatures, I feel like the original sense of charm and adventure that is inherent in Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is still very much present in this book.

Alyssa Gardner’s biggest fear is to end up like her mother: a resident of Soul’s Asylum with talking bugs and flowers for company. But all too soon, Alyssa finds herself hearing the bugs and flowers talk. The curse of madness that has plagued the women in her family for generations is inescapable—unless she goes down the rabbit hole to right the wrongs her great-great-grandmother Alice Lidell, the original Alice, had caused in Wonderland. While Alyssa’s personal motivation is to keep herself from going insane, she’s also determined to save her mother from a life of straitjackets and electroshock treatments. There is also history between mother and daughter that has shaped their present-day relationship into something unnatural and guarded. For one thing, Alyssa refers to her mother by her name, instead of calling her “mom”. But despite their fractured relationship, Alyssa’s love for her mother drives her to find a way to get to Wonderland and sort out the curse once and for all. I feel like this is the core and heart of the story—that just as much as Alyssa needed to correct Alice’s mistakes, she also needed to fix her connection to her mother.

We also have two swoon-worthy love interests: Jeb, the longtime best friend; and Morpheus, a denizen of Wonderland who was a part of Alyssa’s childhood. While Jeb insists on being Alyssa’s protective knight, Morpheus endeavors to bring Alyssa to her full potential, even to the point of madness. I thought both characters were good foils for each other, and their reactions to Alyssa were, for the most part, entertaining. 

Wonderland is not what we’ve thought it to be. Ms. Howard’s vivid imagination and sensorial prose has brought to life a truly cinematic vision of a world that’s filled with strangeness, madness, and beauty, offering us a peek into the darker side of ourselves.

Splintered has a little something for everyone: romance, adventure, mystery, and plot twists to keep you up on your toes.

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