WELCOME TO THE REAL WONDERLAND
I've got to be honest. I've never been a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. It's a cool story, and I know the gist: Girl goes down rabbit hole, meets tons of crazy creatures, has an adventure. But besides seeing both the animated and 2010 movie adaptations, I haven't read the book. *ducks*
However, I've always loved Tim Burton J.
And Splintered by A.G. Howard features not Wonderland but "Underland." It's a Tim Burton-esque take on the children's story that had me enthralled from start to finish.
Alyssa Garder is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the original Alice. Madness runs in her blood. She hears the voices of insects and plants but does her best to shut them up by making artistic (yet morbid) bug mosaics. She doesn't want to end up in an insane asylum like her mother. But when Alyssa discovers that Wonderland is in fact a real place and that going there is the only way to save her mother, Alyssa follows in Alice's footsteps--and goes down the rabbit hole.
But Alyssa isn't alone. She's followed by her long-time best friend Jebediah Holt. Besides being easy on the eyes and having a surprisingly tempting labret (one of those just-under-the-lip piercings. Who knew those had a name, right?), Jeb is unfailingly loyal and protective of Alyssa, determined to get her home safe.
Alyssa's mysterious guide, Morpheus (aka the caterpillar who is actually not a caterpillar but a really hot hybrid of moth man/dark angel), has other plans. With his mercurial moods, it's unclear whose side Morpheus is really on. But Alyssa will need all the help she can get to make it out of Underland alive.
What I loved about this book was: the unexpected Burton-esque imagery, the mystery, the brave-yet-believable heroine, and of course, the romance.
From the start, you know this isn't going to be a sweet children's tale. The "white rabbit" that Jeb and Alyssa encounter on their first meeting in Underland is actually no rabbit at all. He's a skeletal figure known as "Rabid" with red eyes and antlers growing out of his head. *Shivers*
I loved the Twid sisters. Here we really see Burton's influence and Howard's masterful vision. The twins (one good, one evil) are in charge of guarding Wonderland's souls. The scene was so rich I could see every detail. Sister One with her spider web of roses, Sister Two with her dead weeping willows hung with long-forgotten children's toys. Amazing.
The romance was so well done. Jeb was swoonworthy, and Morpheus--though nefarious--was just as viable an option for Alyssa. I really enjoyed the ending and how it all played out. The mystery was resolved (no cliffhangers, YAY!!). My first DAC 2013 read, and it was awesome! I'd definitely recommend Splintered to anyone who's a fan of edgy fantasy with risks and romance.