This book falls under the Older Release category and has been on my radar since 2013 when it first came out. Why? The gorgeous cover art! It’s first in a series by an author who seems to be extraordinarily blessed by the Cover Art Fairies. I’ll show you another one at the end of this review.
This author’s writing style is even more mesmerizing than the cover art she’s been blessed with. The words and flow, it just keeps you locked in. But…writing style isn’t enough. There’s got to be multi-dimensional characters and a fully realized story too. Right?
Alyssa struggles for normalcy and not because she’s magical or anything like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She struggles with some of the stuff a lot of teens do. Her mother is mentally ill and she’s been raised by her father since she was a little kid because of it. Typical of teenagerhood, most everything irritates her and she’s sure everybody’s judging her.
Like many teens in the same boat, Alyssa fears she’s taking after her mother, falling into the same mental illness.
And that’s where it crosses the line into magical.
Because Alyssa’s mom isn’t simply mentally ill.
Turns out, she’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
I’ve heard it said that Lewis Carroll was whacked out on drugs when he wrote those stories, kinda like some rock stars from the 1970s.
In this fictional universe, Carroll wrote his stories based on real events regarding a real girl named Alice.
Alyssa has a genuine reason to be concerned about following in her mother’s footsteps because she’s merely the latest ‘Alice’ to fall from her family tree and straight down the rabbit hole.
No amount of dread locks and what I think is Goth make-up can save her.
Or her mother.
At first, Alyssa desperately just does not want to turn out like Mom, but then she crosses over into wanting to Save Mom too. This tells me she’s a character who grows. This is why I read, and write, Young Adult Fiction even though I haven’t been one in decades. I have a harder time finding that in Adult Fiction because, I guess, grown-up prefer to believe they already know everything.
So in her ‘normal’ everyday life, Alyssa’s a skater chick with a dude friend she’s had for years, that she’s kinda, you know, in love with, but sure he’s hung up on another chick. But, actually, it’s not tough to realize Jeb loves her too. She has a job at a vintage clothing store, which I think is super cool. Because I love vintage everything. School’s boring, but she’s great at art and has a fascination with bugs that she doesn’t really want to become well-known.
Alyssa can hear bugs talk, and also daisies. She starts to really worry about her sanity as this phenomena picks up.
Mom’s so crazy about them she gives daisies proper burials when they die and sews patches of them onto the living room furniture. More on that later.
The time comes to visit Mom at the asylum with her dad. Alyssa really does not want to go, plus she sprained her ankle skating.
At first Mom is reasonably even-keeled, but things go from crazy to worse fairly quickly. At one point Alyssa manages to get herself alone with Alison, her mother, and it’s during this she crosses over to accepting her fate.
Things get violent though. Mom is sedated and Dad agrees to shock therapy, much to Alyssa’s horror. He’s a desperate man, exhausted from a decade of worry for his love one. I’ve seen that in real life. Poor guy.
Alyssa knows what she needs to do, especially after she finds clues under the daisies Alison sewed onto their living room furniture.
This is all a vivid, suspenseful descent into madness. You know how I love suspense! This is where Ms. Howard’s mesmerizing writing style really hits its stride.
Alyssa finds the portal leading to Wonderland and wishes with all her might to visit the place in England where she thinks the rabbit hole is. She winds up there, all right, but is baffled when Jeb lands there too. She didn’t realize how terribly she’d been wishing that Jeb was with her. Together with him, they battle carnivorous plant-life and slash giant hands trying to move them like chess pieces.
Jeb is mistaken for an elf knight, because of the jewel piercing in his lower lip. Hey, you know how I feel about elves.
Meanwhile, Alyssa is remembering visits to Wonderland she made as a kid and is sure she must find the Caterpillar because he is the Wise One.
Also, there was this winged kid she use to hang out with in Wonderland. Yikes, he’s here too. And suddenly it’s all really coming together in her head. Just how to use all that to find all the clues and fix all the mistakes her mom made last time she was there, Alyssa does not know. But, she’s determined to win the day and Jeb vows to help her along the way.
Wonderful story! I think I’ve just found a new favorite author. That’s always a wonderful thing. Check out this cover art for another volume in this fictional universe. I swear, it’s the most beautiful cover art I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life!
Pop over to the author’s website to find out about all her really cool stories. It’s thrilling to know she’s got a lot more where Splintered came from. A.G. Howard’s Site
Now reading STOLEN PRINCESS by Nikki Jefford
Stay Cool & Be Kind.