“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”
This is one of those rare books that I immediately went out and bought and that was not in my to-read pile for long! I discovered this novel when I was looking at my top ten 2013 debuts that I was looking forward to. Everything attracted me to it! The cover is of course beautiful and I am definitely a sucker for a good book cover. Alice in Wonderland has always been one of my favourite stories and I was very excited when the Tim Burton film came out. I’ve also always been attracted to retellings of fairy tales so this book definitely ticked all the boxes!
The premise for this novel is a brilliant one. Alyssa Gardner is descended from Alice Liddell, the little girl who first inspired Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland tale. Madness has been diagnosed in all of the women in her family who all get to a certain age before they start rambling about teacups and rabbits. Alice spends her life dreading her fate while visiting her mother in a mental institute every week. She is an immediately likeable character who every misfit will relate to. Her quirky fashion sense and alternative art make her the perfect teenage heroine and link her unknowingly to the creatures of Wonderland. Jeb is also a brilliant character and the love triangle was an excellent addition to the story. My favourite character in the novel however was Morpheus. The descriptions of him sound breathtaking and he is such a multi-layered character.
Wonderland itself is very Burton-esque and Howard mentions how she was inspired by Tim Burton in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. Every character from the Mad Hatter (Hattington) to the Cheshire Cat (Chessie) and the White Rabbit (Rabid) has had a dark makeover which leaves you wanting more. The landscape sounds brilliant and Wonderland is full of gothic magic. It’s all much better than I imagined when I first heard of this book and I’m now desperate for a sequel! (Please!). I’m not into spoilers on this blog but during the last few chapters I could not put this book down. It was full of surprises and twists and did not end in the way I was expecting.
I’ll leave it there before I give anything away! If you’re a fan of retellings, Tim Burton, Wonderland or any one of those three things I urge you to give this book a try. You’ll love it.
Have you read Splintered or is it on your to-read list?