Review of Untamed by A.G. Howard

UntamedUntamed
By: A.G. Howard
Release Date: December 15th 2015
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:
A post-Ensnared collection of three stories—available in both print and e-versions.

Alyssa Gardner went down the rabbit hole and took control of her destiny. She survived the battle for Wonderland and the battle for her heart. In this collection of three novellas, join Alyssa and her family as they look back at their memories of Wonderland.

In Six Impossible Things, Alyssa recalls the most precious moments of her life after Ensnared, and the role magic plays in preserving the happiness of those she loves. Alyssa’s mother reminisces about her own time in Wonderland and rescuing the man who would become her husband in The Boy in the Web. And Morpheus delves into Jeb’s memories of the events of Splintered in The Moth in the Mirror, available in print for the first time.

This collection expands upon Ensnared‘s epilogue, and includes some deleted scenes to provide a “director’s cut” glimpse into the past and futures of our favorite Splintered characters.

My Thoughts:
I was really excited that they took all the novellas and published them in hardcover. I hadn’t read any of these prior to receiving the book so it was all fresh and new for me. I immediately dove in and was transported right back into Alyssa, Jeb and Morpheus’ world.

I think this compilation was a wonderful way to get that last Wonderland fix and gave me insight into each of the characters as well as what happened after Ensnared. I wouldn’t say I had a favorite of the three because each really touched on aspects I loved. As always Howard’s writing was descriptive and immersive. I found each story to be a quick read.

The first story follows after Ensnared and gave us some insight after the story ended. I was always less inclined towards Jeb so some of this was a tad slower just because I was like…where’s Morph! Although, it really did make my heart warm and I did find myself rooting for Jeb and Alyssa so there’s that. Which, says a lot since in the first book I pretty well hated Jeb. Somehow Howard has warmed me up to him. I’m impressed.

I had always wanted to read more about Alyssa’s parents because their backstory seemed so interesting and here was my chance! I loved venturing into their past and really getting a feel for what Alyssa’s mother had been through as well as her dad. Wow, that poor man really took on a lot. I loved seeing where Alyssa gets her strength and it does really shine light on her mother’s actions in previous books. Also, we get to see a bit of Morph we’d not seen before.

The last story was maybe my favorite? As I said, I never really loved Jeb but seeing his point of view with Morpheus somehow grabbed me. I think some people might have had reservations on how Ensnared ended and this really delved into that (the first and third story both do).

I don’t want to give too much away because the joy of these stories (beyond the gorgeous cover) was falling back into these characters and their story. It felt like a tribute to the characters and fans and was a pleasure to read. Any fan of the series must add this to their collection.

If you’ve not read these prior books I suggest reading them FIRST. You’ll spoil yourself if you pick this one up first.

Extras

Review of Ensnared by A.G. Howard

Ensnared (Splintered, #3)Ensnared (Splintered #3)
By: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 6th 2015
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world–a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?

My Thoughts:
The difficulty of writing a review for the last of a series…it’s always such a challenge to write a spoiler free review that adequately explains how I’ve felt reading the ending of a series I enjoyed so thoroughly. I had a good amount of expectations going into Ensnared, the first two books were a blast to read with their exquisite details, vivid landscapes and a romance (or two) to swoon over.

This last installment went a tad darker than the previous two but kept me riveted. I’ll admit, after finishing I sat staring at the back of the book trying to fully digest my feelings. With any series finale there will be some that will not approve of the ending. I love that as readers we get so invested in the characters and story we are completely immersed in our personal desires and hopes for the story. I feel that this novel was ended the way that Howard had always intended.

It’ll come as no surprise that Alyssa was pulled in multiple directions not only between her human and Wonderland side but also her feelings between the two men that encapsulate these aspects of her being. I’ve been a full on Team Morph fan from the start and so I revel in every interaction between Alyssa and Morpheus. This book provided me with many heartwarming and wonderful scenes. Some of Morpheus’ dialog was to die for. There was a particular line I had to read multiple times because it was so perfect.

From the start I’ve had a tough time ever liking Jeb. I was shocked to find I was actually able to like him in this book. We see a darker, deeper side to him that I adored. His artistic abilities were forefront again and I absolutely loved where Howard took his part of the story; I felt it was expertly done and so incredibly imaginative. And, yes, I hate to admit it, but I was actually able to ship Alyssa and Jeb for the first time ever. A tip of the hat to Anita for being able to turn me around in the last book of a series. I thought it was impossible to get me to enjoy Jeb.

Of course, Alyssa has a lot of soul searching and discovery to find out about herself and her motivations. Her journey was not an easy one and the final showdown between her and her advisory, Queen Red, was intense and very dark. I adored all of Howard’s lush descriptions and her unending imagination. I had thought that Wonderland was a creepy place but Howard went even further in the looking-glass world. Her description of the denizens of this alternate reality caused revulsion yet the inability to stop reading about the horrifying and twisted inhabitants.

I really don’t want to give away any details about the storyline because anyone that has read the first books of the series has to read this conclusion and those that haven’t started the series should.

Final Thoughts:
I felt that Ensnared was gripping and horrifying though Howard was able to relieve the reader from the gruesome with swoon-worthy moments that will appease fans of both Jeb and Morpheus. I felt that the characters and story have been on this path since the start and it was a pleasure to read the conclusion that the author has had planned for her world and creations. I am thrilled to know that Howard has teased about writing another novella and possibly a spin off? We can only hope and dream that these become a reality because I will miss her unique and mesmerizing take on Wonderland.

Extras:
Review of Splintered
Review of Unhinged
Interview with A.G. Howard
Interview with Nathalia Suellen (cover artist)
Lego Cover of Unhinged