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

Splintered by A.G. Howard Review

SplinteredSplintered
By: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books

My rating:
star

Summary (via book flap):
Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delulsions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

But perhaps she’s not mad. And perhaps Carroll’s stories aren’t as whimsical as they first seem.

To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world-crush- the protective Jeb–with her, but once her journey begins, she’s torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland.

But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be–not even Alyssa herself…

The Story:
You can tell A.G. Howard did her research on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (also see she loves the classic). Her portrayal of Wonderland is gruesome yet captivating. She pulls enough from the original to create a stunning Wonderland that has some of the feel of the original (but darker). The best part of Wonderland are its characters and puzzles, Howard is able to keep those aspects while adding such macabre twists it veers on disturbing. Its twisted like a Tim Burton movie yet has some of the 80’s feel of Labyrinth (1986 movie starring Davie Bowie…if you’ve not seen it you must).Its a strong story with lots to keep you interested in where its going. Another great part of the story to me was I wasn’t sure where Howard was going to take us or how she was going to get there.

The Characters:
Character interactions are done so well they feel real at times, and almost feels like you are eavesdropping on a private conversation. Dialog flows seamlessly for the most part and each character has an ‘unique’ voice. Unfortunately, sometimes Alyssa’s best friend (and love interest), Jeb, doesn’t seem like a friend I’d want. I wish he would stand up for her more and not meddle in some of her life decisions. But I won’t reveal more as not to spoil the story. Regardless, he does seem real with his flaws. You get a sense he acts first and thinks later. I think Morpheus is my favorite character just because I constantly want to know more about him and look forward to the segments he’s in. I would love to read an entire story based on him in Wonderland.  As for our main character, Alyssa I immediately was pulled to her through her odd life view to her even odder hobby,

I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.

Blue Dasher Dragonfly macroI have an interest towards insects myself…I don’t pin them but I do photograph them. A little show and tell moment: here’s one of the pictures I took of a blue dasher dragonfly (feels very Splintered to me) in my backyard. Since I spent hours up close and personal with our bug friends I could really imagine how it would feel to hear them speak. This was one of my favorite aspects of the book and Alyssa.

Final Thoughts:
Splintered gave me what I wanted, a re-working or addition to the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  Howard mastered creating a unique, fun yet gruesome Wonderland. The story moves at a great pace and the characters are mostly like-able (Jeb you could have been better). Sometimes the dialog was a tad repetitive (certain words were repeated often enough I noticed). The story was left open enough for a sequel and I would love to read some additional stories with Morpheus center-stage.

Will there be any additonal books?

Want to know more about how A.G. Howard came up with her Wonderland? Check out her blog…lots of info there.

If you live in Texas don’t miss meeting A.G. Howard at one of her signings! Click here for dates and locations.

Splintered book trailer:

To buy this book:
Amazon
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