Author: A. G. Howard
Review: Unhinged is the second instalment in A G Howard’s splintered series and I couldn’t wait to get into it after enjoying the first book so much. I will also try to keep as many spoilers out as I can for those that haven’t read the first book yet. The story picks up six months after the events of the first book ended. Alyssa is trying to understand and comprehend what happened in Wonderland and how to return Jeb’s memories of their time there with little success. As her relationship with Jeb progresses with them heading to London in a week she feels like she is lying to him but hiding her powers from him. Alyssa is still caught in the love triangle as Jeb fills her days and Morpheus her nights. This love triangle becomes a little bit more interesting as Jeb isn’t even aware Morpheus exists. The beginning of the books is very fast-paced and action packed to rekindle the events of the first book. Alyssa within the first 30 pages ends up back in the one place she doesn’t want to be; Wonderland via a mysterious and deadly flood. I also enjoyed reading about Alyssa’s normal teenage problems like prom, boys and adult relations.
Morpheus is far darker in this book than in the previous one going as far as to almost kill Alyssa to get her to accept her darker side and help Wonderland once more which she refuses to do as she made the choice to be human as Morpheus seeks to unleash madness in the human realm. Alyssa’s mother was also released from the asylum and returned home. It turns out to be here to wake Alyssa from her coma but it was Jeb her gave her the power to live. So very early on in this book we learn the Red Queen is wreaking havoc on Wonderland and Morpheus with his own agenda is planning to extend that madness into the human realm and the only person that stands between them and total chaos is Alyssa. A. G. Howard once again amazingly blurs the line between reality and delusion, but include moments of clarity like when Alyssa realises what she thought was a unconscious induced dream turns out to be real and Morpheus is in her world and everyone she loves is in danger unless she finds him and reclaims the throne of Wonderland – the only thing is refuses to do, she refuses to give her life and the ones she loves in the human realm.
Alyssa is trying and failing to balance her “real” life and her wonderland life with Morpheus pressing her to be the Queen she is supposed to be, her mother’s overbearing protection and Ivy’s offer to be Jeb’s muse for a sexier series of painting. She feels as if everything is closing in on her at once and she is struggling to keep her head above water and her façade is constantly slipping which we didn’t see from her in the first novel unless she or someone she cared about was in imminent danger. We learn that Red has made her way to the human realm and is disrupting the natural order turning bugs and plants against on another when they have always been on the same side. Red has also managed to steal 3 of Alyssa mosaics which are printed visions the both have to decipher in order to find the weakness to destroy the other. But another twist is Alyssa’s mother has the other 3, so I have a feeling she may also be dragged into this war especially if she recognises Morpheus even with his disguise as Alyssa does.
As Alison slowly reveals the truth of her time in Wonderland and her intentions to Alyssa their relationship takes a serious nosedive and she realises her mother is the most deceitful person in her life and has been the cause of almost all of her heartache and pain and Morpheus has been there to clean up the mess her mother made, as it’s what netherlings do best. Morpheus also leaves with a promise that Alyssa has to find him now he will not come willingly to her aid. All the while Alyssa is fighting the two halves of herself again – one half drawn to Wonderland and Morpheus, the other drawn to the world she knows and Jeb. Amid all this there seems to be a strong romantic attachment forming between Morpheus and Alyssa despite their turbulent relationship with an oblivious Jeb caught in the crosshairs. As Wonderland begins to seep into the human realm and the scales of normality are tipped back and forth Alyssa realises she needs to find the netherlings in the human realm and send them back and only then can she restore the balance of both worlds.
As Alyssa’s situation becomes critical with a fire she caused almost burning down the school gym she realises she has no choice but to go to Wonderland and face Red head on as she and those she loves are in danger no matter which realm they are in. As the situation becomes more hectic and dire, we feel like we are snowballing everything is becoming bigger and dangerous throwing us towards an explosive finale. Alyssa finally realises a little too late that the fourth player in this game was Jeb all along and the flowers her mother spoke to where predicating her death by his hand. Even though she has Chessie with her the only one that can save her as she can’t use her powers is Morpheus. Unbelievably Morpheus does come to her aid and she makes a deal with him; to give him 24 hour alone in Wonderland in order to help the marks Jeb gave her, so he doesn’t believe he is turning into his father. As Alyssa begins to trust Morpheus a little more he gives her one more warning that if she brings Jeb into this war he will be her destruction. As things barrel forward Alyssa finds out Jeb buyer Ivy is actually Queen Ivory keeping watch over him now Sister Two has sided with Red in order to get revenge for a betrayal that never happened. Alyssa is shown two futures by Ivory in which she can be with both of the men she loves but she is still torn because she feels she can’t love Jeb knowing that her eternity will be spent with Morpheus. Alyssa also frees herself from her mental cage setting her power free ready to face Red head on in Wonderland, but first they have to take a train ride to restore Jeb’s memory of his time in Wonderland.
As the trio attempt to make their way back to Wonderland, everything goes to Hell, Morpheus disappears again, Sister Two shows up and Alyssa has to deal with her alone. After escaping to London and boarding the train of memories, Alyssa uncovers the true betrayal Sister Two seeks revenge for; her mother stealing the human that kept her toys content, this human is Alyssa’s father. It is because of this Allison never returned to Wonderland and left that burden to eventually fall to her daughter. This hurts Alyssa deeply especially after the rocky road she walks with the relationship between herself and her parents, and she understands why her mother has never told her father of Wonderland because he would feel responsible for her time in the asylum and the trails her daughter has been put through. After Jeb reclaims his memories, Alyssa understands the fourth person in the game is her mother and together they must stop Red. In understanding memories of the past Alyssa realises Red plans to destroy the thing she desires most; a human life. She plans to destroy everything that makes her human starting with her prom. The last 50 pages of this novel were just awe-inspiring. So as the troublesome foursome consisting of Alyssa, Jeb, Allison and Morpheus prepare to meet Red in a final showdown everything comes to a head with Jeb sort-of proposing to Alyssa and Alyssa making a promise to Morpheus that even though she may marry and have children in the human realm she will return to him someday. I loved this spin on the overused love triangle – usually the girl has to choose between the 2 boys but Alyssa could have both of them in different lives but she ultimately and unknowingly makes a choice to be Morpheus’ queen as she was always destined to be but she feels guilty about betraying Jeb so the outcome of this love triangle is yet to be seen.
The final scenes of the novel were completely different from what I was expecting and Howard manages to throw a new curve ball at us and leaves an amazing cliff hanger for the final book in the trilogy. At the end of the book Alyssa ends up in the asylum but has a plan to escape and rescue her loved ones from Any Elsewhere by drawing the one person completely oblivious to Wonderland back into it with the use of a magic train; her father. I have a feeling A G Howard will have an action packed conclusion to this absolutely stunning series.
This Book was sent to me for review by Abrams & Chronicle
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Also see: Splintered by A. G. Howard