Author: A. G. Howard
Review: Untamed is a companion novel to the Splintered series set after the events of the last novel. There are 3 main stories which are basically about Alyssa’s life after Ensnared, Allison’s own journey in Wonderland and Jeb’s lost memories from his first visit to Wonderland. This was a novel I really wanted to read as the ending of Ensnared left me with a few questions I wanted answered primarily regarding what happened to Alyssa afterwards. I wasn’t as hyped for this book as the others in the series because even though I had questions about what happened after Ensnared I felt the series ended on a great note and possibly did warrant another book but none the less I was excited to have most of my questions answered.
The first story The Boy in the Web is Allison recounting her own time in Wonderland. I particularly enjoyed her comparisons between herself and Alyssa and how after 20 year she realises she was never meant to be Queen of the Nether realm and how even if she did become Queen she wouldn’t have been able to cope with being without Thomas for eternity. Even though she still hasn’t forgiven Morpheus for tricking Alyssa she understands it was never out of spite, it was because he has loved her for a long time and couldn’t be without her. She also see her daughter will make an amazing Queen and that Morpheus will guide her through the grief of losing her loved ones after she returns to Wonderland once her heart has healed. Allison talks in depth about her formative years including her mothers’ death and how see bounced around foster homes. She talks remembers the first time she met Morpheus as she is planning to jump out a window to escape a pervert living in her new foster mom’s apartment building when he appears to help her have some “fun” will Wally. Allison has changed much from a child she is still strange and wilful but she now sees the consequences of her actions on those around her. We learn out how Morpheus coaxed her into using her powers for chaos including the death of Wally and as a consequence she loses the one home she could have been happy and wouldn’t find another one until she entered Wonderland.
Allison strikes a bargain with Morpheus to be trained to retake the Red Throne to rule Wonderland and find the “family” she would never have in the human realm. For their anniversary Thomas and Allison go on a ride on the train of lost memories. Thomas does this to show Allison without her rescuing him from the web all those years ago all their happy memories would not exist; their marriage, their daughter it was all made possible because of her. She is their hero and will always be. I really like this aspect as Allison harbours a lot of guilt for not returning to Wonderland especially because it changed Morpheus so much, but on the train ride she learns in abandoning her quest to become Queen allowed Morpheus to love, freed Thomas and allowed Alyssa to be born and live the wonderful life she now has. I did feel though that we didn’t need this much background into Allison’s story as great portions are revealed throughout the Splintered series.
The second story The Moth in the Mirror is told from Morpheus’ point of view as he explores Jeb’s memories. This story is set in the 6 months Alyssa returned to the human world after being crowned the Red Queen. Morpheus seeks to find Jeb’s weakness through his memories of Wonderland and use them against him in order to claim Alyssa as his own; the first memory he uncovers is when he sent the sprites to seduce Jeb and force him to return to the human realm and as we know that didn’t go as planned. The second memory is of Alyssa’s final task of entering the Twid sisters cemetery and how Morpheus revealed part of his hand to Jeb and how after she had completed the final task he would use Jeb as a bargaining chip to make Alyssa stay in Wonderland in her rightful place another theory we know backfired on Morpheus. My favourite memory we see of Jeb’s is when he traded places with Ivory in the Jabberwock box in order for Alyssa to live and be free as this is the ultimate act he gave his eternity for hers’ so no one would ever question his loyalty and love for her again, this is what makes Jeb such a loveable character and how he differs so much from Morpheus; he has things Morpheus will never have purely because he is a netherling, he could never imagine dying for another in a world where everyone much fight for their right to live. I also liked seeing how these memories affected Morpheus instead of doing the honourable thing and letting Alyssa go it made him even more determined to become more like Jeb and win over Alyssa’s heart completely but this as he knows somewhere in his subconscious will never be true.
The final story in the bind-up Six Impossible Things is about Alyssa’s life after the events of Ensnared and how magic and Wonderland still played very important roles in her life. The first chapter her details how Alyssa faked her death and returned to Wonderland. She reminisces about Jeb’s death and their life together, how she hid all the evidence of Wonderland away and the final farewell she received from the Earth dwelling insects and even though she had already accepted eternity in Wonderland she couldn’t resist on last look at the place she called home for 80 years. Even visiting Wonderland as an old woman in her dreams was tainted with her impending death, although her relationship with Morpheus intensifies and becoming more adult it remains PG although she’s no a shy little girl anymore as she has great grandchildren. This was particularly heart-wrenching for me as she is leaving behind a whole life in exchange for another even though a part of herself still wanted to die with Jeb she flies back to her rightful place.
The second chapter of Alyssa’s story is made up of a selection of memories from her life after Ensnared. The first being her return to the human realm and how the explained Allison and Jeb’s absence for a month and how she has escaped the asylum, within this memory Jeb and Alyssa also reveal all their secrets to Jen and Corbin with a very funny Rabid White as well with a little trick Morpheus taught him. We also see the relationship between Jeb and Morpheus change after they used their combined magic and love for Alyssa to heal her of Red’s curse. The next memory is set four years after their return from Wonderland on Jeb and Alyssa’s wedding day. Morpheus doesn’t appear at the wedding but he does make it interesting by sending an enchanted cupcake making Alyssa’s netherling side come out and she can’t make it go away which makes for some interesting improvisations to their wedding. The final memory in this story is about Jeb’s death. Jeb was diagnosed with cancer and given 6 months to live in hospital surrounded by his family he use his wish. He wishes to die peacefully and for it not to tear up his family too much and in his last moments he and Alyssa relive some of their fondest memories including their wedding night and the birth of their children before their time finally draws to a close.
The last few chapters of this book are about Alyssa’s life after her mortal life ended and her eternal life with Morpheus began starting with falling down the rabbit hole into his waiting arms and her return to Wonderland as the eternal reigning Red Queen with her King at her side. I loved Alyssa’s memories of given birth to her dream-child who would give all netherlings the ability to dream again, it was just a beautiful scene to watch Morpheus experience his son’s birth. This chapter was also tainted with sadness as Finley dies leaving a heavily pregnant Ivory behind but as a mortal he was always destined to die but Alyssa wished he could have seen his son and she finds herself giving Morpheus a gift Finley will never have. I also like looked through Alyssa’s child eyes at Wonderland at only 5 years old. We learn of the trails and tricks Morpheus used to teach her the skills necessary for a Queen, he teaches her to bend the flowers to her will and to tame the Bandersnatch. My favourite chapter by far was last chapter were Morpheus’ and Alyssa’s son is finally born and they finally get to meet the little Prince Muse, so named because Alyssa’s muse brought her to Wonderland and Jeb’s muse saved and re-painted it all those years ago. And although Alyssa reminiscences about her human life in that moment sheltered by her King with her son in her arms so has never or will ever want for more.
This book was so thought provoking and emotion enduring that it made me cry a few times and it made me laugh especially at the way Alyssa and Morpheus tease each other constantly. But the thing I liked most was seeing the vulnerable side of the solitary fae known as Morpheus and how every emotional defence was brought down by his Queen and how she and she alone taught him to love not only his world, his subject and even those who don’t belong like the mortals.
This book was sent to me for review by Abrams & Chronicle
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Also see: Splintered by A. G. Howard