December 10th, 2023
Home | Log in!

On Top Shelf
Fresh Pick

New Books This Week

Fresh Fiction Box

Video Book Club

Holiday Giveaways

December's Must-Reads: Top Books to Close Out the Year with a Bang

Slideshow image

Since your web browser does not support JavaScript, here is a non-JavaScript version of the image slideshow:

slideshow image
Reporter Emma Cross confronts high society and murder at a 1900s Newport yacht gathering.

slideshow image
Unraveling a secret aboard the missing Goliath, where history collides with present danger.

slideshow image
Undercover agents at a holiday party face unexpected danger and a budding romance.

slideshow image
Lord Julian unravels a dangerous mystery to reveal a child's heritage as well as his own birthright.

slideshow image
Uncovering the truth: A determined mother, a torn DA, and a dark mystery.

slideshow image
A Ukrainian medic and a Marine sniper's perilous mission ignites unexpected passion amid danger.


Unhinged, January 2014
by A. G. Howard

Featuring: Alyssa Gardner
400 pages
ISBN: 1419709712
EAN: 9781419709715
Kindle: B00H4Z22R8
Hardcover / e-Book
Add to Wish List


"It's time to put the crown back on- or else"

Fresh Fiction Review

A. G. Howard

Reviewed by Samantha R
Posted April 3, 2014

Fantasy | Young Adult

For a year, Alyssa Gardner has tried living a normal human life with her boyfriend, Jeb, even though her dreams are still full of Wonderland and the seductive Morpheus. When Morpheus makes an appearance in the flesh, Alyssa is faced with the decision to return to Wonderland and fight the Red Queen or stay with Jeb and her family, leaving Wonderland crumbling without her help. Alyssa continues on her potentially perilous quest of finding herself and her home in this sequel to A.G. Howard's Splintered.

After reading Splintered I really thought that the reimagining of Wonderland could not get any better, but UNHINGED takes the amazing world building already set up in Splintered and shoots fireworks at it, making it even better than the first. I love the incredible world of creatures, magic, darkness, and beauty that A.G. Howard has made in this series. The writing that builds this world is smooth, and the pacing leaves you absolutely gasping for air, especially by the end.

While I normally prefer just one main love interest, the love triangle between Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus is so full of angst, lies, betrayal, insanely swoony kisses, and adoring dialogue that I can'tt help but love it. My favorite character is Morpheus, Wonderland's equivalent of the snarky and sensual, but eternally devoted Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl. The dynamic between him and Alyssa is absolutely delicious and the ways they complement each other can only be described as magical. Here is a (potential) couple that puts equality between each other as a priority, and there is nothing I love more than that in romance. I am dying for the third book to find out what happens next in all of their relationships.

For anyone who enjoys reimaginings or fantasy, this is one of the best series I could possibly recommend. Whether you are a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland or not, this is a tale that will nearly overwhelm you with beauty and magic and take you on a journey you won't forget.

Learn more about Unhinged


Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what’s right? Readers will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard’s bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll’s classic.


The string of lights around my ankles and wrists drags me against the current, farther into the tunnel where the water is black. It’s like being submerged in cold ink. I fight to get my head above water but can’t. The chill leaves me numb, desperate to breathe.

Jeb finds me. Gripping underneath my arms, he draws me out enough that I get one swallow of air, but another surge of water tumbles him toward the pipe’s opening and the vinyl cords jerk me the opposite direction. I can tell by his distant shouts that he can’t follow. I’m glad he’s caught in the current. He’ll be safer once the rush of water deposits him outside.

Things I learned in Wonderland a year ago . . . powers I practice alone in my room so Mom won’t catch me and freak out . . . comeback, as forceful as the cords dragging me underneath gushing waves.

I relax my muscles and concentrate on the strands of lights, envisioning them alive. In my mind, the electricity that pulses through their wires becomes plasma and nutrients. They respond like living creatures. Their lights brighten enough for me to see under water as the wires animate.

Problem is, I haven’t been consistent with my magical exercises, so even though I’m giving the strand life, I have no control. It’s as if the lights have minds of their own.

Or maybe they’re under someone else’s influence.

Convulsing as I fight the need to inhale, I force my eyes to stay open under the water. The cold makes them ache. I’m shuttled into the deep end of the tunnel, as if riding an aquatic chariot harnessed to electric eels. The cords haul me toward a door— small and ancient—embedded in the concrete wall. It’s covered with moss, and out of place here in the human realm, but I’ve seen it before. I have the key to open it around my neck.

It doesn’t make any sense that it would be here, so far from the rabbit hole in London which is the only entrance into Wonderland from this world.

I jerk against my binds. I’m not sleeping, so this can’t be a dream. I don’t want to go inside that door while I’m awake. I’m still trying to get over the last time.

My lungs draw tight inside me, ravenous, until I have no choice. Going inside is my only way out, my only way to breathe and live. Straining against the bindings on my wrist, I bend my elbows to reach for my chest. With both hands, I snag the key on my necklace, shoving Jeb’s heart locket out of the way. The current pounds my head into the concrete wall. Pain shoots from my temple to my neck.

I sweep my bound legs like a mermaid’s tail in order to resituate in the water. When I drift once more toward the door, I thrust the key into the keyhole. With a twist of my wrists, the latch gives and water funnels out. At first I’m too big to breach the opening, but either the doorway grows or I shrink, because somehow I fit perfectly.

I ride the waves through the door, lifting my face to gulp air. A hillock stops me, hard enough to knock the air from my lungs. I’m left coughing in the mud, my throat and lungs sore, my wrists and ankles chafed from their struggle with the string of lights.

I flip to my back and kick my legs, trying to loosen my binds. A shadow of large black wings crawls across me, a shield from the storm brewing overhead. Streaks of neon lightning slash across the sky, casting the landscape in fluorescent hues and releasing an acrid, charred scent. Morpheus’s porcelain complexion—from his smooth face to his toned chest peering out of a half-buttoned shirt— looks as luminous as moonlight beneath the electric flashes.

He towers over me. His impressive height is the only thing he and Jeb have in common. A black duster jacket whips around his boots. He opens a hand, a lacy cuff slipping out from his jacket.

“Like I’ve been telling you, luv”—his deep accent rolls through my ears—“if you relax, your magic will respond. Or perhaps you’d rather stay tied up. I could place you on a platter for my next banquet. You know my guests prefer their entrees thrashing and raw.”

I cover my burning eyes and groan. Sometimes when I’m upset or nervous, I forget that there’s a trick to my netherling powers. Inhaling through my nose, I think of the sun glistening on the ocean’s lapping waves to calm my heartbeat, then breathe out through my mouth.

Within seconds, the light strand relaxes and falls away from me.

I flinch as Morpheus forces me to my feet. Weary from their battle with the water, my legs start to give, but he offers no other assistance. So typical of him, expecting me to stand on my own.

“I really hate you sometimes,” I say, propping myself against a giant leafy stem for support.

The daisy surrenders to my weight without a word, triggering a curious twinge in my gut. I can’t imagine why it’s not pushing me off or complaining.

“Sometimes.” Morpheus drops a black velvet cowboy hat over his blue hair. “A few weeks ago it was a definitive always. In a matter of days, you’ll be professing your undying lo—”

“Loathing?” I interrupt.

Smiling provocatively, he adjusts his hat to a cocky angle and the garland of dead moths across the brim trembles. “Either way, I’m under your skin. Either way, I win.” He taps long, elegant fingers on his red suede pants.

I fight the annoying impulse to return his smile, hyper- aware of what his body language does to my insides: how they curl and stretch warily, like a cat basking on a sunny ledge, drawn to the heat but guarded against slipping off.

“You’re not supposed to bring me here in the daytime.” I wring out my soaked skirt’s hem before moving to the tangles on my head. Gusts catch my hair, slapping slimy strands across my neck and face. Goosebumps cover my skin beneath my clothes. I shiver and cross my arms. “That’s not part of the deal.”

Morpheus wraps a wing halfway around me, blocking the wind. His expression teeters between admonishment and amusement. “I don’t recall agreeing to any deal. And you should be able to visit any time of day you please. You have a home here, too, after all.”

“So you keep insisting.” I break our stare before he can draw me into his mesmerizing gaze. I focus instead on the chaos around us. This is the worst I’ve ever seen it.

Deep purple clouds scud across the sky like fat, gauzy spiders. They leave dark trails, as if spinning webs in the air. The mud beneath my shoes groans and sputters. Brown bubbles pop and rise into the air. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear something was breathing under there.

Even the wind has found a voice, loud and melancholy, whistling through the flower-zombie forest that once stood as proud as elms. The flowers used to greet me with snarky attitudes and snooty conversation. Now, each and every one cowers, bent at the stems, their wilted arms hiding petals that are studded with hundreds of shuttered eyes.

The multi-eyed netherlings have lost their fight . . . their soul.

Morpheus slides his hands into a pair of slick red gloves. “If you think this is tragic, you should see what’s happening in the heart of Wonderland.”

What do you think about this review?


No comments posted.

Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!




© 2003-2023  all rights reserved Privacy Policy