My one word for Ensnared: Masterful!
If you've been following the Splintered series, you're aware of the genius that is A. G. Howard. I enjoy her work so immensely I actually asked myself if it was possible to rave over a series too much. I thought about it for around 3 seconds and decided: Nope :)!
There's a New Red Queen in Town (aka Alyssa)
I've liked Alyssa from the very beginning—granted, she did frustrate me a bit in Unhinged because of the love triangle bit, though that was resolved marvelously in the next installment—but in Ensnared? I LOVED HER.
|I don't even know who this is...but I love this gif. He looks so excited LOL|
After Morpheus and Jeb disappear into AnyElsewhere, Alyssa decides it's time to embrace her Netherling side. In the past, she tried to ignore, neglect, and/or suppress it (though she grew more accustomed to it toward the end of Unhinged), but now that the two men she loves—not to mention her mother—have been taken, she knows she's going to need every bit of Netherling power she can muster.
Ensnared reveals the delicious complexity brimming just under the surface in Splintered and Unhinged. I always knew Alyssa had it in her...but before, she held herself back. Not anymore.
Alyssa finally yields to the no-nonsense attitude I always knew she had, sets aside her fears, and takes fierceness to another dimension in her determination to save the ones she loves. She's powerful, ferocious, inventive, and relentless, and she bares her whole heart in all the glory of its duality. It was truly a privilege to witness her journey of self-discovery as both human and Netherling. *goes off to re-read the series because it's THAT stellar*
That Love Triangle
I've mentioned it before, and I'm sure I'll be mentioning it again, but I really don't like love triangles. (Or square wanna-be triangle blob things.) But the 'triangle' in Ensnared really is different—it's actually believable and, whoa, justifiable.
I am 99.9% confident that I will never, in all my life, describe a love triangle as justifiable again, so you can take that as a sign that A.G. Howard has truly gone above and beyond.
I don't do spoilers, so I can't go much further...but WOW. Who Alyssa is, the totality of herself as both human and Netherling, is a huge part of what makes the romance so compelling and believable. If that component wasn't there, the romance would've fallen into quicksand in my eyes. It really is ingenious.
Sure, looks are important, but they aren't worth fanning myself over. Integrity and chivalry? Someone go call the fire department. *continues to fan self*
Morpheus and Jeb really outdo themselves in Ensnared. The entire time Alyssa is trapped outside Wonderland, unable to secure a way in, these two are...*gasp*...together. In the same place. Helping one another.
Yes, I know—it's a beautiful (and unexpected) thing. The lengths they went to in order to help Alyssa and Wonderland itself were commendable. Ack. Those pesky spoilers prevent me from saying much more...but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the direction Howard took with these two as individuals and as rivals.
The Ending—Alyssa's Choice
The big question: Who will Alyssa choose??!
*cheshire cat grin*
You'll have to dive in for yourself to find out, but I will say this: loads of people had mixed feelings about the end/her choice. Of course I was rooting for Morpheus, but...and I almost cannot believe I am saying this...Jeb is super sweet in this novel! In Unhinged he was meh. So he's a great artist and he's risen above his abusive father. That's stellar, BUT. Tug on my heartstrings it did not. Enter Ensnared, where he bypassed the heartstring tug entirely and ripped out my heart.
I gained such an affinity for and respect toward Jeb that I surprised myself. I mean, of course I wanted Alyssa to be with Morpheus...but at the same time, I felt that if she chose Jeb I'd be able to accept it—though mournfully—with grace. Are you seeing the level of skill as a writer you must have to be able to do something like this??!
A.G. Howard's ending was immensely satisfying (the gorgeous prose helped). I am SO EXCITED for Untamed. *ahem*
About the Author
|Photo by Pam Lary|
A.G. Howard was inspired to write Splintered, the first book in her bestselling Splintered Series, while working at a school library in her Texas hometown. She always wondered what would've happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.
When she's not writing, A.G.'s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.
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