Absolutely gripping from start to finish, Howard has woven a whimsical and magical tale that has left me both thrilled and enchanted! Splintered's evocative imagery brought Wonderland and its inhabitants to life, lyrical prose had me dancing along its pages, while complex characterization gave the story depth and meaning.A companion novel to Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Splintered uses the Alice story as background in order to tell a new story - and Howard manages to perform this feat without disrespecting the original text. Everything from Alice is present - the white rabbit, the mad hatter, the smiling cheshire cat - yet it's tweaked in a way that makes sense, resulting in a darker and more twisted Wonderland for a slightly older audience.Both beautiful and terrifying, Howard's Wonderland oozed magic and intrigue, leaving me begging for more while the slight, yet clever, modifications to classic staples from the original Alice tale held me captive as I eagerly awaited the next character. Add in absolutely stunning descriptions of Wonderland's many landscapes, brought to life with Howard's lyrical prose, and I was completely and irrevocably hooked.The characters in Splintered were fantastic - Alyssa was self-conscious, yet confident and immediately relatable because of it. Her courage and selflessness when it came to protecting her family was so endearing, and she handled the teasingly slow reveal of family secrets with much more patience and understanding then I would have been able to muster. Jeb was a little overbearing in his protectiveness, but it also showed how deeply he cared for Alyssa in spite of the obstacles keeping them apart. Considering his harsh upbringing and resulting angst, it also made his softer, vulnerable moments that much sweeter, especially considering he never resorted to douchery to get his point across.And then there's Morpheus: a mischievously deceptive netherling with a Cockney accent, he spent the entirety of Splintered breaking my heart with his betrayal, only to mend it whole with a whispered explanation that painted him in a less selfish light. It frustrated me that I couldn't pin point his motives, but it made Howard's sneaky twist ending that much more shocking.I just can't even begin to do Splintered justice. Easily one of the most imaginative reads of the year, Splintered has left an aching desire in my heart to get lost amongst its magical pages, transported into a Wonderland that both thrills and terrifies me. Surprisingly unique, Splintered is creative fantasy at its absolute best!