- The modern twist. Female descendants of Alice Liddell have been cursed, the most recent being Alyssa's mother, who is put in an asylum. She wears blue dresses with pinafores, refuses to eat out of anything but a teacup, and talks to flowers and bugs. I loved how Howard took the elements of the classic we know and love and examined them through the lens of modern-day society, revealing just how ridiculous and mad they truly are.
- The Jabberlock box. The jabberlock box was by far my favorite horror element of the book. Your soul trapped for all eternity in a box, forcing you to slowly forget not only your past but yourself.
- The soul straight jackets. Wonderland faeries travel to our world to harvest over-loved, discarded toys. They then take these toys back to wonderland and fill them with souls. Because the toys are starved for affection and company, they hold the souls in place with an iron grip, never letting go. This was equal parts creepy and sad, but unbelievably creative regardless.
- Humphrey. While Humphrey (aka Humpty Dumpty) makes only a small cameo in the book, he was by far my favorite character. His spunk and sarcasm won me over from his very first line.
- The pace. This book was drawn out way too long. Almost everything felt over-described and even the action sequences felt like they moved at a crawling pace. This was my biggest problem with the book. If it had been about 100-200 pages shorter, I think I would've enjoyed it a LOT more.
- Show, don't tell. Going with my first problem, I think part of the reason the pace felt so slow was a lack of showing what was happening rather than telling us about it. The action scenes didn't feel active, they felt narrated. The same thing goes with the people and the places. Yes, we were given a lot of detail, but it was usually too much detail, which took away from the description's importance and just made it, too, feel drawn out and narrated.
- The love triangle. Only near the very end of the book did the love between Alyssa and either of her love interests feel well-formed and believable. This made the love triangle that was present throughout the book feel half-baked and weird.
- The horror elements. The horror elements in this story fell flat, mostly tying back to the show, don't tell point I made earlier. The reason these things weren't scary is because they didn't feel real. If they don't feel real, they aren't a threat, taking away their power to be scary, shocking, or frightening.
"Tearing down the rest of the world won't make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That's what fills the emptiness. It's the only thing that can."
I wanted to like this book so much, but I just didn't. Its slow pace and overdescription made the horror elements and action scenes which would have otherwise been really engaging fall completely flat. But for someone who likes a LOT of description (particularly involving costuming) and loves Alice in Wonderland, this would probably be a fantastic read.