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Publishers WeeklyHoward's first book is as much a quilt as manuscript, stitching together bits of the zeitgeist with thread of the author's own spinning. Lewis Carroll's Alice serves as a backdrop, while characters like Brandon Lee's Crow and Neil Gaiman's Morpheus are models of dark desire. Protagonist Alyssa, however, is an original. The descendent of Carroll's Alice, 16-year-old Alyssa can hear bugs talking and fears she has inherited the madness that plagues her mother's side of the family. The only way to silence the insects' voices is by killing them, using the corpses as material for her ornate artwork. Howard's visual imagination is superior; a cavalcade of weirdness dances across the pages as Alyssa and her secret crush, Jeb, traverse a nightmare Wonderland, trying to save her institutionalized mother and resist the seductive influence of Morpheus. The story's creepiness is intriguing as horror, and its hypnotic tone and setting, at the intersection of madness and creativity, should sweep readers down the rabbit hole. Ages 14-up. Agent: Jenny Bent, the Bent Agency.
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