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Audiobook Review: Ensnared by A.G. Howard

Audiobook Review: Ensnared by A.G. Howard
Ensnared by A.G. Howard
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Series: Splintered #3
Published by Blackstone Audio
Published on: January 6, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Length: 13 hrs
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audiobook Jukebox
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After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves, even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles … and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world—a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts.

In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?

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Before I launch into my review, I feel that it is important to mention that I LOVE all things ALICE IN WONDERLAND, so even though this trilogy contained certain elements that I normally find intolerable (i.e. love triangles), I’m not holding it to my usual standards because of my Lewis Carroll bias. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my final trip down A.G. Howard’s rabbit hole, or rather through the looking-glass, and was satiated by the ending, but ENSNARED also wasn’t without its faults. The last 1/4 was 5-star worthy with its creeptastic Netherlings, sharp plot twists, and original resolution; however the 3/4 that preceded it was slow paced and disorganized.

After the discoveries that were made in UNHINGED, I was happy that ENSNARED opened with Alyssa’s dad’s back story, although I could have done with more recap because I’ve read over one hundred novels in the year long lull between books 2 and 3, so understandably I was a bit fuzzy on the details. I actually listened to the first two hours TWICE seeing how I dozed off a few times, and thought I’d missed it, but no, the earlier chapters were just plain sluggish. Once I got past that hurdle, my jaunt in AnyElsewhere was fun; I loved meeting all of the Wonderland outcasts, and was delighted by Jeb’s fall from grace because it leveled the romantic playing field.

I’ve had the damnedest time picking a team in this series due to both suitors being kinda offensive, so I was somewhat hoping that Aly would go all Red Queen on their hides, and proclaim “Off with their heads!” Unfortunately, Young Adult typically doesn’t believe in bloody HEA’s which means that that option was out, but Howard’s solution was the next best thing. I liked her unconventional ending to this trilogy’s love triangle, although it didn’t come as a big shock because it was kind of hinted at in the previous installment. This book was also in desperate need of an epilogue, and the author was gracious enough to deliver, so amen to THAT!

I started this series in audio, and it was only fitting that I finish it that way too. Rebecca Gibel is a savvy narrator who was more than up to the task of bringing the SPLINTERED world to life for the third time. I loved how committed she was to the characters, especially Morpheus, and her range of Netherling voices never ceases to amaze, in both their diversity, and ghoulish pitch. Alyssa’s progression from insecure teenage girl to immortal monarch was just as evident in the writing as it was in Gibel’s delivery. I will definitely be seeking out other audiobooks that have her listed as the narrator after reaping the benefits of this threefold performance.

ENSNARED wasn’t all that I was hoping for, but it’ll do.

Splintered Series

My Review

My Review

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. I one clicked this book recently, didn’t realize it was a series ender. Doh! Now I am not sure I want to check it out at all. Thanks for the review!
    Karen Blue recently posted…Discussion Post: Giveaway Rant

    • You gotta rein-in that twitchy finger of yours! The first two books were on sale last time I checked…

  2. Splintered is still on my TBR pile. I’ll admit I bought it as an impulse buy due to the Alice and Wonderland reference and that gorgeous cover. Since purchasing, I haven’t read a lot of reviews for this series. I’m glad it ends well. Off to find my copy of Splintered and get started!
    E.J. Stevens recently posted…Q+A with Rebecca Chastain + A Fistful of Evil Book Giveaway

    • These covers are damned near impossible to resist, so I don’t blame you for falling into that particular trap!

  3. I am not a fan of Alice in Wonderland and I listened to the first one on audio and thought it was never going to get bored me. I think this series has some of the best covers I have ever seen and I am disappointed that I didn’t like the first enough to
    Stormi recently posted…Book Review: Blood Games by Chloe Neill

    • It took me a while to get into the narrator too; she reads at a pretty slow pace, so I found it helpful to speed up the audio a bit. I understand that it’s not for everyone though.

  4. Is that a black eye in the shape of a heart?
    Nathan ( recently posted…U.S. Giveaway – ‘Half Bad’ by Sally Green

    • Kinda. Jeb creates a facsimile of himself, and kinda botches it.

  5. Admittedly, the love triangle is what turned me off this series right off the bat. I’m glad that I did, because for me, it’s an unforgivable offense. It’s right up there with cheating. I used to feel a bit bad about missing out on AG Howard’s writing, but after reading this, I’m more than convinced that I made the right choice. Good on you, for not letting that love triangle get in our way. 🙂
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…[480]: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

    • This is one of those rare exceptions where I was able to look past the love triangle, and that’s mostly thanks to my obsession with fairy tale re-tellings of Alice in Wonderland. Plus, all of the teams make out alright which is unusual.

  6. I have seen so many people say that this wasn’t what they were hoping for that it makes me hesitant to pick it up! I read the first two chapters and loved it I am scared to continue. I don’t want an ending that is wrapped up too tightly and neatly.
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Blog Tour Spotlight: Haven Waiting by Tifani Clark

    • The ending was rather convenient, but the author did a good job of setting readers’ expectations, and it made sense given the heroine’s dual natures. I totally get why so many peeps were pissed though.

  7. I still need to finish book 2 and then will eventually get to this one. Might not be as quick as planned based on this, too many good series I’m catching up on right now
    Kristina D recently posted…Some Thursday Randomness

    • I struggled with book 2 because it takes place in the mortal realm which is super boring when compared to Wonderland and AnyElsewhere. For some reason I gave it 4 stars…

  8. Hm. Unconventional ending to the love triangle you say? That has me a little worried, but then again, if you weren’t really on board with either suitor then it was clearly and ending that worked well. It’s a shame this one wasn’t quite the outstanding conclusion you were hoping for, but I’m glad it worked well enough!

    • Yeah, I think being unable to pick a team actually worked out in my favour because I wasn’t really invested in Aly’s choice either way. Unlike in Kresley Cole’s Dead of Winter where I was PISSED.

  9. Okay, well I was wondering if she was going to end the love triangle the way I thought she was going to end it after the last book, and I guess it’s okay that she does. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it, but I’m reserving judgement until I read it. I’m disappointed that the rest of the book was slow, though – that’s kind of how I felt about the last book too. Ah well, I’m definitely still planning to read this one!
    Nicole recently posted…ARC Review – Inked by Eric Smith

    • I don’t know why these books are as slow paced as they are; that’s really this trilogy’s major downfall IMO. As long as you go in with realistic expectations with regards to the love triangle, you should make out ok.

  10. If I was a fan of Alice in Wonderland or YA I might want to read this series but since I’m not I’ll probably pass.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Freebie Friday!

  11. I confess that I haven’t really tried real Alice retelling but I’m quite curious to try. I herd a lot about this series but I should try one day too to see how it is. Sorry though that it wasn’t as good as you thought it would be.

    • It’s not really a re-telling per say as this story takes place several generations after Alice, but many of the original elements are still present.

  12. Fascinating cover. Have a great weekend.
    sherry fundin recently posted…Giveaway ~ The Dreamslayer by Jill Cooper

    • I could stare at the artwork all day. Thanks, you too!

  13. I pretty much devoured and loved Splintered, but held off on book two due to some not so positive reviews and the fact it was in the human realm. I’m glad you finished it and got to the amazing ending. I’m a bit worried about my HEA though. Because I enjoy her descriptive writings so much I plan on keeping this series on my tbr. Being a Alice in Wonderland fan and all 🙂

    Thanks for the thoughtful review and have a great weekend, Carmel!
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…New Adult Book Review: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

    • I didn’t count the days between releases, but I did make listening to each installment somewhat a priority. The author’s descriptive writing style is out in full force in this book thanks to Jeb.

  14. I don’t know that these are for me at this point in my reading (maybe sometime down the line as reading habits change) but oh my word the covers on thew hole series pull me in every time!
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Guest Post w/ Angela Addams– Whew, yall! She’s got some HEAT for you!

  15. The love triangle and ending ruined this great story for me, but the audios for all of them were amazing!
    Nereyda recently posted…Audiobook Review & Giveaway: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall!

    • Haha! Yes, I know. I read your rant. I totally get it.

  16. I gave up on this series after the first book, and I’m not sure if I regret it. I mean I like the idea and all that, but it simply wasn’t my thing. It’s hard to explain. But still I’m so glad that you enjoyed the whole trilogy. Great review, Carmel 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

    • I get it. Howard’s writing style is an acquired taste. I had some growing pains at first too, but I persevered.

  17. Well, I almost had this off my list, a least for a while, but I think I’ll move it up closer to the top. I curious to see what happens, and who knows, now that my expectations have been lowered I probably enjoy it more than I think I will.
    Thank you Carmel, good work! As always 🙂
    Lupdilup recently posted…The Darkest Touch Audiobook by Gena Showalter (review)

    • I think knowing what you’re in for going in definitely helps. I’ll be curious to see how you feel about the ending. We’re usually on the same page, but this book might change that!

  18. Bummer that the reviews for this one are lackluster. I enjoyed the first two books, but I am so not happy that we have to go the love triangle route. I have yet to read a glowing review for this, so I am going to shove it down the pile and wait for a library copy.
    Heidi recently posted…Friday Forecast: January 18th-24th

    • The love triangle wasn’t overly surprising, it’s been present to a lesser degree since the beginning. I’ve only read a couple of 5-star reviews for Ensnared, and they were by die hard YA readers who never seem to have anything negative to say, so…

  19. Now I don’t feel as bad missing this. My fault really, I thought I snagged an arc only to find out last minute it was a sampler!! $%^&*!!!!

    Anyway, I dislike the (non) love triangle here. I thought it was resolved in the first one then she revived it in book 2 and now it seems she’s muddying the playing field with both suitors being offensive. Maybe Ally should just abstain or go dip in the lady pond for a while
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Quick Hits: Dictatorship of the Dress by Jessica Topper & Prohibited! by Delancey Stewart

    • So, the ARC on NG was only a sampler? In that case, I’m happy that I skipped it in favour of the audio, not that I had planned switching to reading to begin with, but the temptation was there when I saw it.

  20. I got the first book when it first came out but I still haven’t read it. I like the idea of listening to it on audio though. The love interests are kind of offensive? Yikes. I don’t know what to think about that but I’m sure I’ll be reading this at some point.
    Candace recently posted…Candlewick Press GIVEAWAY of 6 of the Best Books of All Time!

    • It’s Wonderland, right? So there are bound to be a few cray-cray characters, and even the human went off his rocker in this final installment. At least all of the books are out which means no waiting when you finally do get around to ’em.

  21. I’m in the middle of the book on audio and I have to agree about Rebecca’s narration. I really enjoy it. Plus, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought both guys are being asswipes. Ugh. I’m also happy that the ending is more a 5. I tend to be an ending girl and it will influence my rating.
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Art Book Review: Daily Painting by Carol Marine

    • Had the full second half been better than the first, I probably would have given it 4-stars, sadly it was only the final 1/4 that was top notch. Yes, asswipes, this is why I wanted Aly to chop their heads off. LOL!

  22. Woot! I’m a fan of Alice in Wonderland as well. I have the first book in audio can’t wait to start it after seeing everyone love the series. Great review 🙂

    • I hope you enjoy Rebecca Gibel’s narration just as much as I did!

  23. I really adore all things Alice in Wonderland as well. I have yet to check-out this series though. After reading this, the Splintered series has def. moved up on my TBR pile. 🙂

    • This trilogy is a MUST For all Alice fans! The first two installments on on sale until the end of January.

  24. The love triangle in this series has driven me crazy! I have read a few reviews recently about the ending not being up to par but I’m still very excited to start it soon and to see how it all ends.

    A great review Carmel.
    Sharon – Obsession with Books recently posted…Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

    • Lots of peeps are calling the ending a cop out, but I personally I couldn’t have seen this series wrapping up any other way.

  25. I’ve put off this series for a long ass time and didn’t have any plans to read it soon but I heard so much about the unconventional ending that I just simply want to read all three books in one go to see it! Everybody is pretty much talking about it since this has been released and I wanna know why!
    Faye M. recently posted…ARC Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

    • I’m sure that if you trolled the internet long enough you’d find spoilers, but the best approach is always reading it for yourself. Plus, it’s only 3 books, so not a crazy commitment.

  26. I also love Alice in Wonderland, but my love for it it’s not enough to make me listen/read these books… why? Love triangle. I hate them!!!
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Movie Trailer: Avengers: Age of Ultron

    • Understandable. I’m kinda surprised that this one didn’t bug me as much as it should have. Maybe it was because I listened to Dead of Winter prior to this audiobook, so this love triangle had nothing on Cole’s.

  27. I haven’t read these despite the awesome covers, and love of Alice. However my oldest is a huge fan and I am sure she will devour it. Great review Carmel.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

    • I couldn’t say no to these covers! And, for the most part it worked out.

  28. Such a cool pretty cover!
    blodeuedd recently posted…Mage’s Blood – David Hair and #FitReaders: Weekly Check-In Jan 16 2015

    • I’m torn between the 1st & 3rd for my fav.

  29. I read the first book this summer and it didn’t work for me – but I think its a great series for diehard Alice in Wonderland fans like you. I’m glad you enjoyed it and were even able to overlook some of your big no-nos for it. I do agree with you that Rebecca is a fantastic narrator, she was my favorite thing about the first book!
    Berls recently posted…2014 Book of the Year | Finals

    • I thought the author did a good job marrying her story with the original fairy tale. However, if it’d been longer than a trilogy, I’m not sure I would have stuck it out until the end.

  30. I didn’t end up picking this series up when it first came out since I wasn’t completely in love with the idea of retellings (since then I’ve grown to like them, occasionally) that being said, I don’t think this one was a ‘me’ series, my main reason being the love triangle. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this one (although I hear the plot and writing is fantastic) so kudos to you for being able to look past the love triangle.
    Lily recently posted…Never Never #1: Review

    • Granted, love triangles aren’t an easy pill to swallow, but this series had enough other things going for it that I didn’t mind overly much.

  31. Well, I am happy the ending was good. I like things to be somewhat settled when a series ends. But it sucks so much of the book was slow. I might need to go all skim street on this.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #112: Leaving Amarillo

    • Normally I expect a series finale to pull out all of the stops, so the pacing was a buzz kill, but the ending somewhat made up for it.

  32. This book has been EVERYWHERE. It reminds me that I do need to read the original Alice in Wonderland at some point since there are so many retellings! The one thing that slightly puts me off from reading this series is the love triangle, but I should put that off as you have.

    It seems like the whole “1/4th was awesome!” and “3/4th was slow and all over the place!” is a thing observed in so many last books. Also something I’ve seen a bunch about this book. People to seem vary widely on whether or not they like it, huh?

    If you find yourself not remembering much of what happened in previous YA novels, this site ( has a lot of recaps. They don’t have it for this series, but since that problem for this series, I figured I’d mention it :).

    “I’ve had the damnedest time picking a team in this series due to both suitors being kinda offensive” — This this is what keeps bothering me about the reviews I’ve seen. So many of them discuss the love triangle and so few mention the idea that either interest is good, so I’m kind of wary. (Oh, hahaha, I see that you liked Red Queen. That did handle the LT elements well, I’d agree.) And it is a bit unfortunate that YA doesn’t end up upping the game too much re: bloody HEAs or super unpredictable no-hold-bars sort of endings. It’s good to hear though that the author did experiment a little. I like unconventional endings.

    I’m glad you at least enjoyed some of Ensnared even if it wasn’t everything you wanted :).
    Christina recently posted…The Bias Against YA (+ Best Books of 2014)

    • This is the second YA novel that I’ve listened to in a row with a love triangle where I was hoping that the heroine would say no to both boys, and go the badass route. I think this is a sign that I read too much UF. LOL! Thanks for the link to that website; I’m sure that it’ll come in handy.

  33. You liked this one a bit more than I did Carmel. I couldn’t properly put together a review for this one (my thoughts were all jumbled) but I do have “discussion” chat about it scheduled for tomorrow. I do agree that there was a giant lull at the beginning, most times I started tuning out the story because i wasn’t interested.

    Rebecca Gibel sold this story for me, and I must find more books that has narrated. I just adore how she voices both Morpheus and Rabid White.
    Amber Elise recently posted…Weekly Wrap Up: January 11-15, 2015

    • I’m late replying this week which actually works out because I’ve already read your discussion post, and answered all of your questions. 😀

  34. So many series to start. I feel so left out. Anyway, too bad it wasn’t that great huh. I love everything Alice too so I have a feeling I’ll like this series as well. Great review Carmel. As always 🙂
    Paula M. recently posted…REVIEW: Broken Skies (Broken Skies #1) by Theresa Kay + Giveaway!!

    • This one’s only a trilogy if that helps.

  35. I’ve been wanting to start this series. I’m glad that it ended well although that is too bad that most of the book was slow. I’m so curious about the unconventional ending to the love triangle now. Neither or both maybe? I’m mostly a fan of epilogues. I’d rather know too much than not get a satisfying ending.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Generation V, Iron Night, and Tainted Blood by ML Brennan

    • You might be on to something there. I like that the author thought outside of the box, although some readers saw it as cheating. You’ll have to make up your own mind!

  36. I’m so happy you enjoyed this final installment, Carmel. This is a series I’ve wanted to read but refrained by buying for some reason. The covers are gorgeous and that was my initial draw. Anyway, I’m glad Howard kept you engaged with the story – even if 3/4 was slow – and that Gibel narrated well.
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Travel by the Book #1 ~ Savannah

    • I considered quitting this series after Unhinged, but decided that I just HAD to know how Aly’s story ended, and Howard did good!

  37. I feel like I didn’t manage to enjoy this one so much for my own emotional states because I had to detach myself from the whole thing a bit in order to continue to read it, so I’m not sure what I think of the ending yet…

    I simply adore Anita’s writing and the world she has created, and how she had plot twist after plot twist and the creepy creatures… So there’s a lot I loved in the book, but also left me a bit of unease.
    Pili recently posted…One Year Celebration: Happy 1st birthday to A Mad Wicked Folly!!

    • That sounds like the definition of a 3-star read to me!

  38. I’ve been so afraid of reading this book. I really did not enjoy Unhinged (because of Jeb being put on a bloody pedestal and Alyssa being so utterly naive) but I was looking forward to reading the sequel nonetheless. I’m glad to know it was good, Carmel. i want to know how the triangle was resolved! Great review!
    Marianne recently posted…Review: Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag

  39. AH! I need to find a spoiler review of this. I listened to the first book, actually read a little too because I disliked it so much I wondered if it was just the narration. It wasn’t. The narrator is actually pretty good, I just couldn’t stand the writing – Splintered was one of the only 1 star books I read last year.
    That said, I am interested to know what happens. The story was interesting enough, I just disliked the writing so much I couldn’t keep going.
    I’m glad you liked it though, the kids at the library LOVE this series. I might actually be one of the few people around who didn’t enjoy it.
    Great review!