Ethan Walker was a typical teenager in that respect. He was happy, living at home with his family and partying when the mood struck. He was in no rush to grow up. His life was a blank page just waiting to be written, but that couldn’t last forever.
Unfortunately, reality came knocking at Ethan’s door, forcing him to face truths he’d never allowed himself to see in the past – truths that soon robbed him of his innocence and youth. With the life he’d always known gone forever, Ethan found himself battling demons in disguise, only to find his own weakness was his worst enemy.
When temptation turned to indulgence, and the ghosts of his past encouraged him to dig deeper, Ethan sought salvation in the form of violence. His fists and fortitude became his bread and butter, but the new turn in his life rejected the familiar and opened the door to more evil.
Inevitably, the darkness tried to sink him, and there was only one constant light that somehow seemed to shine brighter than the promise of escape: the mystery girl with the golden hair.
In order to survive, Ethan had to dig deep and find a strength in himself not even he was sure existed. Only when he found himself on a path to Wonderland did he start to see a future beyond his past. All he had to do to get there was learn to breathe and not get himself killed in the process.
**Book 3 in the Road to Wonderland Series, Ethan Walker can be read in conjunction with Izzy Moffit’s Road to Wonderland by Victoria L. James and Paris Hemsworth’s Road to Wonderland by Francesca Marlow or standalone.
***I received this ARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour.
Ethan Walker’s Road to Wonderland is a harrowing story of loss, escape, and trying to live again. Not everyone takes a pretty path towards the future and some fall prey to toxic habits to get them to the next day, so lost are they to their grief. Ethan was a victim of circumstance, one that nearly took him to an early grave. In true Wonderland fashion, Ethan’s journey is a hard one with tough lessons and disastrous choices but with the help of friends, hope and recovery are still possible.
- Ethan’s story is a provocative and intensely real one. The dangers of drug use are depicted full force as they turn from a coping mechanism to true addiction. Ethan’s life becomes a hot mess of illicit sex, blurred days, and desperation to get his next fix. Everything he once was, his innocence, his heart are in a catastrophic and precarious situation as he loses all ability to care. L.J. Stock clearly did substantial research in the use of recreational drugs, the feelings, emotions, and effects as well as the recovery process.
- Ethan is a player, what’s unclear is how much of his sexual prowess was pre or manifested from drug use. He likes to live in the moment, partying, feeling, grabbing the pleasures life has to offer by the horns and going with it. He’s got a dirty mouth and blunt, erotic thoughts that will turn your face a nice shade of pink. The way he treats women is abominable but they’re not really any better. Most are skanky, flirty girls who put out for anyone and have no regrets the next day. Gruff, sexy, and full of arrogant charm, Ethan is hyper masculine. Between his killer body and blatant sex appeal, he’s hard to resist. Even in his drug induced haze, Ethan has moments of stark clarity that show the true nature of his character, one who is loyal, loves fiercely, and protects the people he cares about. Rife with guilt, Ethan’s concern is never truly with his personal safety but what it’s doing to his little brother and how it’s hurting his best friend, Scott.
- The relationship between Ethan and his father is brief but gut-wrenching. The hatred, loathing, and general disgust are especially poignant. The final conversation is heartbreaking to read, that anyone could be so heartless and cruel was shocking and twisted. My heart ached for Ethan as he discovered that parents are not always heroes and sometimes they’re nothing more than your ticket into this world.
- I loved Ethan because despite his obvious flaws, he was real. He didn’t pretend to be anything but a mess, he knew he was a jerk, and when he made mistakes, his heart rose to the surface, fighting to regain who he once was. Ethan’s path isn’t sugar-coated and far from traditional yet so many people go through similar situations after loss.
- Ethan’s rehabilitation felt fast and unresolved. Because the scenes in the center were glossed over, his true anguish and suffering were muted.
- As Ethan’s best friend, Scott was a poor example but there for him when he needed to be slapped in the face and woken up from his perilous life choices. Scenes with Scott are far and few between. While their bond is felt, it’s not as strong as it could have been. More scenes of them together, to capture their particular interactions and really gauge their friendship would have helped to feel like Ethan had a real friend. Instead, Ethan felt alone, not entirely because he cut people out and pushed them away but there wasn’t a build up to place the foundation of their friendship.
- Ethan’s run with Daggs seemed much less sinister and lighter than it felt from the brief insinuations in the other RTW books. The nature of Daggs character, his wicked evil personality, his despicable actions were absent. Ethan’s life hung in the balance of this horrendous person and his cronies and the foreboding, the anticipation, the fear were minimal.
From a young age L.J. Stock was led by her imagination. From the moment she could read she fell into worlds where trees could talk and little girls could move things with their minds.
In no hurry to grow up, she found stories all around her, in the forests of Plym Bridge, the moss covered hills of Dartmoor, then, as she grew older, the wide spread city of Houston, where she currently resides and works. A constant daydreamer, she hopes that one day, her passion can become something more than just a hobby for her.
Still led by her imagination, the worlds have slowly grown from childish adventures to urban fantasies and romances. With inspirational authors such as Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, John Grisham and Stephen King guiding her through her life so far, L.J. Stock has finally decided that it is time for her to go for gold and try land herself on someone else’s future list of favorites.
Putting words on paper is as essential as breathing to her, but on the rare occasions that she isn’t writing, she can be found with a video game remote in hand or curled up on the couch with her pup and a good book. Music is also such an important part of her life, it’s a wonder there isn’t a background soundtrack playing wherever she goes.
A good girl to most, a bad girl to a few, L.J. believes that every genre should be attempted and is more than likely to have tried to release three hundred series’ ranging from vampires and werewolves, to dystopian and even classic romance, before she reaches even middle age. At least, that’s the plan for now.