The first novel in Colleen Oakes’s epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains—the Queen of Hearts. This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth. Dinah is the princess who will one day reign over Wonderland. She has not yet seen the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and a future with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, she is launched into Wonderland’s dangerous political game. Dinah must stay one step ahead of her cunning enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown but her head.
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Take a journey into Wonderland; its whimsical, a little bit crazy, a tad bit dark. But what else would you expect from the future Queen of Hearts? What could have turned a girl into a fiendish and crazy ruler?
The world building of Wonderland is awe-inspiring. As a reader who loves to dive into new worlds, I really appreciated all the touches, little and big, that the author put into Wonderland. Things are not as you would expect. The palace is an architectural wonder, surrounded by an iron wall made of hearts. It is a nontraditional retelling, without an Alice. Do not expect a fluffy White Rabbit. Do not expect the grinning psychedelic Cheshire Cat from your favorite childhood book. Colleen Oakes gives new and unexpected identities to well known childhood characters including; the Mad Hatter, the Walrus, and the Knave of Hearts. I love the fact that there is a King of Hearts, and the Cards are actually various ranks of soldiers.- It adds a realistic hierarchy to a well known topsy-turvy and crazy world.
Dinah, the future Queen of Hearts, finds herself questioning the only thing she has every known- her family and her kingdom. She Dinah takes upon herself to find out the truth. But secrets can be tricky and secrets can bring danger. Left with only riddles, Dinah suddenly finds herself the prime target.
What I like best: Dinah’s journey has it all. There’s betrayal and humor. Dinah not only goes on a quest of discovery but must battle some internal conflicts as well. Oakes places layers and layers of deception and secrets that moves the plot along at a pretty quick pace towards the end.
The Queen of Hearts is a fun read for those who love retellings and hearing the story from a different perspective. Highly recommended for readers who love watching Once Upon a Time.
Twists and turns in plot
This Is The Story About A Princess Who Becomes A Villain.
Queen of Hearts does the job well in showcasing the driving forces that shape the nature of Dinah. At fifteen, she is awkward and self-conscious, lacking the grace and confidence her father, the King of Hearts, expects from her. Though Dinah comes across as young and spoiled, readers will sympathize with her as her father is often harsh and verbally abusive. Dinah only seeks her father's love and approval, and when a mysterious half-sister, Vittore, arrives in Wonderland Court under strange circumstances and is suddenly the center of all of all her father's attention - well, you can see the wheels in motion as Dinah begins to trust no one. Although there isn't any indication that she means any harm towards Dinah, in fact, she seems caught in her own precarious predicament, Vittore's arrival causes much jealousy and anger on Dinah's part.
By the end of the story, we see a much stronger and resilient protagonist. Heartache, betrayal, and the unrequited love are all forces that seem to drive Dinah into action. I cannot help but be curious as how Dinah, soon to be the Queen of Hearts, will turn out. Villainess or a perfectly, imperfect heroine?
Vivid Setting And Twisty Characters
The vivid setting of Wonderland and the unique twist Colleen Oakes puts on the characters are one of the story's strong points. I especially enjoyed the spin put on The Mad Hatter, who in this version is the adored older brother Charles. The hat making sequences are an almost sensory overload. Then there is the Cheshire, the king's advisor, and all the kings guards - the card suits, The White Rabbit, Dinah's tutor and guardian who's always worried about being late. With an underground labyrinth of tunnels and the dark and twisted Black Towers, alongside the peculiar and strange, the setting of Queen of Hearts is captivating.
"There are many curious things in Wonderland Palace and the Black Towers.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “You had best learn everything you do not already know, Princess. Up until now you have been a spoiled girl who spends her days playing in the stables or making doe eyes at Wardley Ghane. Wonderland is a much darker and more twisted place than you imagine.”
The Writing Kept Me Invested, I Just Wanted More Direction.
The one aspect that could have been stronger is the direction of the story. We have political intrigue, strange occurrences in the Black Towers, the King of Hearts cruelty, and the mysterious Vittore - yet, the plot struggles with identity as readers wonder what is Dinah's goal. The writing kept me invested, I just wanted more direction.
In The End
Queen of Hearts is an imaginative story that is far from being over nor happily ever after, featuring a heroine on the path to becoming possibly a villain. A twisty world filled with odd characters and vivid writing make it a fast and enjoyable read.