Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Series: Queen of Hearts
On Sale Date: May 3, 2016,
Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
HarperTeen,  320 pages
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: ARC from Publisher
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As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath. 

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Imaginative and vivid, The Queen of Hearts is the first book in Colleen Oakes' Queen of Hearts series which is set in the fantastic world of (pre) Alice in Wonderland. It gives readers a new perspective of the infamous Queen of Hearts coming from the young voice of Dinah, princess, and heir to the throne of Wonderland.

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.