Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Series: Queen of Hearts #1
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books (5th May 2016)
Dinah is a princess, the future Queen of Hearts, who will one day reign over Wonderland. Unaware of the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and to reign with the boy she loves.
But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, Dinah is launched into the dangers of Wonderland. She must stay one step ahead of her enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown, it will be off with her head!
Evil is brewing in Wonderland, and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself.
Off with his head! That has to be the most iconic line in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. I’m afraid I haven’t read that many books which were inspired by Lewis Carroll’s timeless masterpiece that was both whimsical and bursting with creativity.
I thought of giving Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes a try mainly because I needed something to whet my appetite for the main event: Heartless by Marissa Meyer which will be out later this year. I admit, I went into Queen of Hearts with low expectations because it’s got pretty mixed reviews from my friends on Goodreads but here goes! I did quite like it!
Queen of Hearts is the story about Dinah, the Princess of Hearts who has been constantly belittled by her father, the King of Hearts and to make matters worse, her brother isn’t exactly sane. Therefore, her only partner in crime and confidant is her childhood best friend, Wardley who she has been secretly loving since forever. To top things off, it is suddenly revealed that she’s got a half-sister, Vittiore, who is everything she is not.
First of all, I would just want to commend Colleen Oakes for putting such an original and clever twist to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland because it was so much fun to read about the different elements from the original story getting a refreshing twist. I don’t wish to spoil it for you, but if you think you know the original characters from the classic, you’ll have to think again when it comes to Queen of Hearts because it’s a completely different take on the classic and that was what I liked most about the book!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of Dinah because she was so full of hatred and anger but it is understandable coming from her because her father has never been kind to her. At all. She did have some redeeming factors, such as her compassion and fierce love for her brother. I would have liked the book more if the other characters were given a wider arc in the story because Queen of Hearts was quite a quick read for me. I would have liked to get to know more about Vittiore and the awful King and even Wardley, which would create an arc for more romance.
There seems to be a trend where writers are writing stories from the perspective of villains and Queen of Hearts was a great portrayal of the Queen of Hearts’s backstory. As much as I liked the book for its fantastic world building and clever take on Alice in Wonderland, I was a bit disappointed with the book’s plot because I thought it was a bit too simple and safe – though the plot twist in the end was a good play to keep the readers hooked to read the sequel.
Widely imaginative and such a treat to read, Colleen Oakes created such an original and breathtaking version of Wonderland. Queen of Hearts is part dark fantasy and part fairytale retelling which was equally enchanting and haunting.
I’d like to thank HarperCollins Children’s Books for sending me a copy for review.