Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Queen of Hearts
by Colleen Oakes

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genres: YA; Retellings; Fantasy

Pages: 320

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 Dinah's 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.

This is the story of the young Princess of Wonderland, soon to become Queen of Hearts, Dinah. You would think life would be a dream for the princess. The people should dote on her, adore her as their future leader. But that is not so.

Even Dinah's father, the king, has no respect for her. Since her mother died, she has been groomed to become queen, but she wonders if she will ever be treated like one. There are only a handful of people whom she feels comfortable with--a few servants in the palace; her very timely tutor, Harris; her somewhat mad brother, Charles; and her best friend and love, the future Knave of Hearts, Wardley.

Mmk. Let's get to it. I really liked this book. Here's why. *throws list at you*

  • DINAH. I just want to squeeze her. She'd probably bite me, but still. Dinah was an imperfect, quick-tempered character and I rooted for her for the entire book. She wasn't always likeable, but I think I understood her to some degree.* Her circumstances weren't ideal and, even though she made some bad choices and quick judgments, it was easy to sympathize with her. Dinah had a lot of compassion inside of her, even if buried deep. She loves her advisor, Harris--and her feelings for Wardley leave her raw. She's so human. She could be selfish. She was unfairly harsh to her sister, Vittoire. And it was just sad to know where she was heading--glimpsing good and evil inside of her and wanting the good to win, but knowing how everything turns out in the original story.
((* I dressed up as the queen of hearts for Halloween one year, and let me tell you, screaming "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS" at random small offenses is the best. Ok, so I'm not a fan of the actual heads rolling part, but in some small way I think I understand the queen of hearts. *nods*))

  • It's kind of dark. *shrugs* This is a positive for me. There are beheadings and torture and a lot of cruelty. Evil was real and prevalent in Wonderland.
  • The mystery. I have no idea how everything is going to turn out. I thought the mystery surrounding Vittoire and the king's plans was very interesting. At the same time, though, I feel this book left me with too many questions unanswered.
  • The setting. Oakes creates a really cool and creative version of Wonderland. 

But there were also things I wasn't a fan of.

The plot was definitely lacking something. The story felt very short too. I was invested in the story, but everything happened so fast that I felt like it ended before Dinah's story truly began.

I feel like many of the characters were lacking development as well. I loved Charles and wish his character had been explored further. We know next to nothing about Vittoire. And all we know about the King is that he's a despicable and evil man who only cares about his own power. Why is he the way he is? Who knows.

I liked Wardley, most of the time. He was sweet and protective, but also confusing. I didn't really understand his motivations, and I'm not sure I want him and Dinah to get together...

As for the "enchanting stranger," he barely made an appearance. I was a little disappointed with his part in the story.

So yeah, I wish there had been more development of the plot and more complex characters, but overall I really liked Queen of Hearts. Looking forward to the next book.

If you're interested in this book, I would say give it a try.

Content warning: Heads roll.


  1. Great review! I've been seeing it around for awhile, but didn't really know the details - it sounds pretty good! :)

    1. It was good, even if it wasn't everything I expected from it, and I'm looking forward to the sequel!