Looking forward to the villain growing into her own, or my review for Queen of Hearts

queen of hearts

Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1)

By: Colleen Oakes

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016

Format: ARC


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.

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3 star (dragon)

I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I love a good retelling. I mainly prefer fairytale retellings, but I do have a certain weakness for anything Alice in Wonderland. So Queen of Hearts with its focus on the villain, another retelling trope I love, was a must read.

My favorite part of retellings? Seeing how well the author differentiates from the source work and how well they pay homage to the original story. Colleen does this well, Chesire is just as conving and double speaking as the king’s advisor, Harris is quite rabbit like and equally devoted to being on time, and there are references to Tweedle Dee and Dum in Vittiore’s ladies in waiting. Most of all, there is the Mad Hatter reflected in Dinah’s brother and his creations and a hint of Alice in Vittiore.

What I liked best about Queen of Hearts was the relationship Dinah has with her brother, Charles. He is insane and doesn’t always remember Dinah herself, but her devotion to him and her desire for his well being is sweet and compelling. While the relationship, with Charles’ insanity meaning he has a certain disconnect from reality, may seem one sided, there is a gesture that he makes towards Dinah later in the book that is very sweet and very him and very much relays how much he cares for his sister.

The most frustrating part of the book was Dinah’s relationship with her father. He constant desire for his approval, despite voicing her hate for him, was horrible to read. He abuses her physically and verbally, and obviously cares little for her, yet she only stands up to him a few times. He is so obviously not deserving of her love, so why does she insisting on giving it so freely? On top of this, she is honestly surprised when she finds out that he hates her enough to frame her for her brother’s murder and wishes to kill her as well. The one good aspect of this is that the reader builds up an adequate amount of dislike for the king that Colleen’s writing stimulates. In addition to this, the frustration and dislike for the idiotic and naive Vittiore is something that Colleen evokes rather masterfully, leaving the reader firmly on Dinah’s side despite her own naivety.

As for the love interest, he was underwhelming to say the least. I honestly don’t even know if you can consider him a love interest as Dinah’s pursuit of him seemed one-sided. She is the one who kissed him and proclaimed her love for him and he just didn’t respond or kind of ignored it. Given that, and one example where he states that it would be much worse if he lost his life than if she did, I couldn’t get behind Dinah’s devotion to Wardley, or even understand it. In fact, Wardley’s lack of response yet his continued attempts to remain in Dinah’s good graces made his actions rather suspect. Here’s hoping that future books provide a better love interest.

Given Dinah’s weakness as a character, Wardley’s weakness as a human being, and my favorite character ending up with a light case of deadness, Queen of Hearts fell short of expectations. There is enough of a world to build on and enough promise in the plot, that I will try the future to see how Dinah grows and becomes the vicious Red Queen of Hearts she needs to be.

emily name

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. A review copy was provided by Around the World ARC Tours.

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