Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Author: Colleen Oakes
Series: The Crown #1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
Publisher: Spark Press
Expected Publication: February 14, 2014

A Father’s Betrayal. 

A Kingdom with a Dark Secret. 

A Princess Unraveling.
For Dinah, Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, days at the palace are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, The King of Hearts. Her only relief are her visits with her childhood best friend Wardley, the future Knave of Hearts—and her heart’s greatest desire.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to burn. As her coronation date approaches, a series of bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs within the halls of Wonderland.  Driven by her furious nature, Dinah must unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the palace before she quite literally loses her head in a game of treachery against a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, readers will delight in familiar characters such as Cheshire, The White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter in Volume One of this new, dark take on Lewis Carroll’s classic story.
But readers be warned…not every fairytale has a happy ending.

For this is the story of the Princess who became a villain.
Not every fairytale has a happy ending...This is certainly true in the case of Dinah, Princess and heir to the throne of Wonderland. Abused by her Father, despised by the cards sworn to protect her, Dinah has grown up in a home without love, without warmth, save for the moments of brief bliss shared with her beloved Wardley. Since the death of her mother Dinah has only known one constant, when she becomes Queen things will change in Wonderland. However, her Father has other ideas, malicious plans all with paths that don't bode well for Dinah. Now with her Father against her and unsure whom to trust Dinah is in the fight for her life and her Crown!

What can I say except I loved this book. Queen of Hearts is a truly unique re-imagining of the world of Wonderland. If you told me I'd feel sympathy for the Queen of Hearts six months ago I'd have laughed but now... I can't help but understand how things could've went so horribly wrong in her life.

One of the best things about Queen of Hearts was the world. This isn't the Wonderland of a young girls imagination filled with singing roses and drugged out caterpillars. No, this Wonderland is like The Tudors mixed with Wicked a place as beautiful as it is terrifying. Everyone from the servants to the Royal family has an agenda and loyalties switch at the drop of a hat. It's crazy different than everything I grew up knowing and yet still familiar and almost comforting.

Another thing I loved about Queen of Hearts were the characters. No white Rabbit, instead we have Dinah's tutor Harris who is more like a Father Figure than man servant. We also have the "Mad Hatter" who also happens to be Dinah's brother Charles. His story is so tragic but it's nice to see Dinah has real love for him. Also Cheshire who isn't a cat but adviser to the King. I'm still not sure what his agenda is or whether to trust him but that's said of the original character as well. His actions were never clear but he played an important role in things nonetheless.

Lastly, I loved the incredible story telling. Queen of Hearts was fast paced, exciting, humorous and terrifying. From its blood soaked first pages to its pulse pounding last, Queen of Hearts was a fantastic read.

Final Thoughts
Queen of Hearts was a crazy exciting and enjoyable book. I've read many a retelling of Alice in Wonderland but this is the first where it focused on the Queen of Hearts and that was just so refreshing. I can't wait to see more from Dinah in the future especially since the beginning of the story is certainly an indication of things to come. Despite all my misgivings and misconceptions about the Queen of Hearts being a redeemable character going into this book I really enjoyed Dinah as a character. Sure she was hot headed, stubborn and selfish but despite all that she was simply just a girl looking for love in all the wrong places. I highly recommend picking Queen of Hearts the moment you get the chance. I suspect this is a book that will find its way onto many Favorites lists this year. Yes, it is that good! With that being said, I'll be rating Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes ★★★★★.

 *Review copy provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way  for providing them.

 About the Author
 Colleen Oakes is the author of the Elly in Bloom Series and the upcoming YA fantasy Queen of Hearts Saga, both published via Sparkpress. She lives in North Denver with her husband and son. When not writing, Colleen enjoys swimming, traveling, and immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. She is currently at work on the last Elly novel and another YA fantasy series called Wendy Darling.

You can visit her webpage at: or at her very lengthy and sometimes embarrassingly personal blog, The Ranunculus Adventures:

Follow Colleen: Twitter / Goodreads Page


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