Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Review: Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1)

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Author: Colleen Oakes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 306 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Only queens with hearts can bleed.

This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. There is no all-knowing cat with a taunting smile. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth.

Dinah is the princess who will one day reign over Wonderland. She has not yet seen the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and a future with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, she is launched into Wonderland’s dangerous political game. Dinah must stay one step ahead of her cunning enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown but her head.

Evil is brewing in Wonderland and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself.

This is not a story of happily ever after.

This is the story of the Queen of Hearts.



Protagonist: Dinah is the future Queen of Hearts, when she comes of age she will take her place next to her spiteful and hate-filled father until she marries. This is a responsibility Dinah has prepared her entire life for. However, when her father introduces a newly discovered illegitimate daughter to the people of Wonderland, it sends Dinah snowballing into discoveries of the dangerous political games she never fully understood before. Dinah is a very likable character, a girl who hasn't yet been tainted by the world and has a very optimistic outlook on life. However, as the story progresses she is exposed to the seedy underbelly of Wonderland and her eyes are open for the first time to what being Queen one day will mean. We don't see much about the telltale Queen of Hearts from the Alice in Wonderland story, but it's obvious that something is awakening within Dinah, something that could ignite her change from sweet naive girl to the bloodthirsty Queen of Hearts.

Romance: So, there is romance in this book, though honestly not that much of it. Throughout the book Dinah has feelings for her childhood friend, Wardley, but they've never really discussed their relationship or their feelings for one another. Dinah dreams of marrying him and for him to become her king and save her from having to rule alongside her father, but not much comes from it, in this book at least. There are moments when I truly do like them together and think they would make a good couple, but there isn't a lot of romantic tension or really any actual chemistry there.

World Building: So, I've read this book before, when it was published by SparksPress, and on the whole, my feelings for the book remain the same, especially when it comes to the lack of "wonder" in this Wonderland. There are no talking animals, no nonsensical whimsy, it just feels like a standard fantasy world with a few differences from our world, such as pink snowfall. That being said it is a rather interesting fantasy tale, but on the whole, it's hard to find the connective tissue between this story and the Alice in Wonderland tale many of us are familiar with.

Predictability: Like I said, I've read this story before and honestly there isn't all that much difference between the two versions of this story. There's an extended epilogue and possibly a few more small changes, though I'm not entirely sure since it's been a while since I first read this tale. If you want to read my initial thoughts on the predictability of this story click here.

Ending: So, like I said there's an extended epilogue to this tale that honestly doesn't add all that much extra, though we'll see if/how it entwines with the second installment, but on the whole, the ending is really well executed. There are really climactic and tension-filled scenes near the ending that seems like it would have been the perfect place to end the story, but the author takes it a bit farther and ends in a more plateaued place that helps to set up the next leg of this journey and catapult our heroine into the right place to be.


So, my rating hasn't changed since I first reviewed the story, though instead of leaving off half a star for the pacing, which didn't bother me at all this time, though I've read the story before, but the fact that it's so hard to connect this to a familiar Wonderland, and if the author had just changed a few names and basic world building things this could have been a completely different world.


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