Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Book One of the Queen of Hearts Saga
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I had no idea this was an actual retelling/story based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland! For some reason, I thought this was a prequel trilogy to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Either way, I was on board with this book. I didn't know much about it beforehand (which isn't a bad thing, in this case). Obviously I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped, but it was worth my time, and I think I may read the next book (and perhaps the third) in the series.
Dinah is the crown princess of Wonderland, the next Queen of Hearts. Her mother died years ago, leaving Dinah and her mad younger brother Charles with the King of Hearts (their father, and King of Wonderland). But the King has never liked Dinah - in fact, he has always hated her. When the King introduces a complete stranger to the palace, and says that she is his daughter and a Duchess of Wonderland, Dinah cannot accept this. Her new half-sister is pretty and fragile and delicate, and not at all like Dinah (or Charles). But there is something afoot in Wonderland, and it's all coming down to Dinah's coronation as Queen.
Dinah was a hot and cold character for me - sometimes I liked her, sometimes I didn't. In the very beginning, she's a bit spoiled and spineless, always afraid of her father but also trying to impress him. This is before he brings her half-sister Vittiore to the palace (fyi, I do not for a second buy this - that Vittiore is his daughter). When this happens, Dinah is pretty enraged. She absolutely hates Vittiore, especially because their father dotes on Vittiore and now openly hates Dinah. To Dinah, it's clear that Vittiore is weaseling her way into Dinah's place as Queen of Hearts. Right?
I liked Dinah more when she was enraged and ready to rip off her sister's head (sorry! It's true!). She seemed less ditsy and naive, and more aware and demanding (like a queen should be). Finally Dinah starts acting more like the queen she hopes to be, with more spine and fire. This Dinah, I liked.
I never read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, so I really can't draw parallels from the original to this story, with a few exceptions. Cheshire is Dinah's father's chief adviser, and a slimy, deceitful man. The White Rabbit is Harris, Dinah's tutor and guardian. I have no idea who Wardley would be in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but Wardley is a boy that Dinah grew up with, whom she is in love with (sadly, I'm pretty sure he thinks of her as a sister). The Mad Hatter is Charles, Dinah's younger brother. He's insane and he makes cool hats.
I think I enjoyed the story, once I got into it (that took a while though). There is an undercurrent of dread woven throughout the story, and we slowly start to see Wonderland's issues as the story goes on. I was pretty invested and rooting for Dinah more towards the end. The end is not entirely shocking, but it's not a safe and "happy" ending. We can't expect the happy ending since this is the first book in a trilogy (I think it's a trilogy?), but the ending is cliffhanger-y. Which is why I'm curious enough to want to read the next book - the cliffhanger has me hooked! Agh!
What I Did Not Like:
Things I didn't really like: at first, I didn't like Dinah. She's spoiled and naive and so clearly trying to please her father, a father that does not love or even like her. He wants her off the throne, that's for sure. I wanted to punch him! And Vittiore too - she seems innocent, but I personally think she isn't the King's daughter at all (this is my *opinion*, and not something concrete). I had been hoping that Dinah would have Vittiore meet an untimely (or perhaps timely) end! Whoops?
The beginning of this book, maybe up until fifty percent, was pretty boring. I wasn't interested, I wasn't invested, I was barely paying attention. I'm not sure it has anything to do with my not having read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but there is that. Things started to get good when Dinah had a real purpose!
Hopefully we get to see more from the romance? I'd love to see Dinah have SOMETHING positive in her life - she has it bad, from start to finish (especially at the end of this book)!
I think the King, and Vittiore, and Dinah's hatred of them (which was justified) kind of poisoned the story for a while, but once the story grew to be about more than the King and Vittiore, I started to get more invested.
Would I Recommend It:
Ehhh. Well. This book was kind of meh for me. I'm giving it three stars, but I'm not sure I'd specifically recommend it. It's not that good, but it's not terrible either. If you weren't already interested, then it really might not be worth the time! The fantasy aspect is cool, and it seems like a good retelling (I can't really comment on that though, since I never read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), but ehhh. Not a life-changing or must-read book.
3 stars. I actually think I want to read the next book - especially since it's technically already available (the first two books in the series were published by indie/small press before HarperCollins picked it up). I wonder if I could rustle up a copy of book two, somewhere on the Internet...
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!
I didn't download this one off EW because it didn't really speak to me and I'm glad I didn't because I don't think I'd be able to get past the boring first 50% and the bratty heroine. I'm glad that there were still parts you liked!ReplyDelete
Thanks as always for saving me from "meh" books! :D
I think it's worth skipping, honestly! I want to continue with the series but I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book. ^_^Delete
I'm intrigued because of the Wonderland tie-in and the palace intrigue. I can see why it might have been a hard slog with the snotty heroine and slow start. (Alice in Wonderland can be slow, too).ReplyDelete
I want to read the original story at some point! We'll see how that goes. :DDelete
I'm quite intrigued about this one because Alice retellings are one of the few that usually always attract me, given my love of all things Wonderland! I think I need to give this one a try!ReplyDelete
I hope you enjoy it, Pili!Delete
Hmm...interesting. I was curious about this one as well. I actually thought this was a prequel to Alice in Wonderland. But now I'm not sure. Maybe it is, from things your describing, I feel like it might be. Because it seems Dinah, or our Queen of Hearts, isn't Queen yet and that maybe this does lead us to how she takes over the throne.ReplyDelete
I liked the Alice in Wonderland story. Wasn't a huge fan, but I did find it interesting, but this one has me hesitating now. Maybe I'll just wait and see for more reviews or just check the library later on.
Great review all the same!
See, I thought that as well! We must have been misinformed at some point. o.O If you end up reading this book, I hope you like it, Jessica!Delete
Thank you. <3
I'm a BIG fan of Alice in Wonderland retellings/spinoffs. The Splintered Series by AG Howard is one of my favorites! so i was sad to see you only gave this 3 stars! but thanks for being honest! maybe the next book will turn out for the better!ReplyDelete
Happy reading! and thanks for the honest review!
Emily @ www.rabbitholereviews.com
I'm glad you enjoy these retellings! I hope you like this one, Emily. =)Delete
Wow that's sad when the first 50% is boring. I think I'll pass on this one. Thanks for the great review!ReplyDelete
That's a smart idea, Erin. You're welcome!Delete
Awesome review Alyssa. <3 Yay for liking this one :) But ugh. I'm sorry it was a bit disappointing. And just meh. Not a good thing. I'm not reading this one. Because I'm waiting for Heartless by Marissa Meyer :) Which has a plot almost like this one, and I don't want this book to ruin Heartless for me, lol :D But you are making me curious, even so. Thank you for sharing. <3ReplyDelete
It was pretty meh indeed! I wouldn't recommend it. OH! I didn't know Heartless was an Alice retelling. I hope we both enjoy that one. ^_^Delete
I appreciate this great review, Alyssa. I've been on the fence about reading this, but now I'm thinking it just may not be for me. I'll wait until I'm REALLY in the mood for this type of read before giving this one a go. Great review, sweets! :)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Lisa! If you read it, I hope you enjoy it!Delete
I haven't read Alice in Wonderland either, but with so many retellings coming out (including TWO Queen of Hearts origin stories), I'm thinking maybe I should give it a try!ReplyDelete
There ARE a lot of Alice retellings around! If you end up reading this one, I hope you like it, Kelly. =)Delete
I haven't really read too many fairy tale retellings. I am really only familiar with Disney's Alice and to be honest even that usually puts me to sleep. I will probably skip this one since it was just kind of meh for you. Great review!ReplyDelete
I haven't seen the movie! I'm a complete newb when it comes to Alice. But this one wasn't terrible, but also not that good either. But that's okay! Thank you, Carole. ^_^Delete
Great Review Alyssa I haven't read Alice In Wonderland either but I have read re-telling's of the book. Now I was kind of iffy with this book because it never really grab my attention. I can't tell you why this book didn't grab my attention it just didn't. I just had a feeling this was not my kind of book, and now after reading your review. I am glad and happy my gut feeling was right. I don't think I will give this book even a try. Even though I do love Alice In Wonderland Re-Telling's I just think this book is not my type of book that I would like or enjoy. Thank you for your awesome post Alyssa.ReplyDelete
Your gut feeling was on point! I'm not sure that this is one for you.Delete
Thank YOU, Katiria!
I also got the arc on EW but still haven't read it. I love Alice in W but... Now, I'm not so sure.... 😜ReplyDelete
Thanks for reviewing this for us Alyssa... I may place this in the nit priority TBR pile.. LOL. Although.... I can't wait for Marissa Meyer's Heartless which is also a QoH prequel
Not priority is the right mindset for this one, in my opinion! I probably wouldn't have downloaded it if I had known what to expect (i.e. this). But that's okay! I'm looking forward to reading Heartless too. :DDelete
You were spot on Alyssa with this book! I hesitate reading 3 stars books you review just because it may not be worth my time but I decided to give this one a try because it is about Alice in Wonderland. You were so right about Dinah.. i liked it when she was tough and smart ass and hated her when she was cowering with her father and his horrible treatment of her and she still wants to rule with him!?!I am curious to see what happens to her next so I guess I will end up reading the next one. Very disappointed with the romance.. not much of it. It's a very dark story and I'm afraid that the future books will continue the theme. Thanks for all your reviews! Love reading them!ReplyDelete
Oh! Thank you! It seems like you enjoyed this one more than I did - which is AWESOME! You'll let me know how book two goes when you read it. I certainly wanted more romance as well! :/Delete
Thank you so much! <3333