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I Belong

Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Queen of HeartsTitle: Queen of Hearts

Author: Colleen Oakes

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Queen of Hearts Saga (Book #1)

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 306 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062409727 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062409720 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed


The first novel in Colleen Oakes’s epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains—the Queen of Hearts.

This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. 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.e.

Quick & Dirty: A disappointing retelling.

Opening Sentence: ”Oh, my future Queen, you’re late!”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Queen of Hearts is Dinah’s story (who knew that was her name???). We’ve all heard of her at some point, the crazy queen from Alice in Wonderland who commands the heart cards and is always screaming ‘off with their heads!’ Well, this book tells the story from her eyes and it is quite unexpected.

Dinah lives with her cruel father, the King of Hearts, and her mad brother, Charles (aka the Mad Hatter). Charles isn’t sane enough to be king and so by default Dinah is heir to the crown. She begs for her father’s love and admiration but soon realises that he is a horrible dictator and cares only for power. That wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for Vittoire, the King’s bastard daughter. He brings her into their house and she is everything Dinah is not: pretty, dainty and loved by everyone including their father.

I am a huge fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton’s take on the story and the Splintered series by A.G. Howard (a darker more punk/gothic retelling). So I hoped I would love this book as much, especially as I’ve read some positive reviews…

Sadly, the story dragged. It wasn’t until the trip to the black towers that I began feeling engaged with the storyline. I felt sorry for Dinah but I didn’t think there was anything spectacular about the plot. It felt to me like characters that were already loved by everyone we’re being reused in another story.

Cheshire was more cunning than I remembered but aside from him, none of the characters were exceptional. My love for all things Alice will continue and though the author tried to make the setting as bizarre and quirky as possible, I just didn’t think it was enough.

Notable Scene:

“Easy? It’s madness. This is a suicide mission. And for what?”

Dinah raised herself up from the bench and took his arm gently. “For the future queen to have the upper hand before her coronation. For not wondering what if? For answers that have never been given to me, and never will be. For the possibility of understanding something about this place.”

“And if I lose my head?” Wardley asked.

“Then I will be very sorry,” she said. “It is a lovely head.”

Queen of Hearts Saga:

1. Queen of Hearts

2. Blood of Wonderland


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Queen of Hearts. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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2 Responses to “Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

  1. Andria BuchananNo Gravatar

    oh man I love Alice in Wonderland stuff (my office walls are covered in Alice quotes) it’s a shame you didn’t think this “spin off retooling” was worth it.

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