Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

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Wonderland is a much darker and more twisted place than you can imagine.

Meet Dinah, otherwise known as the future evil queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Ever wondered how she became that way? Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes goes on a journey to tell us how.

Dinah is the future queen of Wonderland. Her whole life has been spent preparing for the day when she will rule, and every day is as ordinary as the next. Things change during the days leading up to her coronation. Something sinister and evil lurks in the whimsical Wonderland, and Dinah must act quickly or her head will literally roll.

“OFF WITH HER HEAD!” she screamed.

Oh dear. What could have happened to make Dinah turn into the cruel monster we’ve grown up knowing her to be? The answer is lots of anger, hatred, and betrayal. She did not start out that way. Once upon a time, she was a naïve girl who wanted to be queen, desperate for her wicked father’s approval. The best part of this book is watching this young girl unravel into a bloodthirsty queen, and it is a magnificent unraveling, told wonderfully by the author. I love the mystery. I love the dark atmosphere. I love where it leaves the reader off – wanting to know more and itching for the next installment in the series. Since this book is about the descent into darkness of Dinah, let’s spend some time talking about her.

“Things are going to change for you, child, and you had better be made of stronger stuff than the whiny brat you seem to be now.”

Dinah is not without flaws. At the start, she is downright annoying, but she grows as a character. I can’t bring myself to like her, but I do respect her (at least, presently). She is spoiled and whiny, but she is fiercely loyal to the people she cares for and her kingdom, and that is an admirable quality. She wants to change Wonderland. She wants to be a better ruler than her awful father. It saddens me to think of what I know is to happen to her character, but at the same time, it is definitely intriguing.

“The more executions she had witnessed, the harder her heart had become.”

Even though she does have good points, it is not difficult to see her becoming an evil queen. She holds grudges. She hates with a passion. She is bitter from the lack of love and the abuse from her father and the betrayals that just keep coming. Yes, I can totally see her being an evil queen.

Moving on to the world Oakes has beautifully painted for us. Wow, is it magnificent. It is whimsical. It is twisted. It is brilliant. Her descriptions evoke the perfect atmosphere for this book. Wonderland is a fairytale, but it is also a nightmare.

“The rules of Wonderland decreed that a child couldn’t witness an Execution Day until her or she was ten years old. Until then, it was just a lavish day filled with gifts and celebrations – a reprieve from her constant lessons.”

The lavishness of the palace and the royal family with all its ornate furniture and sweet deserts is often mixed with the brutality of beheadings. Yikes. Because what everyone wants to do while watching someone’s head get chopped off is to eat tarts.Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that.

“Off with their heads!” screamed out a shrill voice from the back of the courtyard. “Off with their heads, off with their heads!” the crowd echoed, growing louder and louder, until the very ground rumbled with the sound.

The fascination these Wonderlanders have with beheadings is a bit creepy. Just a tad.

I am very much looking forward to the next installment.

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2 comments on “Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

  1. Great review!! I’ve been reading a lot of dark fairytale retellings lately, and Queen of Hearts looks to be a perfect book to add to my TBR pile.

    Thanks so much for the follow!

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