{Review/Giveaway} QUEEN OF HEARTS by Colleen Oakes

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1)
    OH, MY FUTURE QUEEN, you're late!" Harris hopped from one foot to the other, his plump face soaked with a cold sweat. He pulled off his thick-rimmed glasses and wiped them on his white checkered ascot. "Dinah! Walk faster, Your Highness! We are late, late late!" He looked down at his pocket watch with an exaggerated sigh. 

Dinah, Princess of Wonderland, and future Queen of Hearts, rolled her eyes.

"Harris, I'm walking as swiftly as I can."

"With all due respect, my dear, we have a very important summons from the King of Hearts. Your father wishes to see you. You know he is not a patient man."

(Pages 1-2, US hardcover edition)

No that's not it. Show me brave Dinah. Dinah the fearless, the future Queen of Wonderland, the future Queen of Hearts. 


The thing you have to prep yourself for going into any retelling, is that each author is going to do something different with the world they are rearranging. There are some Wonderland retellings out there that keep the aspects of magical, quirky, insanity, and riddlish conversation, and those are great stories. But what I loved the most about QUEEN OF HEARTS by Colleen Oakes was that she stripped Wonderland down to a world more parallel on its own. At it's core this book is a tale of political intrigue, world building, and the way a young frightened mind still trying to find its footing deals with betrayal and the pressure of a crown that is meant to rest on their head.

Of course there are still head nods to the things we loved about the original tale. The cards themselves are more an abstract titling system, Hearts have a specific place in this world, Spades do as well, it's a hierarchy and the Hearts are the ruling royal family. Harris's character takes on the role of the white rabbit, human but bearing that nervous fear of lateness and a pocket watch that tells you who he's based off of. The Cheshire Cat takes his place as Cheshire, her father's royal advisor, there's even a part where Dinah is given a cake that says EAT ME, though in this world it doesn't make her larger.

I have to say that I adore the fact our main character's name is Dinah, a title given to Alice's cat in the original series. And to me Dinah is a bit of a cat-like character, a bit coy when it comes to socialization, inquisitive and ready to latch onto something that intrigues her, claws bared. In terms of character she is my favorite kind, seemingly unremarkable as the story opens. She's not so spoiled and bratty that I immediately hate her and expect an insane amount of character growth for her character, but there's definitely a sense of privilege and that there are aspects of the world she's never been introduced to. At the same time she is a character with a fierce capacity for loyal love and kindness, seen in the exchanges between herself and her brother, who in his madness has become known as the Mad Hatter.  In essence I like to label Dinah as a question mark character, with the potential to become righteous hero or darkly scorned villain, and in the interim she's a bit gray at times. Which I like, that her path isn't laid out for her right from the getgo.

The story is a fast read, there's a lot of action, and it feels like this book's main purpose is to build up the world and serve as an appetizer of sorts. I grew to really love the characters, as I do with most books, and I liked how much time was spent on the little details of the plot itself, things that made it feel more real to me. Oakes has definitely created a version of Wonderland I anticipate revisiting when the sequel comes out, and if you're a fan of that court intrigue, who do I trust, sort of vibe I really think QUEEN OF HEARTS is a story you will enjoy.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( There are hints of a burgeoning romance between Dinah and another character, but the plot is much more focused on action and intrigue, so there isn't much romance actively acted upon. )
Language: PG13  No cursing but I'm keeping it at 13 just because the language itself gets violent in nature)
Violence:  PG13 Violence occurs but is not lingered on any longer than necessary. )
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The stark white background and the contrasting imagery is immediately eye catching. The cover isn't too busy but there are little details, like the black drops dripping from the hearts along the edges. The whole playing card theme is just perfect, especially the way Dinah's body sort of messily smears off like she's unfinished.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Colleen Oakes
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Recieved: Purchased


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.



During A Week of Wonderland,
We're giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be QUEEN OF HEARTS!

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