Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes.

Hey everyone, as you all know by now I cannot resist picking up a book with a pretty cover, and the Queen of Hearts was no exception, the cover is lovely and definitely drew me in.

I really enjoyed this book when reading it (although at the time I was relived to be taking a break from another book I’m reading at the minute) and I enjoyed venturing to Wonderland only this time with Dinah instead of Alice. Prior to reading this novel the only retelling that I’ve read was Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, which left me wanting to read more retellings. However although  I enjoyed this novel I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed by the lack of Wonderland present in Carroll’s original novel.

Even though this novel was set in Wonderland; this isn’t the Wonderland we’ve been acquainted with in Carroll’s novel (which I was initially disappointed by) this Wonderland is darker and more sinister as we venture down the rabbit hole into the life of the Queen of Hearts. If you had told me a few months ago that I’d feel sorry for the Queen of Hearts I would probably have laughed, but that’s exactly what this novel did.

Although I was really impressed by the way that Colleen Oakes wove the original characters into this retelling; from the Mad Hatter to the Cheshire Cat (although in this adaptation they’re all human). However I wish it hadn’t been so obvious which character from the original novel they were supposed to portray (for instance the Chesire Cat inspired cat is called Cheshire). Personally I would’ve enjoyed guessing more before being told, with a few subtle hints along the way.  However I did enjoy all the other references to Carroll’s wonderland novel like the ‘eat me’ on the loaf.

The main character is Dinah; who grows up to be The Queen of Hearts, honestly I found her quite annoying and spoilt (far too often she uses her position as Queen and wealth to get out of sticky situations, I would’ve preferred it if she found another way out instead of just saying; “I’m the Princess, do as I say or I’ll have your head chopped off”). Oh, and of course she naturally has a crush on the other protagonist in the novel because let’s not forget that this is still YA. However I did sympathise with Dinah; it can’t have been easy having a dad that hated you or a step-sibling that was seemingly perfect.

One character I really loathed was the main villain of the story: the King of Hearts (but then you’re supposed to hate the villain aren’t you?). I think the King makes Voldemort look like a softie, but my problem is that I couldn’t sympathize with him, (whereas with Voldemort you understand why he became so evil). Hopefully in a future novel we’ll get some sort of backstory (or even a novella).

His relationship with Dinah reminded me of the King’s relationship with Maxon in The Selection Series (villainous kings seem to be a growing trend in YA fiction).  Why does he hate Dinah so much? Why is he so possessive of the crown?

Overall this novel was good, but there were far too many unanswered questions at the end of the novel for my liking, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for the sequel.

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