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What: Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1) by Colleen Oakes

Who: HarperCollins Children’s Books

When: May 5th 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Harper Collins Australia for review.

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 Dinah’s 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.

3cats2Things I Liked:

1) The world.

The world in Queen of Hearts is quite different to any other Wonderland that I have read about. Most likely because it focuses on just Heart Castle, and what happens in there and in the immediate city surrounds. It was quite interesting to see this more tame (in a way) version of Wonderland, and I found myself enjoying seeing a new side to the place I have grown to know so well.

2) Dinah.

I certainly didn’t adore her, but I did want things to end up in a positive way for her. It’s also sad knowing that she turns into a heinous banshee at some point in the series and her life.

3) The nods to the original story.

It seems as if Queen of Hearts is somewhat of an alternate version of Wonderland, even though it focuses on a character in the original story. What I mean by this is that Cheshire is the king’s right hand (seedy as hell) man, the White Rabbit is Dinah’s tutor, and that the Mad Hatter is actually Dinah’s brother (bless his cotton soul). I thought that these were an interesting way to weave original characters into a new version of the story.

Things I Didn’t Like So Much:

1) The romance.

I knew from the get go that Wardley was never going to actually be in love with Dinah. Even though he is only on the page with Dinah’s half sister once, I already knew that she was the person he was in love with, not Dinah. I didn’t really mind because I wasn’t the hugest fan of him, anyway. I just hope that Wardley not being in love with Dinah and instead being in love with the sister she hates is not the catalyst for her turning evil. That would be shit.

2) Dinah’s father + his actions.

I really loathed Dinah’s father, and the way he physically and emotionally abuses her throughout the entire novel. He dotes on Vittiore (the half sister) in an extreme way, and treats Dinah really awfully. I didn’t enjoy reading this, and I didn’t feel as the issue and its effect on Dinah were explored well enough, either.

3) The plot.

I never truly felt a sense of urgency to the plot until the end of the novel, when Dinah is on the run. The rest of it is pretty much Dinah trying to unravel a mystery – but what that mystery is … I still don’t know. I’m hoping that both these elements will be improved upon in the second book.


Overall, I did end up enjoying Queen of Hearts. While it wasn’t perfect, I am certainly willing to keep reading the series as I think the evolution of Dinah’s character will be an interesting one to see unravel.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: domestic violence, torture, ableism (mentalism), rape, and prison violence (guard-inmate) in this novel

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Posted on: August 19, 2016 • By: Chiara

15 Responses to Conflicting Feels About Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

  1. Sam Frost says:

    I’ve heard mixed things about this one, although your review does make me curious to see whether I’ll enjoy it or not. Great review!

  2. Rachana says:

    Good review but I’m still not sure whether I should bother reading this book haha. I was originally intrigued because it seems like a cool retelling but like Sam (the previous commenter) said, I’ve heard mixed things about this.

    • Chiara says:

      Thank you! I think this is one that you either like or don’t like. There were enough aspects that I enjoyed to swing me to the “like” side, though. I guess you won’t know if you like it unless you read it, Rachana!

  3. Thanks for your honest thoughts! I think this is the first review I’ve seen of this one. It seems like an imaginative world, and I’m definitely intrigued by that. I DO hope that Dinah doesn’t turn evil over a boy not loving her because that would definitely not be a cool way to go.


    • Chiara says:

      No problem! Let me know if you decide to read it, Lauren! Yes, I am really hoping that it doesn’t turn out to be that because I would be thoroughly disappointed.

  4. I’m glad this one still mostly worked for you! I just…I was really disappointed with the Wonderland aspect, tbh. It didn’t even feel like Wonderland! It just felt like an average fantasy story, because where was all the Wonderland bizarre and beautifulness?!? Sheesh. So that kind of ruined it for me haha. And yeah, the father was just weird. I mean, he hated Dinah, but I don’t think it really talked enough about the whys. Dude was very very awful at any rate.😳

    • Chiara says:

      Me, too! I can see why you would have been disappointed, if you went in expecting it to be the usual Wonderland! I had read a few reviews beforehand, so I kinda knew that it wasn’t going to be like, so my expectations were different. Ohmygosh, I know. He was such a terrible father and character :/

  5. I am so glad you liked this one so much! I love retellings, so I am glad that this lived up to your expectations. I’m definitely going to have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • Chiara says:

      There were definitely aspects that I wanted more elaboration on, but for the most part I did like it! I hope you do, too, if you get around to reading it, Zoe :D I am a sucker fore retellings, haha XD Thank you, lovely!

  6. Clara Cheng says:

    Have been hearing mixed reviews about this book and I’m a little hesitant to pick this up. Huhu. It’s sad though, because it really seems promising.

  7. Valerie says:

    I read this a long time ago, but I also noticed that the plot wasn’t really there until way later. Also I’m really sad about Dinah’s father. He really was the worst.

  8. Romi says:

    It’s really neat to read your thoughts on this (I WISH I WAS BETTER AT READING AND COMMENTING ON POSTS I AM V SORRY CHIARA), because we do so rarely read books around the same time- we can still discuss the things we liked and disliked, obviously, and chat bookish in general, but the finer points can get lost with time and that hasn’t happened here! So basically? I’m excited about this post! *cheers* (There’s so much cheering in my comments on your blog today. One of us likes cheering and one of us (you) is cheer worthy. Or maybe both of us are. *cheers some more anyhow*)

    I was very much not a fan of Wardley, or Dinah’s infatuation with him, especially since there didn’t seem to be a huge basis for it? He was nice, but always vaguely disinterested. She was clearly in love with him, but he didn’t do anything about it (apart from kiss her, in a flashback that wasn’t explained at all)- and I definitely felt like he was in love with Vittiore, pretty much as soon as you saw how he acted around Dinah and how he acted around her, that one time. I do wish Vittiore, and Dinah, too, had had much more character development. One of them everyone loves- why?- and one of them everyone kinda doesn’t- why?- it was like we were told, but I wanted to see an actual explaination for that.

    I’m definitely in agreement on the mystery and the fact… we don’t really know what it is we’re being mystified by. For me, that was frustrating. I wasn’t a fan of the fact we spend the whole novel with Dinah impassioned about this thing she doesn’t know a jot about, getting one very vague clue, and by the end we know about as much as we started. I mean, I have ideas, but I also don’t plan on reading the sequel so I don’t know if they’ll be what turns out or not.

    I was confused by the fact the characters we know from the original were present but in different forms, and I was confused for… much too long. *snorts* I kept wondering if something would happen and they’d all change form, but then the thing happens with Charles and I realised it wasn’t going to be like that. But it was kinda neat- I think I’d have appreciated that much more if I’d understood it earlier on, instead of waiting and expecting something else for such a long time?

    I do hope you end up getting the answers to some of your questions in the next book (I think there are going to be 3?) and that Dinah’s progression to a “henious banshee” (AKA best and ost accurate term) isn’t because of her crush not liking her back, which *would* be a bit of a disappointment. Unless he abandoned her on the alter or after a massive, worlds changing profession of love or something. Although, she seems a very fragile character, so I guess it could be as realitic that the small thing tips her, and I suppose with every person their turning point, it can be big or small. Maybe that won’t tip her all the way into Red Queen, but it could set it off. That whole aspect of her character growth interests me, but unfortunately not enought to continue with the series.

    Lovely review! xx

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