Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Friday, February 14, 2014
Why I chose this book:
I originally picked this book because I am a huge devourer of Lewis Carrol’s work and a fanatic about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, so of course, this was something that begged to be read. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Publisher: SparkPress
Release Date: February 14, 2014
Format: ARC Galley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy: B&N | Indiebound | Amazon

Not every fairytale has a happy ending.
This is the story of a princess who became a villain.

A Father’s Betrayal. A Kingdom with a Black Secret. A Princess Slowly Unraveling. 

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. (Goodreads)
3 Things You Need to Know About this Book:

1. An uninspired piece of fan fiction. 
         I can appreciate the way Oakes created this Wonderland, I really can. It’s organization made my Type A brain happy, but I feel that it is completely opposite of Carrol’s uncanny and random setting. In his work, nothing ever made sense, and in Oakes' adaptation, she had an organization that makes far more sense and characters that are completely believable as humans. As much as I liked how she created the hierarchy of the Cards and the make up, this is fan fiction. And if you’re pretty much going to write fan fiction, you should at least have your setting and world makeup the same as the original author.

2. Writing style doesn’t match up.
         Going off of her creation of the setting, I think that her writing should match up to portray a whimsical setting, which means whimsical writing should be utilized to its fullest extent. Oakes’ writing is very plot based and driven, allowing little leeway for the magical and whimsical story to actually grip the reader. Everything makes sense. That’s not what this book should be like. This is Wonderland for Pete’s sake!

3. Dinah is an annoying protagonist/villain.
         Yes, I knew that she was going to be the villain of the future story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but I didn’t expect her to be so annoying. She was a very pessimistic character and played the victim too often for me to like her. There are villains that I love and appreciate, but she is not one of them. On the other hand, she could have been the misunderstood villain, much like Elphaba in Wicked to the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. Or even better, she could have been a smart, conniving, deviant, villain but she was neither of these things. She lacked a backbone--which made me hate her --and not for the right reasons.

Final Thoughts:
        There’s no way I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if they liked Lewis Carrol’s original work. I don’t feel like there are very many redeeming qualities when it comes to this book. Other than the reasons why I listed, I’m not sure why I absolutely hated this book, but I did. I didn’t enjoy it. It was a drag, and I hope that the next books are better just for everyone else’s sake.

I gave this book 1 star on my Goodreads.

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