Hello happy readers. Today I’d like to discuss with you a book I got for review and the original post is at No BS Book Reviews here, and that book is Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes.
Queen of Hearts follows the Princess of Wonderland and future Queen of Hearts, Dinah, who spends her days trying to keep it together through the vicious humiliations and threats of the King of Hearts, her father. Her one place of happiness is visiting her childhood friend, and love of her life, Wardley, the future Knave of Hearts. The pretty horrid pattern of her life is upset as a stranger comes to the palace and her life and everything she’d been looking forward to starts to slip away. Dinah is left to figure out the truth to the mysteries that lurk within the palace before she loses everything, including her head. Its part fantasy and party fairy tale in the first book of a series that looks at familiar and new characters we remember.
Okay so I’m a little confused on this. Maybe I should first say I really enjoyed it. It’s the publication that confuses me a little but from what I gathered it is not a “new” book as it was originally published a couple years back along with book two in the series but that this ARC “new release” is the re-release with a new and larger publisher. That’s awesome and I love the new cover! Plus hopefully since I’ve seen the reviews for the original sequel on Goodreads that means we won’t have to wait as long to get our hands on it. Here’s hoping anyways.
Back to the really enjoying it part. I have always been a fan of fairy tales and all the retellings that have been happening and becoming more prevalent the last few years have been so much fun for me. Seeing something classic that I love and seeing a new side of it. The Queen of Hearts has always been this vicious and evil figure but seeing before that to when she was merely a princess is rather interesting. I’m a firm believer that everyone has a backstory and the best stories always flush one out, especially villains.
Dinah isn’t perfect she is a bit spoiled and while intelligent she isn’t quick to look for answers; still she is feisty and has a big heart. There are small hints of the Queen I know from different tales, a bit of a temper and snark. Her adoration to her mad hat maker brother transposed from what we see of her and her father is what really pulls you into her corner. Other characters of interest for me, her brother Charles, Cheshire the advisor (and not a cat), and Wardley. The King is rather complex and intriguing like the world and the towers but because they are dark and evil yet still make you want to know more.
Throughout we start to see what Dinah has been dealing with and how the addition of a new guest starts to ring in a change for her, and not in a good way. The mystery begins to unravel as the closer they come to her coronation, where Dinah is to rule beside her father until she weds and rules with her husband, and Dinah must start to make sense of it all before she loses more than her crown but her head. There is also a very light touch of romance in the story. She is in love with her best friend but while she dreams of more with everything going on Wardley is much more focused on keeping her safe. Not much time for romance, their friendship managed to come across as true and solid having memories of playing together from a young age to their own little codes. I hope to see more of their friendship and possibly more in the sequel.
The world building is much what I expected of a Wonderland tale. Full of lavish and out of the box fashions and scenes. Still while it could be both vibrant and beautiful on one side the duality of the world is that it holds some dark secrets as well. I enjoyed the ride and getting to dive into this unique world.
My only issue with it was that many things uncovered hint at something larger and while I think I have it figured out (early on too) it was never confirmed. I understand it may be flushed out further in the next book of the saga but with some of the hints being dropped early on I was hoping to have at least one of my suspicions confirmed. With the book not being very long it could have easily added more to this particular aspect instead of making me feel it was stretched into another book. I’m still going to read the next book, I’d read it now if I could find it, and would recommend Queen of Hearts to anyone who enjoys a good retelling or just a “before they became what we know” type of story.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and fells in the comments below.
Until next time…