Title: Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1)
Author: Colleen Oakes
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy for review!
Waaaah, I wanted to like this one so much more than I did. In 2009 I watched the TV Mini-series called “Alice” which was a modern remake of Alice in Wonderland. It was weird and twisty and did such an amazing job of playing with the themes of Alice in Wonderland (a story that I never really connected with that much in the past) that when I heard about this I for some reason connected the two in my head and thought that this book was going to be as brilliant as that mini-series.
And this book could have been. I had all of the elements, things were weird and twisted and Wonderland was deliciously creepy. But there was no backstory. No real world building. I felt like the only reason I was able to “see” it the way I was was because I was projecting my own ideas onto it. But when it comes to a fantasy world, even in a re-telling, I need some backstory. Why are things the way they are now, what lead to this current situation? Why should I care? There were things peppered throughout the book that I was grasping at, but nothing that really gave me the answers that I was craving.
Also there were times in this book that it felt like there was a Wonderland checklist that the author was just ticking boxes off. All the characters were there, but some of them seemed a little forced. Part of why I loved that TV mini-series so much was because the surprise of figuring out who was who! In this it was very obvious who was who and what their rolls were and it just fell a little flat for me.
I also wanted a plot. There was kind of this idea that there was something bad going on but the clues were so few and far between that I could never even try to piece them together. There was NO conclusion and nothing was wrapped up, no questions were answered, and everything was just left hanging in such an unsatisfactory way. It wasn’t even a cliffhanger. It’s just like the book cut off and that there should be more, but haha, you have to wait until the next one.
Also I was NOT comfortable with the relationship between the King of Hearts and Princess Dinah. I never felt that his actions were just and most of the time they seemed super random. Also the time jumps were weird and the whole story around the court politics made no sense.
I did enjoy the writing in this, and the descriptions of Wonderland. Wardley was an okay character, but that’s about it. I might pick up the next book just to see how things go, but it’s not going to be a priority. Sadness!