Friday, March 21, 2014 19:26

Review 243. Colleen Oakes – Queen of Hearts.

20410977Title: Queen of Hearts.
Author: Colleen Oakes.
Pages: 205.
Published: February 14th 2014 by SparkPress.
Sort: Unnamed #1.
Source: Netgalley & Publisher.
Link: Goodreads.
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.
Rating:

This book proves to me that it’s not always bad to base an opinion on the cover. When I scrolled through Netgalley I was captured by the cover and after reading the blurb, I knew I had to request it. Luckily, I was shown that pretty cover and a good story can go hand in hand. Be ready to unravel the story behind the Queen of Hearts.
Colleen excels in telling a story I haven’t seen before. We all know Alice in Wonderland and there are several retellings, but the Queen of Hearts is perhaps even more fascinating. I really liked what Colleen did and how she gives this ‘villain’ a believable background. It makes me feel sad for the future Queen and it’s not strange that she turns out that way.

Dinah is a passionate, intelligent girl who grows up in a harsh environment. Her mother died when she was a young girl and her father has always resented her. It’s clear that he hates Dinah and he does everything to make her feel miserable. He is such a merciless King, that he made me feel sick. He is a beast and it’s not strange that his people are loyal to him: they are scared as hell.

Dinah’s life is only bearable because of her best friend, Wardley (future Knave of Hearts), and her adviser Harris (the white rabbit) There were many times where I wanted to hug her. People are laughing at her and they gossip behind her back – they even suspect she is just as mad as her younger brother Charles (mad hatter). In order to maintain her status as Princess, she needs to act harsh. I liked how feisty she is, but there is also a darkness luring behind the surface. I like her realistic, flawed personality and how strong she is in her situation. Her father puts her in a difficult position, especially when he announces that Dinah has a half-sister named Vittiore.

When Dinah is contacted by a mysterious stranger, she decides it’s time to take action. Together with Wardley she goes on a trip to the Black Towers to talk to a prisoner. This grim place pretty much sums up what a horrible man her father is.  The world torture doesn’t even cover what’s going on here. The meeting ends up in beheadings and eventually Dinah must flee for her life.

I like all the mystery around Vittiore, the sinister events and the cute moments between Dinah and Wardley. Colleen described Wonderland in such a way that I felt I was there and the unexpected twist leading to the ending makes me anxious for the next book. It was a good cliff-hanger. If you look for something refreshing when it comes to fairy tales, this is a book I highly recommend.
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Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

25 comments:

  1. I'm reading this right now actually. So far I'm only maybe 25% in, but I must say the story is very slow paced, at least for the part I'm reading. I realize that I have become very easily bored with intros of books :( I hope it does get better later on!

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  2. Pretty cover :D And yess. I'm glad you enjoyed it; and that the pretty cover was right, hih :) That is always a good feeling. I'm sorry you didn't fully love it, but enjoying a book is good enough sometimes. <3 Great review Mel :)

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    1. Oh definitely. Not every book has to be your next favorite :D Enjoyable books are good too.

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  3. Yay for cover lust finally coming in handy! I like how this comes from the pov from the Queen, who is someone that isn't the heroine. Sounds really interesting, I like the mysterious moments and the fresh retelling. I think I'll be adding it to the TBR!

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  4. I tried so hard to read and finish this book but I couldn't. It's not often that I can't finish a book but this one was frustrating me too much. :(
    Glad you liked it though! And maybe sometime I will return to it.

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    1. Sometimes books just aren't mean for us, it happens :)!

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  5. Honestly, I wouldn't have notice this book at all before reading your review. Story looks intriguing, I'm curious.
    Great review.

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  6. I actually don't like the cover that much, but I spotted this on another blog and the story intrigued me. I'm a huge Alice junkie. Your review makes me think I was right to TBR it. I love the idea of the Mad Hatter as Red's brother. It's something I haven't come across before. Also, the idea of ruthlessness as a necessary feature for a Wonderland ruler reminds me of Splintered by A.G. Howard, which I adored. But this book definitely seems more traditional, which is also nice.

    On another note, I wonder if Oakes purposefully chose the name of Alice's cat for the queen. It's a very Oz move. ;)

    C.J.
    Sarcasm & Lemons

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    1. It screamed all 'FAIRY TALE' to me, so haha, that made me interested to take a closer look. Being an Alice junkie, I think you will really appreciate this book :) You are right about this book being more traditional in comparison with Splintered.

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  7. OOH YAY, I'm so glad you liked this! I got it for review off Netgalley as well but I haven't gotten to it yet. I just love when people explore the background and motivations of characters who eventually become villains, since I'm always interested in villains. I agree, such a pretty cover! :) Great review Mel!

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    1. Yes, villains make such interesting main characters!

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  8. Thanks for making me aware of this one, I hadn't heard of it, but I am also drawn to the cover, and it sounds like a pretty good story

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  9. I haven't heard of this one before but I do like the cover! You have me convinced I need to get this!

    Lovely review, Mel! <33

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  10. OH I LIKE the sound of this. I really do. Alice in Wonderland is probably my favourite fairy-tale/classic of ever. I'm a total fan of A.G. Howard's versions. And Tim Burton's movie. :) *pops off to add it on Goodreads*

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    1. I think you will really like this one then!

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  11. I still haven't read Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll AND any of the recent YA retellings! I know, I know, way behind, but I've just got so many other unread books that it's hard to find the time -- and the money O_O -- to go out and get Splintered or something similar. Somday, hopefully...

    It seems like everyone is beginning to move toward making people sympathize with fictional villains! I mean, there's Maleficent, the movie starring Angelina Jolie, which retells Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent's POV (really looking forward to it!), and then there Queen of Hearts, and probably a bunch of other stuff out there doing the same thing too. Love the change, because it helps us relate more to villains and why they are what they are. Also, it's definitely a plus when the author makes the villain believable. And the characterization here sounds particularly great.

    But dude, I never realized the Mad Hatter was the Queen of Hearts' brother! Is it just in this book or is it in the actual Alice in Wonderland stories, too?!

    Anyway, thanks for putting this book on my radar! I would never have given it a second glance because the cover isn't that attention grabbing, IMO, but I'm just a fussy cover-picker, so what do I know? ;) Great review, Mel!

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    1. MEG :D

      The money is a problem I can identify with ;) But there is always the library too, right? I really like the change from going to only princess stories to villains too. They can make such interesting, complex characters. I'm so excited for that movie, all the sneaky trailers look fantastic :D

      Not that I know off! I think this was Colleen Oakes choice and I liked it :)

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  12. I saw this one at NG and was really intrigued but I requested too many books as it is so I skipped it. Too bad as it sounds really good. I have read only one Alice in Wonderland retelling and it wasn't as interesting as this one. Great review, Mel :)

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    1. Haha, requesting too many books is something I do all the time too :p

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  13. "Not every fairytale has a happy ending. This is the story of a princess who became a villain." Well that makes me want to read it right there. Plus the fact that you enjoyed it. I am trying to recall if I have read any Alice in Wonderland retellings before and I am coming up blank! This needs to change...

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    1. Haha, true! So, you've never read Splintered? That's also a pretty good retelling :)

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  14. Oh that's great to know! I'm STILL only less than 20% through and I started months ago. I had a really hard time with the beginning and I haven't felt the desire to continue. I'll have to be in the mood for it as well!
    Thanks for your thoughts! :)

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