ARC Review: Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts
Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release date: May 3, 2016 (HarperTeen edition)

Dinah is the princess who will one day reign over Wonderland. She has not yet seen the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and a future with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, she is launched into Wonderland’s dangerous political game. Dinah must stay one step ahead of her cunning enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown but her head.

Evil is brewing in Wonderland and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself.

Villain backstories are always intriguing; there is certain complexity in showing how a personality devolves from good to bad. Mostly such stories are heart-breaking, a victim who turned a bully sort of tale. And Dinah has some similar origins. The princess of Hearts, she lives in a tamer version of Wonderland, with a kingdom and a father who despise her. This fact is not given a reason to, but I suppose the way her father treats her and the fact that she is not beautiful and charming are strikes against her. Enter her beautiful and charming illegitimate half-sister, whose presence evokes admiration in her subjects. Naturally, Dinah is upset by the betrayal of his marriage that her father is flaunting, and the fact that he seems to hate her.

While she goes about preparing for her coronation and being a better ruler than her father, she discovers the true brutality of the regime – the Black Towers that are institutions of torture. Her visit sets in motion a chain of events that leaves her exiled and on the run. There will be a lot of vengeance involved in the future of this series, I can already see that and I am so excited to see her journey and how she becomes the Queen of Hearts. The writing was pretty good, (I had skimmed through the start of an earlier edition once and found her a bit bratty) and there was definitely a malicious tinge in the atmosphere of the book. If you are looking for a quirky maddened Wonderland, this is not it; there are however allusions to various key characters like the Mad Hatter and the Chesire Cat (who seems shady!), and perhaps even Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum – all expected since this is written more like a prequel. In short, this is a series I am definitely excited for.

Received a free galley from HarperTeen, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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