New Read: Queen of Hearts, Volume 1

Queen of Hearts

Last year I read Lewis Carol’s classic children’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and I enjoyed it so much I moved straight on to Alice’s next adventure in Through the Looking Glass. With this in mind I was really excited to read the Wonderland reimagining Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes the first volume in a new trilogy.

Queen of Hearts follows Dinah the princess of Wonderland and the future bloody Queen. Dinah’s father the King of Hearts is a cruel and glorious ruler equally feared and loved by his subjects. Dinah and her brother Charles lost their mother when they were only young leaving them to the care of their maids and tutors. The King has at best been indifferent to them both and as far as hostile towards Dinah since she can remember. As a son Charles should be the heir to the throne but instead he is forced to live in isolation making hats due to his unstable mind leaving Dinah as the only other legitimate child as the heir. Dinah long’s for the day when she will be crowned more than anything, she hopes to be a strong and fair Queen yet a chain of events are to begin which will uncover a series of secrets and conspiracies which threaten Dinah’s crown and life.

The protagonist of Queen of Hearts Dinah is a young, head strong and rebellious girl. Dinah as a princess is expected to be fair, graceful and beautifully dressed while as the heir Dinah is also expected to be wise and well-educated. This is a lot of expectations and understandably Dinah struggles under the weight of them especially with the watchful and critical eye of her father and his courtiers upon her. I couldn’t help but pity her for this. Dinah is a strong but imperfect character. While I liked her bravery and strength there were also times when I cringed at how far she took her actions and opinions. If only she could hear me shouting stop!

Queen of Hearts is the first novel I have read by Colleen Oakes. It is also the first spin-off/reimagining of Lewis Carol’s Wonderland I have read. I am so pleased I gave this book a go because I really enjoyed Oakes’s reimagining of Wonderland. I liked her clever use of classic elements such as the roses, cards, croquet, and jam tarts with a new twist and her reimagined classic and new characters which I felt were much better fleshed out than in the original stories. I thought Queen of Hearts was well written, detailed and well described. I really could imagine the palace, the rose gardens, croquet lawns and the mysterious towers. If you know the original stories you will know how Dinah turns out as the Queen of Hearts. Even so I felt Oakes built her character and story gradually, with rising tension and anticipation. I just couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next!

Queen of Hearts is a clever and detailed reimagining of Wonderland through the eyes of Dinah the future Queen of Hearts. I recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and would like to see Wonderland in a new way. I really think I will have to read the rest of this series. Great read.

I received a free copy of Queen of Hearts via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any other reimaginings?

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8 thoughts on “New Read: Queen of Hearts, Volume 1

  1. Oh, how interesting!! I usually don’t do well with reimaginings of classics by new authors, but I think I could handle one for Wonderland…especially because it has so many fascinating elements but so little plot, it opens up wonderful possibilities!

    1. Cheryl I agree Carroll’s classic has “many fascinating elements but so little plot, it opens up wonderful possibilities” and I think Oakes has explored some wonderful possibilities in this novel 🙂

  2. I think this is the book I noted down a few days ago, I love the idea but was yet to read a review, so I’m glad to hear it’s good. And it sounds from your wishing her to hear you that the characters are well-written. I’ve watched Tim Burton’s film and Once Upon A Time, but never read a reimaginings of the story.

    1. Charlie for me one of the strongest point of this book was the fact it gave Dinah (the Queen of Hearts) a real life, personality and history. I enjoyed Carroll’s classic Wonderland tales but did finish them wishing I knew more about the characters!

  3. I’m glad that this worked out. I sometimes find myself overly critical when I’m reading a reimagining of another author’s works – it’s just too easy to pick faults or compare unfavourably – so it makes a refreshing change when one works out well.
    It’s been years since I read Lewis Carol – I should really give them a reread to see how they stand the test of time but there are just so many other books out there that I want to read for the first time that I very rarely return to the ones I’ve completed!!!
    Lynn 😀

    1. Lynn I understand what you mean. I think this reimagining worked particularly well because it took the basic characters of Carroll’s classic tale and gave them depth, detail and a history. This was far more a fully fleshed out fantasy adventure while Carroll’s classic is a simple and surreal short tale.

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