Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

3.7 12
by Colleen Oakes
     
 

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The first novel in Colleen Oakes’s epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains—the Queen of Hearts.

This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth.

Overview

The first novel in Colleen Oakes’s epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains—the Queen of Hearts.

This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/29/2016
Oakes (Wendy Darling) gives the Queen of Hearts an origin story in this deliciously dark tale, first in a series and originally self-published in 2014. Dinah, princess of Wonderland and the future queen, is eager for the day that she will reign—ideally beside the boy she loves, Wardley Ghane—even if her cruel father seems to barely tolerate her existence. When the king reveals the existence of a previously unknown daughter, Dinah is devastated and realizes that winning her father’s approval will be harder than ever. After receiving a mysterious message, Dinah and Wardley travel to the treacherous Black Towers; soon after, a shocking turn of events during Execution Day forces Dinah to flee for her life. Fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will enjoy the twists Oakes gives to familiar characters, including Dinah’s rabbitlike guardian, Harris; her father’s creepy adviser, Cheshire; her mentally ill brother, Charles, who feverishly creates beautiful hats; and the Heart Cards, her father’s security detail. Heart-stopping action makes the pages fly, and Dinah’s struggle to stay true to herself amid impossible expectations resonates. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jennifer Unter, Unter Agency. (May)
Booklist
This latest in fairy tales retold makes the classic villain less villainous by showing her tenderhearted backstory.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Every good villain deserves an origin story, and Oakes offers a fascinating glimpse into the mad queen’s complex and heartbreaking past. The novel offers some wonderful reinventions of Carroll’s classic, and fans of Alice’s more sinister elements will appreciate Oakes’ macabre touches.
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Chanda Hahn
“Oakes continues to weave literary magic as she pulls you down the rabbit hole into a Wonderland like you’ve never read before.”
School Library Journal
02/01/2015
Gr 9 Up—Readers get a peek into the story behind the darkly twisted world of Wonderland before Alice arrived. Fifteen-year-old Princess Dinah, heir to the throne of Wonderland, tries to navigate her way to power around the ruthlessly brutal King; her half-sister, Vittore; her much adored "mad" brother Charles, who is the direct heir, but not able to take on the responsibilities of the throne; and an interesting hierarchy of characters who are either in support of or in opposition to her becoming the "Queen of Hearts" once she turns 18. In The Crown, readers catch a glimpse of the causes of the future Queen's anger-management issues and mistrust of people. Surrounded by few friends and numerous enemies—with the shape-shifter and king's advisor Cheshire being the most dangerous of all—Dinah lives in constant fear and is forced to hide her true feelings for mere survival. In The Wonder, Dinah is in exile, hiding from the king's assassins, and purported to be a traitor and murderer. Oakes expertly expands the children's classic into a complex and compelling series of plot twists that uncover the future Queen of Hearts's true origins. The author fleshes out some of the quirks in Carroll's work and adds more depth to the source material's secondary characters. Familiarity with the original isn't necessary, but will add richness to this tale. VERDICT Complete with a mad tea party in the woods, this cinematic series has just the right amount of fantasy and epic suspense to keep even the strongest of hearts on the edge of their seats.—Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-25
A story set in the world of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as seen from a very different perspective. Fifteen-year-old Dinah is the Princess of Hearts, the daughter and heir of the fearsome King of Hearts. But her life isn't exactly easy: She's awkward, plump and unattractive, and the butt of jokes from the palace courtiers and even the servants. Her mother died when she was a child, and her father ignores her except to criticize her. Dinah would give anything to win her father's approval, and when the king unexpectedly summons her, she hopes she'll have the chance to do so. But to her horror, the king has called an audience to announce to the court that he has an illegitimate daughter named Vittiore, whom he's brought to the palace to live with the royal family as a duchess. Vittiore's beauty makes her an instant favorite with the court and the king, which makes Dinah hate her all the more. Dinah swears that she'll never accept Vittiore as her sister, but she's the least of the princess's problems: The king's adviser, Cheshire, seems to be plotting something; Dinah's brother Charles, the Mad Hatter, drifts farther from reality as he spends his every waking moment crafting his amazing hats; and Dinah's best friend and secret love, Wardley, whom she intends to marry someday, doesn't seem to see her as anything but a friend. The more Dinah digs into the mysteries that surround her, the more sinister secrets she uncovers. Oakes' latest heroine is spoiled, headstrong, temperamental and prone to tantrums, yet she somehow remains an incredibly sympathetic character. Perhaps it's Dinah's oh-so-human nature that makes her so easy to like, despite her flaws. Just as Gregory Maguire's depiction of the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked (1995) gave her a background that changed readers' perspectives, so Oakes' portrait of the villain-to-be turns her into a real and even likable person while clearly foreshadowing her future as Alice's Queen of Hearts. A wonderfully entertaining twist on an old classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062409720
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/03/2016
Series:
Queen of Hearts Series , #1
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
26,701
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Meet the Author

Colleen Oakes is the bestselling author of books for both teens and adults, including the Elly in Bloom series and the Wendy Darling saga. She lives in North Denver with her husband and son and surrounds herself with the most lovely family and friends imaginable. When not penning new books, Colleen can be found swimming, traveling, reading, or advocating for adoption and literacy.

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The Queen of Hearts 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Echo_InkBerryBooks More than 1 year ago
When you hear that you're going to be reading about Adventures in Wonderland through the viewpoint of the Red Queen, you can't help but wonder how much you're going to like it, right?  That's how I went into this series. Through the eyes of the villain.  However, true to Colleen Oakes style, she sucked me in.  We are thrown into Wonderland from the view of Princess Dinah, daughter of the vicious King of Hearts. She's been trained all her life to become Queen once she becomes eighteen. But her journey won't be easy as she's continuously sabotaged on her way to the throne.  Throughout the story, we're reintroduced to classic characters in a new style. Cheshire takes new form as the King's adviser, and the White Rabbit as Alice's stand in father and mentor. And the King of Hearts isn't the loving, jolly King we've all known. He's vile, hateful, and bloodthirsty.  Not two chapters into the book and I was entranced. The characters are incredibly interesting and there are so many secret plots that I couldn't help but read it all in one sitting.  Colleen Oakes has breathed new life into a classic story. My favorite of her touches, though, is the Mad Hatter. Any scene that involved him quickly moved to the top of my favorites list. He's such a lovable character, and my heart broke seeing him through Dinah's eyes. How much she loves him, and yet, she only caught glimpses of how much he loves her.  This is a series that I will follow to the bloody end. Seeing how the King and his plots and paranoia effect Dinah's mind early on is crushing. While reading it, I couldn't help but think, "No wonder she went all 'Off with their heads!'" The Queen of Hearts will forever sit on my top shelf as my favorite retelling of Alice in Wonderland.
kirstyviz More than 1 year ago
Alice in Wonderland is perhaps the story I have read most retellings of and I was interested to see how Colleen Oakes would adapt the tale. This is a brilliant book in which the author creates original personalities, animated characters and haunting scenes, but retains enough references to the traditional text that the world is recognizable. I love how Colleen Oakes humanizes the Cards, each suit representing different characteristics, and how Cheshire is no longer a cat, but the King's slimy and untrustworthy advisor. Whereas Lewis Carroll's story is haphazard and crazy, The Crown is more organized, but just as intricate and fantastical. The courtiers in the King of Hearts' castle bathe with hedgehog skins, eat a huge amount of tarts, play croquet even in pink snow and there is an execution day every year when criminals lose their heads. The most brilliant character is The Mad Hatter, whose identity I did not anticipate, but whose existence stirs an emotive response from the reader. It is the darkness of this new Wonderland that catches us by surprise; the torture of prisoners in the Black Towers, murder of innocent people and the cruelty of the King towards his eldest daughter. As the story begins Dinah is not the most likeable of characters. She is self-absorbed and often unkind, but she is also a romantic who is proud of her homeland and she cares deeply for her brother, her best friend and loyal servants (who spoil her!). I found it was easy to forgive her jealousy and rudeness once we got to know her and discover that she has reasons for her behaviour, mainly her mother's death and her father's rejection of her. Dinah has also been raised as the heir of the kingdom, which is a weight on any young woman's shoulders. I like hoe Colleen Oakes has developed the story without pursuing the relationship between Wardley and Dinah, which would have been predictable. They have grown up together and she is obviously in love with him, but his feelings remain ambivalent, possibly because he is a Card and his duty is to the Crown. However, I do hope he is a character who makes an appearance later in the trilogy. The Crown is an excellent start to The Queen of Hearts saga and it is a perfect read for fans of fairytale retellings or just an enjoyable book for fans of the Young Adult genre.
crayolakym More than 1 year ago
This book definitely took me on a fun ride down a new twist on Alice in Wonderland and if you are hungry for the other side of the fairy tales, then this book is a no-brainer. Instead of Alice, we have Dinah, next in line to the throne and her life is mundane. Her story includes her abusive King father, beyond beautiful step sister, who she can’t stand, and her brother, who is literally mad, but she loves very much all live in this elaborately and magically written world filled with many of the characters we are familiar with, like the Cheshire cat and Mad Hatter. It is up to her to figure out the mysteries and not crack under pressure. “So you’re plucking the Princess. This secret tryst of yours, what’s it worth to you?” The characters in this book kind of mess with your head because you want to envision them one way, but they are twisted into another, into a dark and conflicting world. If you are looking for a longer book with more depth, this isn’t the one, as it’s written to leave you hanging so you’ll read book two, but if you’re looking for a teaser to lead into a series, then you have to read this book. You won’t be let down! *This book was provided in exchange for an honest review *You can view the original review at San Francisco Book Review
Anonymous 13 days ago
This is the first book I've read from this author and i loved her style I was completely drawn in. I can't wait to read more from her!
YAMixtape 11 months ago
Well. If you don’t like not good reviews, I would turn around. I was really hopeful that this book would be awesome. I like Alice in Wonderland. The blurb also didn’t make it sound like, Alice in Wonderland retold just from the Queen of Hearts perspective, it sounded like the story would be changed a bit, but still in that world. That’s exactly what it was and it had so much promise. So much. The writing flow was good, I never thought about stopping. I just kept hoping for something really to happen. It felt like this should’ve just been the beginning of a book where we get more of a story. I’m betting the second book might be better because it seems like the story has truly started at the end of the book. There are SO MANY loose ends left in this book. In a series, you shouldn’t have that many, because people aren’t going to remember that by the time the next book comes out. I have a hard time remembering what happened in books I absolutely loved. When the next book comes out for this, I’m gonna be like, what happened? Then ultimately I’ll remember that nothing really happened and I can just go ahead and read the second book and probably be okay. I would like to read more in this series because it really does have so much potential. But I already know I won’t be buying the next book, I’ll just be borrowing it from the library because I don’t want to spend my money on it. :/ I know her father was supposed to be horrible, but there was so much of it that was just unbelievable. NONE of the common people had any idea how horrible he was to his daughter? He was so awful to her, in front of LOTS of other people, but it was somehow always under his breath or he hid behind something to yell or hurt her. None of the royal court or the townspeople ever saw her reaction and thought, maybe it’s not that she’s just scared of him because of his fighting prowess, maybe he’s actually abusing her? With how much he treated her as such a bad person, I find it hard that no one would notice that. I mean, yeah, the people she loved knew but no one outside her small circle of people? Cause y’all, he was MEAN. The other part that bothered me was her relationship with Wardley. It felt so formulaic, that immediately we’re just supposed to be as in love with him as Dinah is. Like, I wouldn’t even consider that a spoiler because it’s spelled out so blatantly for us that we should just ship him too right away. No chance to learn about him and fall in love with him on our own. Just, she loves him, he’s gorgeous, okay cool, so you guys love him too already? Of course, you do let’s move on. Like, woah! I want to get to know the dude half of what you’re wanting me to ship. I want to fall in love with the character as well, not just automatically be like, Welp. Gotta love him, so let’s go! No! Let me have a chance to be crazy about him too. That whole intro to him just was so rushed. So by the time he showed up later I was just like, Meh. Let’s just get on with this. I’m really, really hopeful that the second book in this series will be better, but honestly, I felt like we didn’t even need this first book. The entire first book could’ve been explained to us in 2 or 3 chapters in the next book.
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
When I first heard of this book I was so excited. I LOVE re-tellings. Especially if I've read and loved the original. And then the cover for this one was released and I fell even more in love. But unfortunately, the content just wasn't for me. Dinah wasn't always known as the evil Queen of Hearts. At first she was the princess and she spent her days going to royal tea parties and eating tarts. But then, as her coronation day approaches, things begin to reveal themselves. Things she was never expecting. Ok, I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one. It seemed like it was lacking plot for the most part. The synopsis is pretty vague (normally I love synopsis like that) but the book didn't seem to go more into depth than exactly that anyways. And because there didn't seem to be a plot, I was bored most of the time. By the last six pages I was convinced it would be ok to just mark it as read lol "Sad, [...] that madness and genius were always together." pg. 64 (ARC) The thing that saved it and made me want to keep reading though were the characters. I loved seeing how Cheshire and the Mad Hatter and all the other Wonderland characters were depicted. And they were all so cool! Especially the Cards Army. It was pretty entertaining. Also, I LOVED the way Wonderland was depicted. I could see the Twisted Wood and the Black Towers and all. Oakes gave great descriptions and made me feel as if I was in Wonderland myself. But ultimately, this book wasn't for me. And it's unfortunate because I was really looking forward to it. Now I'm debating on whether or not I want to finish out the series or not because the were a lot of questions left unanswered in this one. I may look for spoilers to see if my theories are correct, but that's all. Hopefully there are some out there that love this one more than me!
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes Book One of the Queen of Hearts Saga Publisher: HarperTeen Publication Date: May 3, 2016 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): 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. Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. What I Liked: I had no idea this was an actual retelling/story based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland! For some reason, I thought this was a prequel trilogy to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Either way, I was on board with this book. I didn't know much about it beforehand (which isn't a bad thing, in this case). Obviously I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped, but it was worth my time, and I think I may read the next book (and perhaps the third) in the series. Dinah is the crown princess of Wonderland, the next Queen of Hearts. Her mother died years ago, leaving Dinah and her mad younger brother Charles with the King of Hearts (their father, and King of Wonderland). But the King has never liked Dinah - in fact, he has always hated her. When the King introduces a complete stranger to the palace, and says that she is his daughter and a Duchess of Wonderland, Dinah cannot accept this. Her new half-sister is pretty and fragile and delicate, and not at all like Dinah (or Charles). But there is something afoot in Wonderland, and it's all coming down to Dinah's coronation as Queen. Dinah was a hot and cold character for me - sometimes I liked her, sometimes I didn't. In the very beginning, she's a bit spoiled and spineless, always afraid of her father but also trying to impress him. This is before he brings her half-sister Vittiore to the palace (fyi, I do not for a second buy this - that Vittiore is his daughter). When this happens, Dinah is pretty enraged. She absolutely hates Vittiore, especially because their father dotes on Vittiore and now openly hates Dinah. To Dinah, it's clear that Vittiore is weaseling her way into Dinah's place as Queen of Hearts. Right? I liked Dinah more when she was enraged and ready to rip off her sister's head (sorry! It's true!). She seemed less ditsy and naive, and more aware and demanding (like a queen should be). Finally Dinah starts acting more like the queen she hopes to be, with more spine and fire. This Dinah, I liked. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I love all things Wonderland, so I was excited to see an origin story of sorts on the Queen. Especially since we all know what sort of queen she turns out to be. Dinah is an interesting enough character. She's a bit more whiny than I expected her to be; however, by the end there is a bit of growth and a hint of the formidable ruler she will be. We got hints of a lot of the other characters. To me, it didn't seem like we really got to know any of them. Perhaps it was a way to show how ostracized Dinah felt? My main complaint was there wasn't any real explanation for anything. There were a lot of random scenes and vague clues that I'm guessing will make sense in the coming books. Instead of the whimsy and imaginative set up I'm guessing they were meant to have, it felt forced and disjointed. Overall, I think there's a lot of potential for the series. I didn't love it, but it was interesting enough to keep me reading. I will definitely be reading the next one. **Huge thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
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.
UrbanGirlReview More than 1 year ago
My biggest issue with the book was that I had a hard time engaging in the story and I struggled to finish it. I probably would have stopped if it wasn't an ARC. I did like the idea of the of the backstory of the Queen of Hearts. How she become the evil Queen of Hearts, but to be the book dragged on never really picking up. I was hoping this book would be like Splintered (by A.G. Howard) but nope it wasn't anything like it. Pros: Does have some interesting takes on traditional Wonderland characters. Such as her brother is the Mad Hatter and is actually crazy. Not romanced focus (per say) it's more on becoming queen of Wonderland, her daddy issues, and jealously of new found sister. Cons: Could have done more, been more creative, been more wacky (it's Wonderland for Pete's sake). Especially since it is written from the villains side there is potential there for a good story. Note: that cover is so cute using the queen of hearts card. *Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for the opportunity to read and review this book.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Dinah is a princess and has towed the line and is ready to help her father reign over their country.  Although she doesn't know much beyond the palace walls, she starts to learn about the things that are not so positive about her country.  She must decide what she would like her reign to look like and how to overcome the King her father has become.   An adventure, a fairytale and a sweet story.  I loved seeing some characters that I have known since my childhood mixed with new and completely intertwined in a story - it was magical.  Dinah was a great character with a true story arch and a pretty great love interest!  I know that this is the first in a trilogy or series and I am excited to see where this story will go. 
tweetybugshouse More than 1 year ago
I really loved this story, right from the start i was sucked into this retelling and not let go to the very end.  You have the classic characters you come to expect, Mad Hatter, Chesire, but instead of Alice you have Dinah and instead of the wicked queen you have her father the King of Hearts and of couse who could forget her beau the soon to be knave of hearts Wardley.  This story keeps you guessing with all it twists and turns right up to the end.   This was a wonderful read. Dark, fascinating, intriguing. At 200 pages, Queen of Hearts is a quick read that sucks you down the rabbit hole.