Queen of Hearts, by Colleen Oakes

Think you know the story of Alice in Wonderland? Queen of Hearts, the first in the Queen of Hearts Saga, turns the Lewis Carroll tale on its head, taking the reader into the mind of Dinah, Queen of Hearts. Relegated to a mad queen who cheats, terrorizes, and attempts to take Alice’s head in Carroll’s tale, Queen of Hearts instead introduces a young woman who lost her mother and is scorned and hated by her father. Dinah is humiliated in front of the entire kingdom of Wonderland when her father, the King of Hearts, publicly admits to cheating on his wife, the late Davianna, Dinah’s mother, and that the affair produced a child. Along with the admission comes the child herself; light and graceful where Dinah is dark and clumsy. She is to be Duchess of Wonderland, the King decrees, a new member of the royal family. But something more is amiss in the kingdom. With the help of her best friend Wardley, Dinah sets out to discover what secrets are hiding in the castle, journeying into the Black Towers, and setting in motion a chain of events that might cost her more than the throne: it might cost her her life.

I have never been a fan of Alice in Wonderland; Alice always came across as spoiled and pouting to me. Queen of Hearts, on the other hand, is awe-inspiring. Dinah is real and strong; there is an honesty in her darkness born of seeking the love that is always denied her. The author cleverly weaves in the fantastical elements of Wonderland most of us are familiar with–the cards and tarts, croquet, and even the “Mad Hatter.” Captivating, intriguing, and impossible to put down!

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