In this twist on the classic Alice in Wonderland, Oaks examines the origins of Wonderland’s villain, the Queen of Hearts. Dinah, just a princess, is caught in the web of court life. Her father, the reigning King of Hearts, is volatile and often swayed by his wavering favor and the opinion of his venomous advisers. Her brother, considered mad and obsessed with hat making, is confined to his rooms. Though Dinah is expected to ascend to the throne and rule beside her father, the king treats her as though she is worthless. When the king brings in a long-lost, illegitimate daughter, Dinah knows she has a rival. As the situation continues to escalate, Dinah must figure out who she can trust in the court, as well as a way to keep her head.
I recently read and loved Heartless by Marissa Meyer. As great as that book is, Queen of Hearts is better. It’s a darker read, which is maybe why I like it more, and it takes a unique spin on the Wonderland characters. The mad hatter, for example is Dinah’s brother, a young boy with a mental illness (maybe autism) who loves to make hats. Cheshire, instead of being a disappearing cat, is a conniving adviser with a sly smile. Aside from these creative twists, the plot is also riveting, and I love that Dinah is not a beautiful young princess who needs to be rescued. I’m definitely reaching for the sequel! If you like fractured fairy tales or retellings, don’t miss this one!