Blood of Wonderland by Colleen Oakes

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Framed for the murder of her younger brother, Dinah, once the heir apparent in Wonderland, must flee for her life. As her insane, rage-fueled father combs the country searching for her, Dinah remains hidden, determined never to set foot in her kingdom again. But walking away from a crown is not so easy. Secrets about Dinah’s and Wonderland’s past begin to emerge, raising questions about the fate of Wonderland in Dinah’s absence. Though she was never trained for battle, Dinah must choose: live her life constantly hiding from her father, or fight for her right to rule.

Though this one wasn’t quite as good as the first (Queen of Hearts), it’s still a solid read. If I haven’t already, I also highly recommend the audiobook, as the reader is excellent — the perfect voice for Dinah. While this installment lacks the level of court intrigue and drama of the first book, there’s much more action, and some incredible plot twists; even I was surprised. I especially liked the non-traditional love story (no spoilers!) — it’s not your typical fairy tale. I’m super excited to see what happens next with the series! Don’t miss this is you loved the first book.

Rating: 4/5

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oaks

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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!

Rating: 5/5 

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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In the land of Hearts, Cath dreams of opening up her own bakery. She does, after all, make the best baked goods in the kingdom. The only problem with Cath’s plan is her nobility. Though her parents dream of Cath’s rise in court (especially with the king’s eye on her), Cath wants only to assert her independence and make her own way in the world. If Cath’s world isn’t complicated enough, new arrivals in Hearts (a mysterious, alluring joker and a rabbit who makes hats) further tangle her ambitions. With the pressure of the king’s affection increasing every day,  Cath must figure out a way to control her own destiny — if she can.

I loved The Lunar Chronicles, so I was really looking forward to new work by Marissa Meyer. At first, this book is a bit slow, but hang in there, because it really picks up by the end. What I like best about this book, aside from the incredible world-building, is that we see a huge shift in the protagonist. Most of the time, “good guys” stay “good guys” and bad stays bad. In this book, that is not the case. However, seeing as the book takes place in Wonderland, I suppose it’s fitting for expectations to be turned on their heads. If you like Alice in Wonderland, fractured fairy tales, or are also a fan of Marissa Meyer, definitely give this one a try. After its ending, I definitely hope there is more to follow!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.