Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts, #1)

queen-of-hearts-colleen-oakesFirst Lines: “Oh, my future Queen, you’re late!” Harris hopped from one foot to the other, his plump face soaked with a cold sweat.  He pulled his thick-rimmed glasses off and wiped them on his white checkered ascot.  “Dinah!  Walk faster, Your Highness!  We are late, late, late!”

I received an ARC of this from the publisher (release date set at May 3, 2016), but I’m really confused on if it’s actually an ARC.  This book won awards 2 years ago…so maybe this is some kind of rerelease?  Whatever.  It was Alice in Wonderland and I was in.

As future Queen of Wonderland, Dinah’s life is an endless parade of tarts, teas, croquet games, and humiliation at the hands of her father.  The only bright spot in her day is visiting Wardley, her best friend and future Knave of Hearts.  Wardley can always cheer her–partly because she’s madly in love with him.  When a stranger arrives a the palace, Dinah’s world threatens to crumble around her.  Her coronation date approaches and something sinister his happening in the halls of Wonderland palace.  It’s up to Dinah to figure out what’s going on…and keep her head.

I have mixed feelings about this book, to say the least.  Mainly, I felt like the story was unfocused.  First it feels like it’s going to be a family drama with all this stuff going on with Dinah’s father being a jerk.  Then it feels like it’s going to be a mystery/suspense because of the things going on in the palace.  And then it shifts again.  I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be expecting out of this book because it kept changing.  I wanted to like the story, but there didn’t seem to be any set story line.  Just a bunch of events strung together.  It wasn’t cohesive.

I thought I wasn’t going to like Dinah (she’s kind of an incredibly well known villain, after all), but I kind of did.  I mean, she’s obviously got one heck of a temper, but that was expected.  But Oakes does a nice job of making Dinah a sympathetic character as well.  Every time her anger flares up, you understand why she’s gotten to that point.  And, of course, everyone in Wonderland is a little off, so it’s to be expected.  That’s half the fun of these types of stories.

What I didn’t like as much was that Oakes messed with some of my favorite characters.  I wanted to see cameo appearances by some of my favorites, like the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit (who are both in this book), but they weren’t the characters I wanted them to be.  Ok, let me amend that.  The White Rabbit was still more or less the same character, but in a different form.  But the Mad Hatter gets quite the overhaul and I wasn’t as thrilled about that.  Can you really mess with a character as beloved as him?

The worst part about the whole thing was that I totally lost track of the timeline.  While I was reading, I thought this was all taking place in a matter of a few months.  There were a few times Dinah would say, “Two months went by” or something similar to keep me on track.  But there was one part where Dinah revealed it has been multiple yearsYears.  I don’t normally lose track of the timeline this badly, so I’m truly wondering what went wrong.  And it threw everything I’d read back into question.  It’s not a fun feeling, trying to reevaluate everything.

Mostly, I think there just wasn’t a lot here that kept me entertained.  There was some stuff about the Wonderland lore here, some action.  But it just wasn’t…interesting.  At least not for me.

Another  downside?  Singing “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah” the whole time I was reading this.  It was continually stuck in my head.

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