Queen of Hearts Trilogy Review
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Welcome back to another review from your Coffee, Book, and Candle crew! In honor of Spookytime, I have a villain story for you guys. If you're a Wonderland nut like us, you have to read every version you can get your hands on—it's a problem. What isn't a problem is spoilers, because I kept it spoiler-free . . . this time.
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
Category: Emotional Read
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Rating: 4/5 Stars
Pairing: The Queen of Hearts' Tarts & red berry tea
First off, can we appreciate the cover? I adore the card design, the color contrast, and the beautiful filigreed keyhole on the back. It screams Wonderland. What makes it better is the hardcover is embossed with a simple, fierce script that totally fits Dinah and the mood of the series. Each cover uses the same format, with the colors alternating to create a beautiful set. I also love seeing Dinah's appearance slightly alter to fit her new hairstyles and titles.
Enough love-at-first sight. Let's get into the real reasons you should love this story.
HOW THE QUEEN OF HEARTS GOT HER NAME
Wonderland meets Game of Thrones in this exciting origin story of one of the most iconic villains. It all begins in Queen of Hearts.
Dinah, the Princess of Hearts, wants only to please her cold, temperamental father and to someday day rule over Wonderland—with the boy she loves at her side and the crown her brother made for her upon her head. But when a newcomer reaches the palace, everything Dinah thought she knew is turned upside down. Facing threats to her crown (and her head), Dinah is forced to learn how to navigate the political underworld of Wonderland. Yet the most terrifying part may not be the outside forces, but the rising Fury inside which she struggles to contain.
In Blood of Wonderland, Dinah is alone and on the run after being framed for unspeakable crimes and sentenced to death, forced to flee in a bloody whirlwind. Can she survive the wilds, hunting parties, bounty on her head, and soldiers from the neighboring kingdom? Can she develop the skills and allies she needs in order to clear her name and reclaim her place in the Court? How will she respond to the mounds of betrayal?
All of these questions are answered in War of the Cards, the final installment—but not until many more are raised. Dinah reaches the gates of Wonderland Palace, ready for war. Once the smoke on the battlefields clear, what will victory look like? Can she still trust those closest to her? What is the cost of war?
Oakes’ take on Wonderland was equal parts enchanting and chilling, from the pink snow to the Black Towers, whose roots twist around (and inside of) prisoners, poisoning their minds and feeding off their terror. It is certainly one of the darker Wonderland retellings I have come across, making it stand out for me. The plot was fairly fast-paced with easy-to-reach stopping points for readers to take a break. But I never wanted to stop reading. Honestly, I read them in a week and wouldn't have minded if the series was longer.
Just as interesting as the world Oakes built is the way she used our most-beloved characters. The roles they play are unique, and many of the characters kept me guessing even when I predicted what was coming. Dinah’s motives and her awareness of her fury and mistakes make her likable even when she commits horrible acts you SCREAM at her not to.
While there is romance in this series and it's an important factor to the plot, it didn't overtake the story. There were few actual romantic scenes in the books, which was refreshing. I enjoyed that Dinah didn't rely on her love interest to help her every step of the way. She has a brilliant mind, and she works through her problems by doing research, using her head, and learning from others as the story progresses.
The plot twists felt like knife twists, y’all. And the imagery is heartbreaking. I cried multiple times while reading these books and felt my own anger bubbling for Dinah. I wanted to off everyone’s heads for her. She certainly makes a couple of unfortunate decisions, but she is punished justly, and you can see how much regret and pain she carries afterward. She knows what she deserves, which makes it hurt even more! I did enjoy seeing her grow into an incredibly sharp woman with the ability to outsmart the cleverest, vilest minds in all of Wonderland Proper.
Despite all of the rage, tears, and my ship not sailing, I loved this origin story and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Wonderland and/or villains. I also enjoyed the tarts, even if they came out a bit messy. I'll just call them "bloody tarts". *wink*
Enjoy this review? Share it on social media to let everyone know about it! Grab a copy of the books from your local library, indie bookstore, or places likes Amazon or Barnes and Noble! Then let us know what you think of Dinah’s rise to power!