Alice in Wonderland is more of my sister’s thing than mine. She’s already taken dibs on the name if she’s to ever have a child. Which is perfectly okay with me. Not because I don’t like the book. Because unlike my sister, I’ve actually read the book, something she’ll never readily admit. Instead, she’ll probably ask you to stare at her Alice in Wonderland teapot lamp that is made out of this tea set.
Don’t stare it unless you want to hear about how wonderful she is. Instead, let’s talk about another Alice in Wonderland themed book she’ll never read. Because despite how big of an Alice fan my big sis says she is, when it comes to reading about Alice, she fails.
Queen of Hearts is not an Alice in Wonderland retelling. Rather, it’s more of a Wonderland prologue where the Queen of Hearts is the heroine.
The Queen of Hearts has a rather interesting backstory in the fandom universe. Most people connect her with the Disney version- a self absorbed, unattractive, conceited, dimwitted heroine with a foul temper. And while she’s somewhat like that in the original book, the Disney version is a hybrid character of the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen.
This version of the queen isn’t Disney’s. Though to be honest, she doesn’t seem much like the queen I remember from Carroll’s books either. Oakes takes what is a cartoon character and really fleshes her out. However, despite being fleshed out, the queen still remained herself. You still saw flashes of what Dinah will ultimately become. And yes, she still throws a few tantrums.
Honestly, Carroll’s book is the perfect book for a retelling. While the world was fairly well formed, there were a lot of holes left open. The characters being one of them. Oakes seemed to zero in on this and that’s why I think this book worked so well.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t give this book a super high rating because it sort of lacked in plot. Yeah, it was there. But overall, this is a character novel. Which I’m perfectly fine with. The deal is, is that I don’t think its going to work for everyone. There were parts of the book that just dragged because Oakes decided to take her time with introducing the reader to Dinah (the queen) and court life.
While I do think it’s going to help the series in future installments, but just looking at the book as a whole I really don’t know if it worked.
To be blunt about it, this book seemed like a really good prologue. That’s not bad, but there was definitely a feeling of it being incomplete.
That being said though, the rest of the book was great. The queen and other characters were well formed. I liked how Oakes took these insane almost caricatures and developed them into actual characters. I also found some of the transformations of some of the characters-from animal to human intriguing as well. Particularly, the Cheshire and the White Rabbit Oh, and the Mad Hatter too.
While the romance really wasn’t swoon worthy or for that matter, really much of a romance. I liked how realistic it seemed. Dinah has feelings for a guy like many girls do. I really have to wonder how her relationship with Wardley is going to end. I really hope, pray, that it’s not what I suspected. But even if it is, I think the way Oakes has written the story I’ll be okay with it.
Overall, if you want a more introspective look at one of the most outlandish characters in Wonderland, you should give this book a chance. While it might not be the most exciting book to read, plot wise, as far as character books go this is really a great story.
Overall rating: seven out of ten (B).