Review: Blood of Wonderland by Colleen Oakes

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Blood of Wonderland by Colleen OakesBlood of Wonderland by Colleen Oakes
Series: Queen of Hearts Saga #2
Published by HarperTeen on January 31, 2017
Pages: 336
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Dinah has been exiled from Wonderland. The vicious father she always feared has framed her for the brutal murder of her brother and turned the kingdom against her.

Now hiding in the lush and mysterious Twisted Wood with only her war steed at her side, Dinah is faced with a choice: leave Wonderland forever or stay and fight her father for the throne.

When a chance encounter with one of her father’s long-lost enemies brings Dinah more allies than she ever could have imagined, war starts to feel inevitable. But before Dinah can lead her people into combat, she must confront certain truths about her heart and her destiny—no matter how dark those truths may be.

Revolution is rising in Wonderland. Dinah’s battle has begun.

I absolutely loved Queen of Hearts, the first book in this trilogy. So it pains me to say that Blood of Wonderland was a bit of a let-down. Oakes’ writing is amazing and the imagery is lush and beautiful, and the story itself was a fast read; however, the first half was absolute filler/Second Book Syndrome.

Dinah was a great character in Queen of Hearts – fierce and fiery, if not a bit spoiled. Her character development in Blood of Wonderland, however, was amazing. She becomes very self-aware of the privileged life she had. She goes through a lot, learns a lot and comes out of it ready to fight for her crown in a war that could cost her everything.

I can’t say much about Wardley without spoilers. When we left him in Queen of Hearts, he was in a very precarious position and we don’t learn his fate for a very long time. All I’m going to say is this: What I said about him in my Queen of Hearts review was pretty much right on point.

As I mentioned in my review of Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat is an incredibly devious and self-serving character, someone you wanted to trust but knew you couldn’t. In Blood of Wonderland, he was… Well, I still don’t fully trust Cheshire, but I’m very intrigued by him. Also, WTH was with that revelation he dropped on Dinah?!?! I actually believe his story, but.. Whoa… I also don’t fully trust Gorrann but he’s very protective of Dinah and I like that. I WANT to trust them both, I just don’t know yet if I can.

I was totally intrigued by the depiction of the Caterpillar in this book. I can’t say too much without spoilers, but he was pretty intense and maybe a little crazy.. Possibly? Sort of..

One thing that concerned me was the depiction of the Yurkei tribes. I could be wrong, but it seemed they were supposed to be Native American-like in their style and behavior; however, it was done in a stereotypical way and could be viewed as problematic. Again, I could be wrong in my assumptions/evaluations of this, but I didn’t feel I could write a full, comprehensive review without mentioning this.

The ending was intense and curious. I’m definitely excited for book three. Since book two was mainly filler, I’m dying for some action and I think we’ll see a LOT of action in book three as the war comes to a head and the battle begins. To the Battlefield we go!


Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen OakesQueen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Series: Queen of Hearts Saga #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 3, 2016
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I absolutely loved this book! I would almost go as far as to say it was my favorite Alice in Wonderland retelling, even! The world was fascinating – dark yet whimsical – and I loved the depictions of the characters in this retelling! There was always a feeling of creepiness, of a lingering danger. I had a hard time putting the book down and when I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

I really liked Dinah! She was fierce and fiery – and kind of scary (I mean, she is the future Queen of Hearts) – when she needed to be, but she was also really vulnerable. At her core, she’s a princess who’s eager to be a great ruler – to remembered and appreciated. It’s funny, even knowing this was a prequel story and knowing nothing truly bad could happen to Dinah, I still found myself constantly fearing for her and worrying over her safety. I’m really intrigued with the way her story ended and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Two of my favorite Alice in Wonderland characters are the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, so I always love seeing what an author will do with them in a retelling. And Queen of Hearts did NOT disappoint with either character. The Cheshire Cat was an incredibly devious and self-serving character, someone you wanted to trust but knew you couldn’t. I could easily picture that signature mischievous grin on the character Oakes described. As for the Mad Hatter in this retelling.. Whoa!!!! I seriously can’t go into details for fear of spoilers but… Holy crap, he’s by far my FAVORITE version of the Mad Hatter since Morpheus in Splintered.

The White Rabbit was another intriguing character. He had all the classic personality traits of the White Rabbit we all know and love from the classic, but he also had this caring, grandfatherly persona that made me really like him.

Personally, I never fully trusted Duchess Vittiore. Her story just never sat well with me. But I also don’t put all of that blame on her – I never liked or trusted the King of Hearts or Cheshire and I think they conspired together behind Duchess Vittiore’s back, as well as Dinah’s. Also, Duchess Vittiore’s description was suspiciously similar to that of Alice Liddell.. Curiouser and curiouser…

While I liked Wardley, I never really felt/believed the connection between him and Dinah. I saw them more as just friends. Given more time, I can see that friendship growing into a relationship, but as of the end of the story, I’m not yet convinced. I do appreciate Wardley’s protectiveness over Dinah and his steadfast loyalty.

The Towers were creepy A.F.!!! They reminded me of Azkaban.. But actually maybe worse? There are basically two types of retellings when it comes to Alice in Wonderland… 1) Whimsical 2) Dark and Twisted. And Queen of Hearts DEFINITELY fell into the second category, especially with the introduction of The Towers!

The ending of this book was INSANITY. The twists and unexpected revelations completely threw me. A couple of things were definitely hinted at, but I still didn’t expect them to end quite the way they did. I’m seriously so excited (and impatient) for the second book that I’m actually tempted to find the UK version of it…. *Tiptoes to Amazon….* Just kidding! …Sort of…

If you’re a fan of retellings and, particularly, Alice in Wonderland retellings, I HIGHLY recommend this book. Such an epic read! Not only am I super excited for the second book in this trilogy, but I’m definitely putting Colleen Oakes on my auto-buy author list! I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future!


“Wonderland is a much darker and more twisted place than you imagine.”
-Cheshire to Dinah, page 29
(Quote taken from ARC. Page numbers/exact wording subject to change in first edition)