Last year, I picked up Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes, and I thought it was one of the most impressive and exciting YA fantasy novels that I had read. Even still today, that book remains one of my favorites, so when I had that chance to read the sequel, Blood of Wonderland, I was super excited.
When I started reading, I quickly got engrossed in the novel and couldn’t put it down – I finished it super quick and now I’m (im)patiently awaiting the next book.
“‘Rise, Dinah, and become the Queen of Hearts. It is time to embrace your fate.'”
When we last left Dinah, the princess of Wonderland, she was stabbing the guy she loved and running off into the night to escape her father, who was trying to frame her for the murder of her brother and some of the people that lived in the castle. Now, Dinah is on the run, trying her hardest to avoid capture and stay alive. She goes through plenty of trials and obstacles in order to keep hidden as her father and his armies of cards search the lands for her.
One night, when she is about to get caught, she runs into a member of the cards that isn’t happy with the way things are being run, and he wants to help Dinah take over the kingdom from her father. The two of them navigate the Twisted Wood together, and he helps her learn the way.
When things take an interesting turn and they are taken prisoners by the enemy of the kingdom, Dinah learns some interesting things about her past that she didn’t expect to hear. This forces her to come to terms with way more than she bargained for – and not just that she must take her place as the rightful Queen of Wonderland.
“We become who we must to overcome pain and to make things right again.”
Needless to say, I thought that this book was a great continuation to the series. I haven’t really read a lot of other reviews on the book, but then again, I really loved the first book in the Queen of Hearts saga, while a lot of others found it ind of slower paced and not what they were expecting.
To be honest, I think that the first book did a good job of setting up the rest of the series. It didn’t have as much action in it as some would have hoped, and there was a bit of a quiet lull in that book. The good news is, is that Blood of Wonderland seemed like it really picked up the pace and added quite a bit of new things (like an interesting twist that I never saw coming), and it really worked hard to create the perfect atmosphere and set up for the third book in the series.
I love how some of the characters from the first book are also in this book, such as Cheshire. The book also has a new cast of characters, as well, so we have the chance to see some old faces and meet some new ones. I really liked Dinah’s character a lot better in this book – she seemed like she was a bit less of a needy young girl and more in-charge. She definitely seemed like queen material in this book. She has developed so much from Queen of Hearts.
The twist toward the end of the book between Dinah and one of the other characters was completely unexpected, and added quite a bit more depth to Dinah’s story. I don’t want to give any hints or spoil it, but I really think it tied into the story well and made it feel like things made a lot more sense.
Of course, there’s also a moment between Dinah and other one of the characters from the first book that is really heartbreaking, and I really felt sad over that moment. It wasn’t the direction I was expecting that part of the book to go in, so I wasn’t expecting it at all.
If you’re a fan of retellings, this is a great series to get into. The Queen of Hearts saga is way more like a behind the scenes kind of retelling, or even a prequel to Alice in Wonderland, because it tells the story of Dinah as a teenage girl. I truly think that Colleen Oakes has created a masterpiece with this series. The writing is genuinely captivating, the story is full of twists, turns, and exciting elements, and it’s perfectly paced to make sure you can’t put it down!