“‘War is bloody and brutal, a thing that can rip through the very heart of men. War can make a man question everything he believes in, every truth that he holds dear. Wonderland has never seen war, so allow me to confess that war can make a man…lonely.'”
I have always loved Alice in Wonderland related anything – books, movies – you name it, and it will instantly be something that I need in my life. This book is no exception – from the really awesome looking cover to the synopsis that essentially promises a prequel to the original Alice in Wonderland stories, I honestly didn’t see how this book could be anything less than a delight.
Remember the mean old Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland? Well, this is her story. Rather, it’s the story of how she came to be the Queen of Hearts, and it starts off with her as a teenager – the Princess of Wonderland. Dinah spends her days in the castle with her father, the King (who isn’t a very nice man at all, at least not to Dinah), and the various servants and maids who work at the castle. One day, Dinah’s father calls a meeting and insists that Dinah be there, and introduces another girl to the kingdom – another daughter around Dinah’s age, who is seemingly perfect in every way, that he fathered years ago. Since Dinah’s mother died only a few years back, Dinah instantly dislikes her, and is in disbelief that he would have been unfaithful to her mother. While everyone in the kingdom is in awe over this new girl, and the King is being incredibly nice to her, he is still treating Dinah as if she is an inconvenience and as if he thoroughly dislikes her (and as the book unfolds, you will see how cruel he can get).
Feeling neglected and unwanted, Dinah spends a great deal of time with Wardley, a boy who she has been in love with for years and envisions a future with – a future where they rule Wonderland side by side.
One evening, during an important dinner, Dinah receives a note that indicates that she should go to Wonderland’s prison to see one of the prisoners about a pressing matter. What follows (and what Dinah discovers about Wonderland and the King’s rule) is nothing like Dinah has ever seen before.
“‘Wonderland is a much darker and more twisted place than you imagine.'”
I started reading this before I went to sleep one night, and found myself still awake at three thirty in the morning still reading it, it was that good. Sure, the beginning of this book started off a little slow (not that much happened in the first half – it was more or less giving some background information and introducing us to the characters), but the second half of the book was pretty much non-stop action and it was so easy to get lost in the story.
The whole Wonderland story was amazingly done – the characters are fun (and imaginative – they relate to the characters in Alice in Wonderland). It’s so neat how everything ties into that, but at the same time, it’s kind of like a prequel…I absolutely loved it. It’s a must read for any Alice in Wonderland fan or lover of fairy tales. However, it is important to remember that this isn’t actually a retelling or anything, but it kind of gives us a glimpse into what the Queen of Heart’s world was like when she was young.
The romance between Dinah and Wardley didn’t take over the plot of the book, which I loved, because a lot of times in fantasy books you will notice that instead of a romance just adding the right amount of “awe” to a book, it tries to take over the entire story and that’s all that gets focused on. That isn’t the case here, and while it makes for a nice sub-plot, it doesn’t take away from the main action in the book.
I kind of wish the book had been a bit longer, because after hanging on for the first half of the book without much happening, the second half just flew right by and before I knew it, the book was over. Since it’s going to be part of a series, I can only imagine the fun things that Ms. Oakes has in store for us with the next book!