I got a lot of confusing feelings about this book. Like, hey, it's cool that you're doing a backstory on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I am INTO it. But like...how...sympathetic are we going to make her.
Or, more to the point, how UN-INSANE are we going to make her? Are we going to make Wonderland a place where anything makes sense? Wonderland is where the Jabberwocky lives, and therefore where the author lives who wrote 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:/All mimsy were the borogroves,/And the mome raths outgrabe.
But yeah, all those people are just noooormal.
So...the deal here is that the princess of Wonderland is named Dinah (sure), and her father rules Wonderland, but he's a bloodthirsty tyrant who hates her (and maybe thinks her mom banged another dude? unclear). He brings in some girl he says is his bastard daughter (suspicious) and she's super pretty, so immediately you're like "oh, no way is Dinah taking the throne. And that captain of the guard/Card warrior boy she's in love with? Totally going to be married off to Super Pretty Bastard Daughter." These don't get solved in this book, because it's YA, so why make it one book when you could make it three, but I'm like 98% sure that's how it's going to play out. Half for the angst and half because we know what happens to the Queen of Hearts's love life.
Speaking of which, my brother and I made a startling discovery.
So...Lea DeLaria is the Queen of Hearts is basically what I'm saying.
So anyway, there's a reference made to Card warrior boy wanting to become the Knave of Hearts and also he really loves tarts? If you will remember, there's a poem in Alice in Wonderland about the Knave of Hearts stealing tarts and I'm PRETTY sure this will now gain some very angsty love trio related significance in future books, because if I were writing it that's 100% how it would play out.
Colleen Oakes does some really kickass worldbuilding here, which I always appreciate. Her descriptions of features of Wonderland are frequently gorgeous and if she created a Wonderland encyclopedia, I would be all over it. As far as actual storytelling, it's really hard to get past
1) Things making sense in Wonderland
2) The (presumably future) Queen of Hearts being so very very very rational and normal.
If you're looking for other Alice in Wonderland retellings, there are SO MANY. I read and liked (more so in retrospect) The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor, and Marissa Meyer of Cinder fame has one coming out this fall, I think, ALSO about the Queen of Hearts (called -- can you guess it? -- HEARTLESS).
...I'm probably gonna read Heartless.