Author: Colleen Oakes
Genre: young adult, fantasy, retelling, fairy tales
Series: Queen of Hearts #2
Source: publishers via NetGalley
An Exiled Princess.
An Ancient Tribe.
A Dangerous Stranger with Unknown Loyalties.
Dinah, the former Princess of Wonderland Palace, has been chased into the wilds of Wonderland after the brutal murder of her brother and the ruin of her impending crown. Now, as her half-sister Vittiore sits on the throne beside her Father, the brutal King of Hearts, Dinah finds herself alone in the forbidding Twisted Wood with only Morte, a homicidal beast, for company.
Hunted by the King and his army of Cards, Dinah struggles to evade those who long for her head, including Cheshire, the King’s clever advisor, who is slowly tightening his grasp around her. Spurred on by her rising terror, the former Princess finds herself at the center of a web of conspiracy reaching far beyond the Palace and deep into the mysterious Yurkei mountain tribes.
Even with the balance of an entire Kingdom at stake, Dinah knows something that her allies and enemies do not: that the most dangerous conflict of all has already begun as she battles the enticing rage that beckons her ever closer as love slips further from her grasp.
The second book in the bestselling and award-winning Queen of Hearts Saga, The Wonder takes readers back to the most wondrous and curious places in Wonderland, and continues this darkly addictive tale featuring one of the most infamous villains of all time.
But be warned…not every fairy tale has a happy ending.
This is the story of a princess who became a villain.
So The Wonder was pretty a solid read but it was not as spectacular as its predecessor. I liked continuing prickly Dinah's journey and characterization into more than a spoiled royal --- the introduction of Sir Gorrann as a foil for the exiled princess is fantastic -- but the book was hampered by the (lack of) length and the placeholder feel of the plot. Dinah continues to shine as a great example of imperfect protagonist. She is flawed but her flaws make her interesting.
I also enjoyed the inclusion of the nomadic horseriders, the Yurkei, to the plot and worldbuilding, though they don't really do all that much or stray outside of pretty standard fantasy tropes. This is a creative retelling and Oakes has a good imagination. I wasn't too thrilled with how quickly the romance led to Dinah's "bitter woman" thoughts but I am also beyond excited to see her come into her own as the Queen of Hearts.
More than anything this can feels like an extended set up for The Fury, the series final novel, and needed more time and plotting to really surprise as a sequel. There were a few good twists thrown in, but The Wonder lacks the finesse of the first. This is a darker novel and features some unpleasant/creepy scenes but it fits; I continue to enjoy Oakes's clever and harsh reinterpretation of the Alice in Wonderland staples.
Danielle's review of The Wonder