Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: "The Crown" by Colleen Oakes


Title: The Crown
Author: Colleen Oakes
Genre: Fairytale Retold
Publication: February 14, 2014
Pages: 222


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.


Quite a twisted little fairytale!

If you're wanting a story filled with curious magic, quirky characters, and peculiar sweets, all set in a charming yet just-dangerous-enough environment then you are barking up the wrong tree.

Coleen Oakes' "The Crown" is a dark retelling of an otherwise fluffy tale. Selfish children, palace intrigue, mammoth horses that live for bloodshed, evil kings, gruesome murder, loathsome magic, and mayhem in general make this book a gloomy yet intriguing version of its predecessor.

Dinah is petulant but intelligent and struggles to survive in a palace full of people who'd rather see her living out the rest of her days in the dark towers, a vile and poisonous prison. Her father hates her, and what's worse is he's taken his illegitimate daughter, who is everything that Dinah isn't (fair, delicate, well mannered, and so on) under his wing.

Dinah's only comfort is that upon her next birthday she will be crowned Queen, as per the laws of her land. Of course we know that's not how thing work out. Now Dinah is on the run, leaving a trail of broken bodies in her wake (yeugh!). Well, they were mostly all bad-guys. So at least there's that.

I applaud Ms. Oaks on giving new and unexpected identities to well known characters, including the Mad Hatter, the Walrus, and the Knave of Hearts.

The downfalls of this work for me are centered mostly around the fact that Dinah is a little too unlikeable. The romance is also a bit stiff and the violence seems somewhat excessive. However, the imagery is vivid and the retelling imaginative.

A sure recommendation for anyone with an interest in dark retellings of otherwise fluffy stories.

Auggie is the 28 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk, a part-time Reference Librarian with a degree in Anthropology and a nearly completed Masters in Library Science. A bibliobibuli by nature and a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. One can normally find Auggie neck deep in reading, writing, or daydreaming (sometimes all three at once).  She's also been known to drink too much caffeine and eat too many lemon flavored sweets.


  1. I liked seeing the Queen of Hearts in another daylight and I also liked what she did with all the other famous Wonderland characters. I'm curious about the sequel :)

    1. I'm curious about the sequel, too! I have it on my TBR list and it's waiting on my Kindle. I'm a little concerned about what I'll find, haha!