I actually heard of this series when I saw the sequel The Wonder on NetGalley. When my request was approved, I started hunting down a copy of the book to read before starting on my review copy.
And.... I LOVED THIS BOOK! It's a short read, and I finished it in less than one day, but it made me very grateful that I had the second book ready, because I dearly want to find out what happens next.
Queen of Hearts follows Dinah (did anyone think of Alice's cat?), Princess of Wonderland. Of course, we all know her as the Queen of Hearts. But what we don't know is that her father hates her, her little brother is an insane but brilliant hat maker (you should know who he is), and as the book starts, she finds out she has her half-sister. To make it worse, her half-sister is her opposite - blonde and dainty, and more beloved by her.
While Dinah started out as a whiny princess, I found that I could sympathise with her almost immediately. I felt sorry for her, because to be so obviously held in contempt while someone newcomer gets the love and attention she wanted has to be trying, no matter how good a temper you have. And I found myself identifying with Dinah's bad temper because I can have quite a temper as well (trying to change that though). Dinah is not a perfect character, her flaws are huge and since she becomes a villainess, you know she'll just get worse, but I found that I really liked her as a character.
As for the other characters, the only other character that made a favourable impression on me was Charles, the mad hatter. He was adorable in his own way, and I could see why Dinah was so protective of him. I really admire how she declared that when she was queen, she wouldn't hide him away but bring him to every function as well.
The world building here is excellent! It's a much darker world than the Disney film, which suits the tone of the book wonderfully. The world is very detailed, but I never felt as though I was being hit by too much information.
I cannot wait to start of the second book! This is a fast-paced read with characters that all have flaws. Sure, I think that Wonderland would be better as a republic instead of being ruled by monarchs with short tempers, but I'm still going to be rooting for Dinah through this series.