Heartbreaking and Triumphantly Satisfying Ending | Review of ‘War of the Cards’ (Queen of Heart Saga #3)

By Cynthia Ayala

War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes
Image Credit: Goodreads

“Dinah has lost everyone she ever loved. Her brother was brutally murdered. The wicked man she believed was her father betrayed her. Her loyal subjects have been devastated by war. And the boy she gave her heart to broke it completely. Now a dark queen has risen out of the ashes of her former life. Fury is blooming inside Dinah, poisoning her soul and twisting her mind. All she has left is Wonderland and her crown, and her obsession to fight for both. But the war rages on, and Dinah could inherit a bloodstained throne. Can a leader filled with love and rage ever be the ruler her kingdom needs? Or will her all-consuming wrath bring Wonderland to its knees? This is not a story of happily ever after. This is the story of the Queen of Hearts.” —Goodreads

Published November 7, 2017 by HarperTeen War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes is the final book in the re-imagining trilogy about the infamous Queen of Hearts and her rise to power.

War of the Cards is not a story for the faint-hearted. This story is about the Queen of Hearts and her rise to power, the story of her anger and her heartbreak and the pain she has suffered through it all. Moreover, what a story it is. Collen Oakes has achieved something quite impressive with this series, ending the series with a resounding and emotional bang. It is incredible how the story has moved, how the characters have grown and how the dynamics have shifted with each new revelation. It is riveting, every page, every chapter drew the reader in and created an excellent page-turner. Moreover, it is unpredictable. Readers know this is not a story that is going to have a happy ending, the Queen of Hearts is the villain, always and forever, but for the series, she has been the heroine everyone needed, the hero that Wonderland needed to save it from the tyrannical King of Hearts. However, the darkness within her, that rage, it is so compelling and so realistic at the same time. Rage and heartbreak can often be blinding, so blinding it takes over, and to see it fester, to see it grow and take over, to see Dinah try to snuff it out and win over it. It is such a vibrant definition of her character that gives her the depth she so desperately needs, as well as the growth. Dinah has come a long way from the first novel from being the meek naive girl who let her emotions overpower her. Yes, there are still times, heartbreaking times, that her emotions overpower her, but that only serves to make her a more realistic and human character. She has been built up by all the people around her to be some hero, but the Queen of Hearts is no hero, every fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland know that. Dinah is a character that should be feared as well as loved, and the readers here get to see that. Those moments of power, of how she has grown to make the novel better because there is growth here, as well as a shift in dynamics that strengthen the plot and origin of the Queen of Hearts.

While Dinah is an intimidating character and the selling point of the novel, the story itself is sharp and fast-paced. Where the previous novel was a bit slow, this novel just keeps moving. Every chapter is energetic, filled with battle, political change, and plot twist after plot twist. But not once does the story flinch away. No, the story flows effortlessly drawing the reader into those tense moments, into the moments that will make the reader gasp. The emotions just jump off the pages, that is how good the writing it, that is how well the Oakes drew the reader into the story, wrapping them within the folds of pages. Each scene is perfectly detailed, leaving enough room for the imagination to take over and put the reader into the story. It is incredible storytelling, leading up to a bittersweet and excellently wrapped up ending.

On another note, there is just one minor flaw in the story. While many of the callbacks to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were placed just right in the story, there was one or two that came off forced. It is not weak writing, not at all, but they just came out of nowhere and, unlike all the other callbacks that were subtle and cleverly written, were very on the nose. It took away just a little bit of magic in an otherwise fantastic conclusion. A good novel is one that stays with the reader, and War of the Cards is one of those. (★★★★★ | A)

Product Details:

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

Page count: 352pp

Age Range: 13 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-0624-0981-2

Publisher: HarperTeen

List Price:  $17.99

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