REVIEW: Playing Hearts by W.R. Gingell

29235125Title: Playing Hearts
Author: W.R. Gingell
Published: March 10, 2016
Format: Ebook
Goodreads | Amazon

It begins the way it has always begun: with a card on Mabel’s pillow. But Mabel has been in Underland–or Wonderland–before, and she’s not so anxious to go back. No matter what name it takes, Underland is always bizarre, always mad, always dangerous.
There’s the Queen of Hearts, terrifying, powerful, and possibly insane.
There’s Hatter, purple-eyed and undoubtedly mad.
March Hare has always been one sandwich short of a picnic, and Sir Blanc is missing his wits.
And then there’s Jack. Jack the aristocratic son of the Queen. Not quite mad, but not far off. Disinclined to help anyone but himself. A liar.
And, thanks to an ancient ceremony performed by the Queen, Mabel’s fiance.
Fall into the rabbit hole with Mabel as she climbs through tea-pots, battles the Jabberwock, and attempts to overthrow the Queen of Hearts herself.
Don’t lose your head.
And whatever you do, don’t be late…

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This is a lovely novella full of unique situations, great characters, and similarities to “Alice in Wonderland”. It was different in its own way though, despite the similarities, so I applaud the author for a job well done!

In the beginning, we follow Mable as she first visits Underland and is blood bonding to Jack at the young age of 3. We follow her journey all the way to the end when Jack is a month or so away from being 25. At first her visits are pleasant and happy, so she’s always eager to return, especially after she met Hater and Hare. But it gradually becomes a place full of terror as the Queen tends to love spilling blood when she’s bored. Mable’s presence leads to a rebellion, and when something terrible happens to a friend of hers, she swears never to return to keep them safe. However, the rebellion takes action.

I adore how the author wrote Mable’s gradual understanding of Underland. She goes from knowing how she gets there to figuring out better methods of visiting. Then she finds out she can see them through water, and then change things, and then hear them. She experiments with things until she finds out a new method of connecting with Underland, which I thought was well paced. Her voice doesn’t really change as she grows though, which was a little disappointing, but everything else that changed in her was well done. She takes action, finds out the truth, and she stands up for what she believes in, even if that’s freeing a bunch of prisoners or tricking the Queen.

Which brings me to the fight at the end. It was a little too lackluster for me, as it seemed so simple and made me wonder why Mable didn’t do it before but it was still good.

The pacing is fast at times, but it mostly maintained an even pace throughout the novella. I like how things happened and I wouldn’t change anything, not even to make something happen quicker or not at all.

The plot is great. Mable spends a large portion of the book learning things about Underland and herself, bettering her skill and getting stronger. She does that in multiple ways, whether it’s saving her friends from a creature or watching as things happen. This means that by the time she has to fight, she’s well prepared.

Overall, this novella is great, and I definitely recommend it to anyone.

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