Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date: February 9th 2017
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland – the infamous Queen of Hearts – she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favourite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
I was really excited for this book to be released. I am a massive fan of both Marissa Meyer and Alice in Wonderland, so a book by one of my favourite authors inspired by one of my favourite fairytales was always going to be an auto-buy for me. I’ve seen some mixed reviews for Heartless but overall I really enjoyed it; the plot was kind of slow to start and there was a little insta-love between Cath and Jest, but overall it was a great story.
As the daughter of a marquess Cath is destined for greater things than owning a bakery with her best friend, but that is what she wants. She is a great baker; all of the Wonderland courtiers and the King love her desserts, and together with Mary Ann who has a head for numbers Cath believes she can be a success. But when she discovers by accident that the King intends to ask for her hand it puts all her plans in disarray.
She flees from the ball with the help of Cheshire and Jest, the new Joker in the court of Hearts, and manages to miss the Jabberwocky attack that later occurs.
The Kingdom of Hearts is scared, but all Cath’s parents can think of is the King asking for her hand. Cath plans to say no, all the while working towards her goal of opening her own bakery and spending more time with Jest. But while attending a tea party Cath finds herself in the middle of a Jabberwocky attack, and later discovers there’s more to Jest than what she’s seen so far.
For the most part this book was about Cath’s journey, her discovering who she is and what she wants out of life. It seems like everyone wants something from her that Cath herself doesn’t want. All Cath wants is to open a bakery with Mary Ann, a dream she seems determined to make a reality no matter how many people believe otherwise.
Cath is a dreamer; ever since she started baking and discovered her love for it she has been holding tight onto the dream of owning the best bakery in all of Hearts. She keeps believing in her dream even with her mother pressuring her to marry the King and Mary Ann starting to doubt whether their dream will become a reality. Cath wants to live her own life following her own dream and falling in love herself rather than being forced into a marriage she doesn’t want.
Even in the beginning you can see the glimmers of the mad Queen of Hearts you know from the original tale in Cath. Some of her thoughts, that may only there for an instant, are dark and slightly mad.
Jest is a wonder; he’s magic and probably slightly mad himself. Jest knows a lot more than what he reveals to Cath, and his own thoughts and emotions are very hard to read. He seems to have feelings for Cath, seeking her out, even if it’s just meeting her eyes in the middle of a crowd, but at the same time he’s helping the King with his courtship and telling Cath she should accept his proposal. I don’t think Jest himself knows what he really wants but there is part of him that is drawn to Cath.
It felt a little bit too much like insta-love between Cath and Jest. When their eyes meet for the first time at the ball there is an instant attraction between them but after that they seem to fall in love very quickly. The relationship between them is heartbreaking at the same time though; based on the original story you know how things turn out for Cath, and you know what that must mean for her and Jest at some point.
The relationship Cath has with her parents is a distant one. Her father constantly seems cowed by her mother’s determination and strong will, and all her mother wants is for Cath to marry the King. They say they love her and only want her to be happy but at the same time they seem to override her wishes for what they think is best for her. Maybe that’s what parents are supposed to do but you can see how it affects Cath trying to make her parents proud of her while still following her dreams.
One of the things I most looked forwards to in Heartless was the setting of Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland is my favourite story and I loved the opportunity to go back and see it before Alice fell down the rabbit hole. There was more history behind the King of Hearts and the marquess of Rock Turtle Cove, more history behind Hatta and the Red and White Queens of the kingdom of Chess. There’s the Jabberwocky, the vorpal sword, croquet and tea parties. However at the same time Cath’s life feels more like it belongs in Regency era England than among the courtiers of Wonderland. I loved this book but at the same time I wish there had been a little more of the crazy Wonderland influences I loved so much in the original tale.
If you’ve read Alice in Wonderland then you know how this story ends for Cath, but despite that you still hope for a different ending to her tale; at least I certainly did. It was hard to read this at times knowing Cath’s happiness would never last, but at the same time it was wonderful getting this new look into the life of the Queen of Hearts before Alice tumbled into Wonderland.
What did you think of Heartless? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.