I was kindly sent a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Return to the magic of Wonderland with this beautiful and heartbreaking origin story for the infamous Queen of Hearts, before she was shouting "Off With Their Heads!"
As the daughter of a Marquee, Catherine's dreams of opening a bakery with her maid and friend seem just that, dreams. But Catherine is determined to turn her passion and hobby into a career. However, with the King of Hearts showing favour to Catherine, her mother has different plans for her. She wants Catherine to be Queen, no matter how Catherine actually feels about it all. All she wants is to bake. But all that changes when the new Joker, Jest, arrives in Hearts. Now all she wants is to bake and fall in love on her own terms. But being the daughter of a Marquee means she can't have what her heart wants. With a Jabberwocky threatening the kingdom, a King determined to marry her, and a Joker with her heart, Catherine's world could come crashing down at any moment with whatever decisions she makes. But, as we all know, something happens to Catherine that makes her heartless.
This was not only the first Marissa Meyer book that I've read, but also my first Alice in Wonderland retelling/origin story. I love being in Wonderland, and Marissa captured the magical and mysterious essence of Lewis Carroll's world so well. While it took me about 50 pages to get into the story because of it's initial slow pace and world building, I was soon down the rabbit hole not wanting to leave.
When I read Alice In Wonderland, I felt like Lewis Carroll was completely mad when he wrote it - the story was great, but his writing style was confusing and jumpy at times. With Heartless it was so easy to immerse myself into the world. The way Marissa describe everything was beautiful and I'd love to see her write more about Wonderland. The book was so easy to read and to vividly imagine the wondrous world of Wonderland.
While I've never thought of the Queen of Hearts as a true villain in Alice's story, I so desperately wanted this story to have a happy ending. We know how the Queen turns but, so obviously something had to happen to cause her to become 'heartless'. But throughout the entire book I forgot that I was reading about the future Queen of Hearts who is always threatening to chop people's heads off. I loved what Marissa did with this story, despite the inevitable ending. I was heartbroken, but it's the way the story is meant to go.
Being one of my most anticipated releases for 2016, Heartless certainly lived up to my expectations. It also lived up to the hype surrounding Marissa Meyer. I didn't want this story to end and I was definitely not ready to leave Wonderland at the end. If you love the original story and are fascinated by the Queen of Hearts, you'll definitely enjoy the spin that Marissa put on her story. I'm definitely interested now to pursue some more origin stories for the Queen of Hearts.
Get ready to escape into the magical world of Wonderland and not only learn about the infamous Queen of Hearts, but also meet some of our favourite Wonderland characters before Alice fell down the rabbit hole.
I am a huge fan of Marissa Meyer especially after having read 'Cinder' and when I heard she was coming up with a novel based on 'Wonderland', I just knew I had to get a copy. Well, the book has definitely lived up to my expectations. I had to take a bit of time to gather all my feelings together and I think I'm finally calm enough to give an adequate review :)
As always Marissa's writing is phenomenal in this book. I found the descriptions of Wonderland, the characters and events delightfully odd and whimsical. The worldbuilding is very immersive and she has done an amazing job of portraying this fantastical world that many of us are aware of. I know that many readers have categorized this novel as a retelling but I feel it's more of a backstory to the Queen of Hearts. In the sense, we get a better understanding of how she became the villain that she is. I found this rather refreshing because most Wonderland books seem to be based on Alice and this shows things from a whole different perspective.
With regards to Catherine, I found her to be very relatable because I sort of understand the position she is faced with. She has so many hurdles that she tries to overcome but no matter how hard she tries, fate seems to have other plans for her. I felt so crushed by the things she had to endure. The society she lived in seemed so old fashioned and cruel. While the King who she is to marry was a complete fool and not to mention her over-bearing parents. The only light in her life is Jest and I think he was a truly unique character. I found him to be very lovable. I would say he was the perfect book boyfriend. By the end of the story, I can definitely say my view of the Queen of Hearts has changed. I can't help but feel compassion and sympathy for her.
The pace of the novel is, however, rather slow. It begins with Cath trying to pursue her dreams of becoming a baker along with her best friend. There were long drawn out instances of her plans and events where she baked things which was a tad bit boring. But the middle and end of the story made up for it a lot. I guess this book was more based on characterization than plot which Marissa seems to have pulled off really well.
My only frustration with the story was at times with Cath. I wish she had some guts to pursue what she believed in. I felt at times she just caved in to circumstances. I don't think real life is like that. We are called to pursue our dreams and take the opportunity to change our circumstances. But I get why, Cath made the decisions that she did and that was to give the ending the book needed. Though it is still frustrating nonetheless. For me, I guess the story stirred up some deeper emotions about life and sometimes having the nerve to stand up for yourself. I guess that's what makes this book really good :)
Overall, a wonderful read and a great addition to the Wonderland retellings. Please tell me this is a series. I hope it is because I would love to read the backstories of the other characters like maybe the White and Red Queens? That would be awesome :)
Heartless is the first stand-alone fantasy novel by American author, Marissa Meyer. Lady Catherine Pinkerton, daughter of the Marquess of Rock Turtle Cove, has one fervent desire: to open her own bakery in the Main Street of the Kingdom of Hearts. But her ambitious mother has other ideas. Determined that her daughter will draw the King’s attention, the Marchioness ensures that Cath is the only one dressed in red at the King’s Black and White Ball. And this is where Cath meets the man of her dreams (literally), but it’s not the King.
Every good story needs a character to despise, but did you ever wonder how the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland got to be so imperious, so cranky, so very despicable? Marissa Meyer has given us her story. And what a tale it is! This prequel has all the essential Alice elements: the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the March Hare, the King of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the dreaded Jabberwock, as well as borrowing from other fiction and introducing brand new characters.
Meyer gives the reader an ingenious plot with a few twists and an exciting climax. There is plenty of humour which takes the form of witty dialogue, a good dose of irony, a generous helping of puns and lots of other word play, including clever rhymes. There’s magic and an abundance of echoes of the original Alice. And there are moments that will cause a lump in the throat and maybe even a tear or two. This is a brilliant read and readers will wonder to what Meyer will turn her considerable talents next. Recommended.
The Queen of Hearts is one of the most infamous characters from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" -- a temperamental queen who regularly demands beheadings.
And having given an epic sci-fi spin to traditional fairy tales, Marissa Meyer turns her attention to another public-domain story in "Heartless" -- the story of how a bright young baker became the infamous Queen. It's a rather more orderly Wonderland than you'll find in Carroll's stories (though with many familiar faces), but Meyer makes up for it with richly evocative writing and a well-developed main character at its heart.
Catherine Pinkerton is less interested in showing herself off at court than she is in making the perfect lemon tarts, so she can be the greatest baker in the Kingdom of Hearts. But her mother will not be denied -- and on the very night she's presented at court, the King decides to announce that he's going to marry Catherine, which is only interrupted by an attack from the Jabberwock. But Catherine -- who is intrigued by the elusive, bizarre Joker, Jest -- can't imagine anything worse than being trapped in marriage to the King.
So while the King courts her, Catherine finds herself falling in love with Jest instead -- which is a slight problem, since all of society is pressuring her to accept the King and sacrifice all her dreams. And even worse, the Jabberwock's attacks are coming more and more often. With her options growing slimmer by the day, Catherine finds that she may be trapped into an engagement against her will -- and when she tries to seize the life she wants, she finds that her terrible fate may be immovable.
I tend to find it a bit difficult to read most "Alice in Wonderland"-based fantasy stories, because they invariably have to discard the one thing that sets Wonderland apart from all other fantasy worlds -- the nonsense. Meyer has to jettison the surreality of Wonderland, but she keeps in a considerable amount of weirdness (fruit trees tend to grow in Catherine's bedroom) and humorous nonsense ("Fire her? For being a terrible cook? What cruelty." "But . . . she’s a cook." "Yes. And cook she does.... Just not well").
Her writing is swift and smooth, with little ornate moments ("with white-silver hair that cascaded down her back and skin the colour of milk thinned with water"); the moments when Jest is onstage are particularly enchanting, as he's all bright eyes, quicksilver emotions and raven feathers. Familiar faces from Wonderland are also here (the King of Hearts, the Mad "Hatta," the Marchioness, the Caterpillar, the Mock Turtle, and of course the Cheshire Cat), sculpted into distinct personalities that work well within Meyer's story, as well as the subplots she whips up (a secondary romance between a prudish maiden and a man with a warthog head).
And despite the whimsical setting of the story, its final act takes a distinctly dark turn, entwining the reappearance of the Jabberwock with the terrible prophecies of the Sisters. It's a credit to Meyer's skill that she can make a story in Wonderland so gripping and dark, without a shred of out-of-place whimsy.
It's also a credit that she creates an early version of the Queen of Hearts that is recognizable -- she's a commanding girl with a temper, she has a sweet tooth, she tends towards chubbiness, she develops a violent hatred of white roses -- but thoroughly likable, especially as she wrestles with her own desires versus those forced on her by her parents and the King. But we all know where her story will end, and it becomes clear that only something soul-crushingly tragic could lead to that.
Marissa Meyer gives a haunting new twist to the world of Wonderland in "Heartless," an exquisite and devastating little fantasy that lets you see how the Queen of Hearts came to be. A powerful and clever tale, on either side of the Looking Glass.