Book review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Goodreads • Amazon
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Source: Borrowed

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite 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.

 

“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”

Heartless is, like all of Meyer’s work, a retelling. This time, she’s retelling Alice in Wonderland from the perspective of the Queen of Hearts. But during the majority of this book, Catherine is just a normal teenage girl. A normal teenage girl who only wants to be a baker. Who only wants to be left alone to live her life. Who certainly does not want to deal with the affections of the idiotic King of Hearts. Who has less than zero desire to be the next Queen of Hearts. All Catherine wants to do is open a bakery with her best friend, Mary Ann.

Her family has other aspirations for her. Her mother thinks that she’d be crazy not to marry the King. A royal life– who wouldn’t want that? So the King’s kind of stupid… whatever. A proposal from him would change Catherine’s life. And so her mother pushes… and pushes… and pushes. Absolutely disregarding Catherine’s discomfort with the whole idea. Not even taking into consideration that Catherine’s affections might lie elsewhere.

Because Catherine is quite taken with the new court joker, Jest. Jest is mysterious, charismatic, and gorgeous. Jest can show her places and things she’s never seen– never even dreamed of. Catherine falls hard and fast for Jest. But are his feelings real? Can their secret romance survive the pressure from her parents and from the King?

Am I still crying? I think it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that I am still crying. I went into this book knowing what would happen. Knowing that Catherine turns into the cruel Queen of Hearts. Knowing that there’s no possible way that everything works out in her favor. But still hoping. Hoping that somehow, some way, Marissa Meyer would work her magic and just let everybody be happy.

Yep, still crying. Definitely still crying.

But I recommend this book so much.

You don’t have to be a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland to enjoy it. The characters from the original are all there, but they’re different than you might remember. It was a simpler, happier time. Much less violence and decapitation. And really, your heart doesn’t get ripped out until the very end. Meyer almost had me fooled.

I wish that I could have lived in this book for a little longer. Part of me wishes that there were a sequel coming, but I also know that this story is finished. Still, I can’t wait to see what Meyer comes up with next.


For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #32: the first book you see in a bookstore. (Which was actually the first book I saw on the Overdrive homepage, but close enough.)

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