I received this book for free from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Written by Marissa Meyer
Published November, 2016 by Pan Macmillan
Provided by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Genres: Fantasy, Re-Tellings
Purchase: The Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
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Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. 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 a secret courtship.
Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
I really enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series, but personally I found Heartless to be a step above them! Whimsical, refreshing and hard to put down, Heartless is a stunning Wonderland re-telling focused on the tragic backstory of the Queen of Hearts.
“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”
I’m always a little apprehensive about re-tellings. I also have to admit straight up that I am not a fan of Lewis Carrol or Alice in Wonderland. Why? Well, I find it to be a bit too bizarre for my tastes and I never really enjoyed any of the Alice-inspired films or re-tellings. However, since this was Marissa Meyer after all, I was willing to take a shot with Heartless. With the promise of shedding some light on a ghastly-yet-interesting villain, I knew that Heartless would be at least on-par with Marissa Meyer’s other stories.
I’m so glad I wasn’t wrong.
The book starts off slowly, but soon gets into the swing of things. Before the Queen of Hearts, there was Lady Catherine Pinkerton; a girl who wants to please her parents and indulge in daydreams of someday owning her very own bakery. I found Catherine’s passion for baking absolutely mouthwatering. As she baked rose macarons, key lime pies and even pumpkin cake, I was suddenly feeling the overwhelming urge to get up and bake myself (or at the very lest, go and buy something sweet and cake-like!) It was a nice touch to the story and I really think it helped round Catherine out into a real, three-dimensional character.
The world of Hearts itself is strange, but not off-putting. Usually I’d be rolling my eyes at a world where lobsters dance upon the shore, riddles are commonplace and warthogs and humans fall in love – but somehow this just worked in Heartless. It became utterly charming and didn’t focus on being too ‘mad’, despite appearances and the inclusion of a very pre-Mad Hatter. There were certain elements that were memorable for me; particularly the magical hats ( little horses on a carousel!) and the whole tea party scene in general. Marissa Meyer did a fantastic job of keeping everything together and not making it too hectic for the reader.
“Perhaps we know each other in the future and you’re only remembering backward.”
Not wanting to be betrothed (as her parents wish) to the bungling, childish King of Hearts, Catherine is helped by his new court joker, Jest. The two quickly form a bond and their friendship turns into a nice little romance with quite a few complications. Jest, of course, has secrets – the main one being his intentions while visiting Hearts. He and his raven companion, Raven, have come from Chess – the world ruled over by the warring Red and White Queens. I won’t spoil too much, but Jest’s reasons for being in Hearts works quite nicely. I really loved the way that the element of time, prophecies, etc. played into this story without being too predictable.
There’s also a Jabberwocky on the loose. Marissa Meyer combines elements of Wonderland with other fairy tales and it just works a treat.
I managed to finish Heartless quicker than I expected given its 400-plus pages. The end had my heart breaking, but also had my mind reeling and understanding. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at the Queen of Hearts the same way again.
While I did have a few minor faults with the book, overall I found it to be quite an enjoyable read. The writing was exquisite and the world-building light and quirky. I find myself actually a little disappointed that this isn’t part of a series. I would have loved to see more of Catherine’s adventures, but given the way it ended, I understand why it’s a standalone.
Heartless will be going down as one of my favourite reads this year!
I’d like to thank Pan Macmillan Australia for sending a me a review copy and inviting me to be part of the blog tour for ‘Heartless’!
Lizzie Hearts is one of my favourite Ever After High dolls and I thought it was only fitting she be pictured with her mother’s ‘back-story’!