Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Published on November 8th 2016
Genres: Retelling, Young Adult
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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 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.
“You have my heart, Jest. I don’t know if you deserve it or not. I can’t tell if you’re a hero or a villain, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Either way, my heart is yours.”
If you previously read Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, then you know she has a special gift when it comes to fairy tale retellings. The way she can take a classic and put a spin on it while maintaining it’s original structure somewhere underneath is fantastic. The writing is beautiful, from the romance to the action. When I found out about Heartless, not a retelling, but a backstory to a classic fairy tale villain, I knew it was bound to be amazing. If anyone could pull this off, it would be Meyer.
Fortunately, I was not disappointed. The writing is gorgeous. Everything is depicted so wonderfully. The setting and characters take on the familiar, whimsical and strange personality that we know and love from Carroll’s Wonderland, but she doesn’t push it too far. We are not unnecessarily bogged down with attempts to remind us of how weird things should be. The more in depth descriptions were well timed and placed to remind me of what a magical world we are in.
The romance was slow and sweet. I enjoyed Cath so much! I did have my moments where I hated how indecisive she could be, and how much she was letting other people control her or guilt her into things. But it was all necessary to the story. Jest – my goodness, JEST! Ugh how I adore you. The compassion, the honesty, the risks he would take for Cath… just so wonderful. So much swooning. I hated moments when they were apart. I hated the directions they were both being torn. But I loved them, and I loved them together.
She spoke without feeling, unburdened by love or dreams or the pain of a broken heart. It was a new day in Hearts, and she was the Queen.
There was such a unique spin on so many characters, and so many aspects of various fairy tales and poems. I especially loved Hatta. And Raven. I would love to see a full story for Hatta, because there was something so dark about him, but also sexy and intriguing. I found myself wanting more of him, while also feeling sorry for him at times, between his battle with time and, in the end, his heart. I would love to see him fall in love and beat out the insanity that he is so scared of. Raven was always present, even if just in the shadows, and in the end became a vital part of the story.
But if you are familiar at all with the Queen of Hearts, then you know how she turned out to be. The end of the book is heart pounding and gut wrenching. I could physically feel myself turning angry and vengeful with Cath. I was able to share her pain and feel it, even when she no longer could. Meyer provided a sad, beautiful backstory that is sure to make every reader think twice about their feelings toward the feared, bloody Queen of Hearts.