Title // Heartless
Author // Marissa Meyer
Publisher // Fewer & Friends
Publication Date // November 8th, 2016
Synopsis // 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.
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5)
I first read this book… 3 years ago when it first came out. And now I just reread it and wow what a trip down memory lane this was. This book gave me a massive book hangover back in the day and made me reevaluate my life and now although I was more prepared for the pain, I still felt it and forgot how harsh it is and wow.
I absolutely adore retellings, and I loved this idea of a retelling/backstory of how the Queen of Hearts got to be that way. Going into the story we already know that Cath, a sweet kind girl, is going to turn into the crazy off-with-your-head screaming Queen, and the book is just a matter of explaining how we get there. And although I already knew what the ending was going to be like, that didn’t stop me from crossing my fingers and hoping that maybe it wouldn’t turn out that way and that maybe Cath could get the happily ever after that she deserved… but of course not. And that just made me hurt a thousand ways more wow this book is so harsh and powerful.
The story also gives the background of many others from the story of Alice in Wonderland, such as the Mad Hatter, the silly King of Hearts, and the mock turtle! Some were just fun Easter eggs to read, and others made my heart ache as I knew the unfortunate fates that would befall them.
I loved all the little Easter eggs and nods to Alice in Wonderland, although this story wasn’t Alice’s tale. Wonderland is so whimsical and mad and I loved getting immersed in that lore. With a terrifying Jabberwock, flamingo and hedgehog croquet, foods to make you grow and shrink, lemon trees that grow from dreams, and so many other whimsical creations, I was just loving the fantastic world the story was set in, and Meyer did a fantastic job of developing it.
I loved the character of Cath–well, at least at the beginning before she turned diabolical! She’s so sweet and determined, and so passionate about her love of baking. She’s living in a sexist time where everyone is telling her what to do and what to be, and yet she continues to fight back and dream of opening her own bakery instead of just being married off passively. And even her descent into madness, as much as it pains me to read because I just want her to be the happy girl that she started out as, was so addictive and enjoyable to read as I could really empathize with her pain and anger and frustration and I could really see what drove her into becoming the villain we know.
And speaking of her determination to open a bakery, I need a whole paragraph just for food appreciation. This book made me SO HUNGRY I was basically salivating the whole time. I mean, lemon tarts, rose macarons, pumpkin cake… To anyone who loves food and desserts this book is sure to make you hungry and that’s not something I’m complaining about! Also I love how Cath’s passion for baking really translates on to the page, such as when she talks about the magic of taking ingredients that would be yucky on their own and mixing them together and creating something wonderful and anyways to all my fellow bakers out there Cath is our people.
I loved many of the other characters too, like Jest! I mean, it was basically a guarantee that I would love Jest since I’m such a sucker for a forbidden love story. And I was just blown away reading the descriptions of his magic tricks! I love how mysterious and interesting and compelling and swoon worthy he is! But also he’s so conflicted in his mission and torn between allegiances, and I just wanted to give him and hug and make everything better.
If I have one complaint about this book, it is that it dragged a little towards the beginning. However, by the end that was totally remedied and I just flew through the last 150 or so pages of this book! Everything started to go right, and then wrong, and then Cath just becomes crazy and my heart is hurting and I knew what was going to happen but I also didn’t know what was going to happen and it’s just a roller coaster. I didn’t love the ending in that it wasn’t a happy ending (obviously), but I also loved the ending in that it was a perfect end to this story, the backstory to the Queen of Hearts, and left me devastated and in emotional turmoil.
Anyways, this was my reread of the book and it was so much fun and if you somehow haven’t read it yet definitely get on that and if you have read it and feel the sudden urge to reread it like I did (because I was starved for more Meyer after finishing Supernova lol) I recommend that too because it was just as amazing the second time around!