Dust jacket off? Check. (I actually can’t read hard covers with their dust jackets, despite preferring the hard cover for their sturdiness.) Time to read a retelling of wonderland oh too soon.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Synopsis From The Book
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.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I don’t know why I let this collect dust in my TBR. I think it stems from the fact that I thought that it was a series novel and not a stand alone novel. It being a stand alone novel changes everything. I can read this without fear of being held back by the need for sequels. How pleasing!
I’ve heard good things about Marissa Meyer, but I have never read her works (they are on my too find the book to read it, list). This is an Alice in Wonderland “prequel” novel. Let us begin?
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
I have read many retellings of this story. I’m not sure I’ve liked many as much as I liked this one. I loved watching the change for Cath. I adored the ways in which she became a new person. This? This was a fantastic book and an excellent standalone novel. As much as I wish there was more, I’m happy with where it is. I am very happy with how it ended. When was the last time I gave a regular book (not poems) a 5/5? I’m not entirely sure I know.
I do know that I must — I repeat must — read more of Marissa Meyer’s works. She writes brilliantly and her character journey was brilliant for Cath in this book.
Catherine Pinkerton is the daughter of the Marchioness of Hearts, Kingdom of Wonderland. She loves baking with her friend Mary Ann and wishes to open a bakery. When she is at a ball for the king she discovers that the king wants her as queen. Deciding that is not what she wants she runs away and meets the Court Joker, charming Jest. Jest has haunted her dreams as of late, without knowing him. He takes her to a tea party where she meets Hatta (Mad Hatter) and Haigha (March Hare). She discovers that Jest is from Chess, the land across the Looking Glass of the Queendoms of Red and White. He is trying to end their eternal war. Cath falls for Jest. The King tries to court Cath. Jabberwockys attack and Cath defends herself becoming a legend. She discovers what Jest’s mission fully entails — stealing her heart for the White Queen — and travels with him to Chess.
A prophecy is given. Cath must decide. The choice she makes becomes her undoing to become the cruel Queen of Hearts.
What I Liked:
Cath; Queen Catherine of Hearts. My lovely queen who went from being a sweet girl who wanted nothing more than to be a baker, to being the most ruthless queen of all. She just wanted to be a baker. That was all she wanted. Then the King wanted her, and her mother wouldn’t let her be. Then she fell for a boy, her heart was broken, and rage was all she let herself become. Watching her struggle and become the Queen of Hearts was an ordeal, brilliantly written, and wonderfully paced. I feel for Cath, I truly do. But Cath never wanted her to become the Queen of Hearts. The rest of the world did.
Jest; Our mysterious male lead who fell for Catherine. He intended to steal her heart away but instead she stole his. While this story was very much so about Catherine, I did like him. I would have loved to know more about him back in Chess but what I got I liked.
Secondary and Additional Characters; They supported the story, drew it forward, and led us to our conclusion. Everyone was a very specific type of person. All of their personalities were splendid and watching them become who they are in Alice’s story is awesome. I particularly like Cath’s mother, Hatta, the Sisters, and the King. Cath’s mother was not cruel but did not listen. When she realized what she had done it was too late and fate had been sealed. Hatta was so fascinating in his jealousy and need to become anything but mad. The Sisters were fate, odd and ethereal. Then the King, the poor, simple King, who loved a girl. He was so simple that I loved him, and so easily controlled once Catherine became what she was fated to become.
References to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as well as to Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. ; There were many and they were beautiful.
Simplicity of the plot; We followed our characters. There wasn’t too much going on. For anyone who knows of the stories it is based on, you know the lines they reference and the worlds. The simplicity of the plot allowed for us to explore the degradation of our lovely Queen of Hearts.
A relatively good balance of mayhem and whimsy.; It was this point and this point alone that captured my heart from the beginning pages. Mayhem? Chaos? Whimsy? Love? All wrapped up in a beautiful way? This book takes the essence of the tale and uses it to its advantage. I adore it.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
A longer third act; I wasn’t angry with the fact that the end went by so quickly. I simply wish that there was more to it. The Cruel Cath was absolutely stunning to see, especially with how she was so kind fo begin with. I wanted more.
Time Taken To Read
“No I haven’t heard anything about him.”
“Neither have I.”
“Cheshire, that is the opposite of a rumor.” – Cath to Cheshire pg 45
“‘Tisn’t rude to rebuke an arbitrary greeting, a nonsense question upon first meeting. To be all right implies an impossible phase. We hope for mostly right on the best of our days.” – Raven pg 51
“I see nothing all the time” – Jest pg56
“These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl… They happen only in nightmares.” – Cheshire pg 93
“But hoping, is how the impossible can be possible after all.” – Cheshire pg 426
‘ She spoke without the 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. ‘ – About Cath.