Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication date: November 17, 2016
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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.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen. At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she 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.
“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”
To start this review off, here are a couple of responses I received when I showed this book on my social media:
“I don’t think you’ll enjoy this. It’s very slow and nothing happens much”
“I was very unimpressed with this one. Don’t get your hopes up too much”
So, to be fair, I did lower my expectations a whole lot because I thought this book was going to be overrated.
But I am so glad I turned out lovin’ this book !
It was so unexpected because the beginning was slow and nothing major actually happens. But, if you’ve read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, you’ll know how Wonderland is set. With its melancholic settings and vibrant characters scattered throughout the book, I found Heartless to be a wonderful rendition of the Land of Hearts itself.
“Mind my words, Cheshire, I will have you banished from this kingdom if you tempt me.”
“An empty threat from an empty girl.”
She rounded on him, teeth flashing. “I am not empty. I am full to the brim with murder and revenge. I am overflowing and I do not think you wish for me to overflow on to you.”
“There was a time” – Cheshire yawned – “when you overflowed with whimsy and icing sugar. I liked that Catherine better.”
In terms of plot, this book isn’t up for much. So if you’re expecting adventurous fantasy for the to-be Queen of Hearts, then that is where you will be sorely disappointed. But if you don’t mind a slow heart warming read that shatters your heart into pieces in the most agonising way, then Heartless is perfect!
The story develops as we see what led to Cath becoming the ruthless Queen of Hearts and the journey that gave the phrase “Off with his head” such character. We get to see the older side of Hearts and some lovable characters reappear — the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter (who’s known as Hatta in this one). To see them progress into the characters I first found in Alice and discover their secrets before meeting Alice was a wonderful experience for me.
Though not having much adventures or major occurrences in the book, Heartless will tug your heartstrings in rooting for Cath and wishing some alternate ending was at the end of the book. When the inevitable comes on that last page, you can’t help but to feel sorrow for the Queen of Hearts and how she came to be.
I love how Heartless is so similar to Wicked where the Wicked Witch of the West was portrayed in a positive manner to question “Are you born wicked or do you develop wickedness later in life?”. And Heartless is a matter of the latter.
I ended up liking Cath so much in Heartless! Her aspirations to become a baker and open her own bakery touched my heart and I was rooting for her throughout the book. Meyer also happens to like making her readers drool while reading because her descriptions of the pastries and confections Cath makes throughout the book is divine!
And then, there’s Jest the Joker who was equally charming, giving off that mysterious yet sincere vibe from someone who just arrived in Hearts. You can’t help but to be attracted to him and how he treats Cath, not as a Marquess’ daughter, but as an individual person.
“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”
Mayer wrote the characters so well in this one that I didn’t feel any important character was left out. Even Cath’s over-protective but well meaning parents were described very well in the book!
We also got to see many of these character’s selves before meeting Alice and what secrets they held long time before that. I especially liked the Mad Hatter origins and thought his history was unique and held so much importance over the story.
Overall, I truly, truly enjoyed Heartless and would recommend this if you enjoyed Lewis Caroll’s works in Alice. Heartless is a wonderful and quick journey to remind us the power of imagination and celebrate Caroll’s works that has inspired so many stories and imaginations.
Have you read this and what did you think about it?