Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Source: Purchased at Target
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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.
Alice fans will absolutely love this book! There was so much of Wonderland brought through these pages. The story did a great job of giving unique back stories to all the classic characters we’ve come to know and love. As a HUGE fan of Alice in Wonderland, it was so fun to see an Alice retelling before Alice went down the rabbit hole. Emma from emmabooks compared this story to Wicked as the retelling completely changes what we know and how we view the characters. I have to agree 100%.
Heartless introduces us to Cath, daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove. Cath’s dream is to be a baker and open up her own shop with her best friend (and maid) Mary Ann; however, Cath is a lady and her parents wish for her to marry the King of Hearts. On the night where the King is to propose to her, Cath becomes enamored with the new court joker, Jest. Quick note, I love how this book never went into full love triangle territory, just forbidden love. I wouldn’t quite call this insta-love either. It was more affection and wonder at the beginning, but it wasn’t a slow burn romance either.
Jest is easily my favorite character in this book. He seems mysterious and funny; the perfect book boyfriend material. I did like Catherine, up until the end (we’ll get more into that in the spoiler corner), and the other characters were true to their other Wonderland counter parts. They weren’t the characters Alice met, but you could see how they became them.
For the story, I was cautiously reading until the end. I knew where the story would have to go because I know who Cath was to become, but I really didn’t want the story to go there. That’s the trouble with prequels, it’s like reading fate. That being said, the whimsy of the story was impeccable. There were a couple of plot points that took me completely by surprise, while others were slightly predictable. I wasn’t in love with the ending, as there were a couple of things I would have done differently, but overall I truly enjoyed this story
Okay, let’s start with the ending. I wasn’t thrilled with the story after Jest’s death. Chelsea from chelseadolling reads mentions how she felt like Cath’s character change and motivation appears to come out of nowhere. I definitely agree with this. I felt like Cath was not acting out of grief, but was already acting like the Queen of Hearts. Personally, I would have believed it more if her actions, such as being harsh to her family, dismissing Mary Ann, giving up her bakery, etc. happened after her heart was removed. I feel like those actions would have fit better with a heartless woman rather than a heartbroken one. Going off of that, it’s interesting that she remains vengeful after her heart was removed. I definitely get why she was, but one would think she would be rid of all emotions without a heart (unless they were alluding to the fact that she’s now rid of compassion).
I love stories where fate is involved, but it really angers me when people ignore the blatant warnings. Cath was warned not to enter any doors, but she does so to save Mary Ann, knowing what it would lead to. This part made me so upset; knowing what was about to happen but not being able to change it was the worst. I was scared that it was Raven that was going to kill Jest, so I was happy to see that that wasn’t the case. Still, I was so sad to see him die. Side note, the sisters were jerks – putting the four into a hall of doors after forbidding them to enter a door. That’s just cruel. I do wonder how the story would have ended if they went to Chess instead though.
As for the big reveal about Lady Peter’s wife, I did see that coming. I think that was supposed to be obvious, due to it not being that large of a plot point. The Jabberwoky did wreak havoc and was the cause of Jest’s death, but overall that sub plot was swept aside. I’m actually okay with that. I like the idea of Cath slaying the Jabberwoky and of Peter Peter trying to justify that she didn’t murder a beast, rather she murdered his wife. I still have trouble understanding why Cath went to save Mary Ann. I know the two were friends (and being fed to a Jabberwoky sounds like the worst way to go), but the two had a clear falling out. Also, Cath was warned.
Lastly, it was really cool seeing why the queen hated white roses so much and how the timid king ended up with the wrathful queen. Watching the last of the parallels unfold really tied the last moments of this story with the classic tale Carol told.
I’m definitely hung up on the last couple of decisions in the book, but overall I really enjoyed reading it. I was curious to see how Cath was going to become the Queen of Hearts, although she did not take the path I thought she was going to. Like I said at the beginning, Alice fans will love this reimagining of the Queen of Hearts. Despite my issues with the “final transformation,” I do still recommend this one!
Read it, or “Off with your head!” I’m just kidding, but seriously, read this one.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 out of 5 Stars