Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Buy on Amazon
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 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.
Unlike the Alice we usually associate with Wonderland, seventeen-year-old Catherine Pinkerton—or, as she prefers to be called, Cath—considers the magical land home. Her parents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove, want her to take advantage of the unmarried King's obvious preference for her and accept a marriage proposal from him when the time comes, but Cath's desires couldn't be more different. She longs to open a bakery with her maid and best friend Mary Ann. But when she encounters the mysterious Jest, the new court joker who seems to have appeared from nowhere, she's tempted by the thought of romance for the very first time . . .
I discovered Marissa Meyer's series The Lunar Chronicles last year around this time and quickly became a huge fan. That series alone showcases her abilities to take familiar characters and transform them to fit original stories, and those abilities are not idle in Heartless. The writing is well-done, and she pays tribute to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland without stifling her own creativity. The characters are fresh and unique while at the same time drawing our mind to the original story. I almost prefer her version of Wonderland to Carroll's, mostly because the original story is a bit too nonsensical for my personal preference—Meyer was able to order enough of the chaos to create a story with solid structure, while leaving plenty of fantasy for the reader to enjoy. She mentions in the acknowledgements that she was inspired by Gregory Maguire's works, many of which I've read, and I must say I think she's taken his idea and improved upon it greatly. I enjoyed Wicked, and I have to say Heartless is leaps and bounds better since she doesn't spend time trying to convince us that the Queen of Hearts is not a villain; instead, she shows us what drove her to villainy. She does a great job of unraveling Cath's character, who starts out at her best and ends at her worse, the opposite most character arcs. It was all very believable and while I couldn't condone Cath's behavior, I could sympathize with her. I hope Meyer chooses to pen more tales in her own twisted, captivating version of Wonderland.
Here, I will share with you my 3.5, 4- and 5-star reads. Let's fangirl together!