Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s/Fiewel & Friends
Published: November 2016 (USA)/ February 2017 (U.K.)
Source: Sent for review (but also bought!)
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.
How to break your readers heart: A lesson, by Marissa Meyer.
You may or may not know this, but I absolutely loved The Lunar Chronicles, Meyer’s YA sci-fi/fantasy mash up series. When I heard that Marissa was writing a prequel to Alice in Wonderland based on the Queen of Hearts, I was immediately on board for that. I very luckily managed to score a copy of Heartless early from the fabulous folk at Macmillan Children’s, and I am so, so grateful as it was highly anticipated read for me last year (even though my review is super late, although that’s because I was saving it for this blog!).
What did I love about Heartless that made me give it 5 stars, I hear you ask! Well, I basically loved everything about Heartless. The characters were charming. Cath and Jest totally have my heart and this book really gave such a good explanation for why the Queen of Hearts is like she is when we meet her in Alice in Wonderland. The characters were all just so great and were written so perfectly to fit into Wonderland. We were treated to a bit of an adventure, relationships, seeing more of the world of Wonderland and it was just fantastic. Essentially, Heartless was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. It was perfect!
Obviously we have already met the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, so we already know about our main lady and how cruel she can be – ‘Off with your head!‘. So our story follows main character, Cath, who is an avid baker who we join in making some Lemon tarts. I will tell you right now, that this book made me SO hungry for cake whenever the topic came up. I could’ve done with all of the food mentioned to be quite honest. Anyway, Cath is a very likeable main character and I could sympathise with her the whole way through. As mentioned in the blurb, Cath is facing a marriage proposal from the King of Hearts, however he is totally ditzy and childlike and Cath obviously does not want to marry him. Cath seems very much like a normal girl who just wants to find love herself and open up a bakery, where she can sell her yummy-sounding confectionaries.
So, at at a ball, where it seems like the King of Heart’s looming proposal is about to happen, out pops Jest, the court Jester. Jest immediately makes an impression on Cath and their friendship begins. Jest is a total sweetheart and I love him. Those are our main characters, but throughout the book, we are introduced to a whole load of other characters, including Mary, the Cheshire cat, the March Hare, Cath’s parents, the King of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and the tea party friends, as well as the Caterpillar.
I won’t lie, I kept imagining everybody that I already knew of as their characters in the Alice in Wonderland movie. So that helped me to imagine things a little bit better, but honestly, this story was just so rich with detail, settings, characters and plot. I loved seeing the relationship develop between Cath and Jest, but also seeing how her relationships changed with her friend and her parents throughout the book. The book made me sad for Cath, as her dream of opening a bakery kept being knocked down and all I wanted was for her to be able to own a bakery. It kind of made me think that as a girl, she had to do what was expected of her, and if she didn’t, her whole reputation/life would be ruined and she would be looked down on. Like, please, just give the gal what she wants.
Ok, so other than this book being sad because Cath’s bakery dream keeps being shattered, just like the jabberwocky was slated, the ending slayed me and my heart, . This ending was sooooo sad and by the last page, the Queen of Hearts origins fully made sense. I don’t want to ruin the ending for anybody that hasn’t read it yet, but honestly, this was such a sad ending and I was so hoping that the story would/could be different. This book had everything that I look for in a 5-star read.
Overall, I loved this book. A definite 5 star read for me and the excitement I had for this book was not overestimated either. I could talk about this book all day, and how much I loved it. Just a perfect prequel to a wonderful and beloved story.
Note – the candle in the picture below is Catherine’s Lemon Tart by Book & Nook, which you can buy from here. I bought it upon reading Heartless as I neededed a themed candle for it. It’s such a lovely lemony scnt, I could smell it all day. Plus, it has glitter on it!