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.
My Rating: 4 Stars
As is the case with most women my age, I’ve suffered my fair share of heartbreak. The kind that has you curling up in bed and sobbing, while eating calorie filled bites of any kind of chocolate you can get your hands on. No offense to my ex-boyfriends, but not a single one of them has broken my heart as much as Heartless did. I read the last 4 chapters of this book through tears – not the cute little tears that Hollywood starlets cry in romantic comedies, I’m talking big fat crocodile tears here.
The premise of this book makes it abundantly clear that Catherine will not get her happy ending – anyone who knows anything about Alice in Wonderland is aware that the Queen of Hearts is not a happy character. Despite this, I found myself hoping beyond hope that Meyer was going to find a way for Cath to get everything she wanted. I may not have liked her at the beginning of the book, (I actually hated how judgmental she seemed to be of others) but by page 200 I was rooting for her wholeheartedly. Heartbreak aside, the telling of the Queen of Hearts’s story was beyond clever. I loved that Cath was a baker who’s only dream was to open her own shop. Although she may have been naive, her passion for baking was what endeared me to her in spite of our rocky introduction. I have to say though, the best thing about Catherine was her relationship with Jest. It was only while interacting with him that she became a truly lovable character. Their star-crossed love story, while tragic, was the best part of the book for me.
In true Marissa Meyer fashion, no detail was missed in this enchanting retelling. Heartless is jam packed full of characters that fans of Alice in Wonderland will recognize – the mad hatter, the cheshire cat, and the white rabbit to name a few. Meyer didn’t stop at telling the story of the Queen’s decent into evil, she gave us the hatter’s backstory as well. Showcasing a talent that few authors can master, Meyer manages to wind the fates of all of the characters into an intricate plot. Little details that may have seemed irrelevant over the course of the book became relevant in a big way by the end.
All of the above being said, I did struggle to finish Heartless. I’ve picked it up and put it down multiple times over the course of the last two weeks. The books starts and ends well, but the middle dragged a bit. I began to lose interest about 100 pages in, and only found it again after the 250 page mark. I was also almost constantly annoyed by the King – he seemed like such a child. How did such a man become a king in the first place? I dreaded Cath’s interactions with him almost as much as she seemed to.
My Takeaway: Despite a slow moving middle, Heartless is absolutely a book worth reading. It tugged on my heartstrings more than any book I have read in a long time. While I still consider The Lunar Chronicles to be Marissa Meyer’s best work, she has proven yet again that she is Queen of the retelling genre.