by Marissa Meyer
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.
I was ecstatic when I picked up a signed copy of Heartless by Marissa Meyer at BEA 2016. I love her Lunar Chronicles and have long been a fan of Alice in Wonderland penned by Lewis Caroll. Everyone loves to hate the antagonist the Queen of Hearts, who declared, “off with his head” at the slightest provocation.
Heartless is the story of young Catherine before she became the Queen of Hearts. Myer’s telling of her history was wonderfully detailed and pulled at my heartstrings. Brilliantly told, this is not a love story, nor does it offer a happy ending but it is the story of how a little girl became a feared Queen.
When we meet Catherine, she is baking lemon tarts. Catherine dreams of opening a bakery in Hearts with her maid. She has never known love and tries to both please her parents and realize her dreams and ambitions. At the black and white ball, she meets the Jester, and her heart begins to flutter, but the King is eying her to be his Queen. The tale that unfolds was indeed a trip down the rabbit hole.
I delighted in seeing characters from Alice in Wonderland. There was the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and Peter Pumpkin. I adored, the Jester’s companion a Raven who talked in rhyme. Meyer’s said he was inspired by Edger Allen Poe and I delighted in the somewhat familiar verse. The Jester was mysterious, charismatic and handsome. I could see how Catherine was attracted to him. The King was portrayed as a bit of a bumbling buffoon and had me rolling my eyes at his attempts to court Catherine.
As we learn about Cathrine, and the men in her life we engage in lawn crochet, attend teas and deal with her ambitious momma. All the while a mythological creature is attacking the people of Hearts and Catherine is determined to stop it. It was all splendidly done, and I found myself slipping into the world and connecting with these characters.
Magic, prophecies, and characters of the Kingdom all added interest and slowly pushed us towards the catalyst that would forever change Catherine.
Heartless was riveting and pulled me down the rabbit hole. For fans of Alice in Wonderland and Marissa Meyer, Heartless is a must read.
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