Official Synopsis from Amazon: 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 unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath 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.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Setting: The fictional land of Hearts
My copy came from: I purchased the hardback from Amazon.
Review: Heartless is a lot of fun, and has an intriguing setting, but unlikable characters made it hard to connect to the story.
I’m a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s. I loved her Lunar Chronicles series that was a science fiction / fantasy retelling of several fairy tales, and when I heard that she was writing a book that was the story of how the Queen of Hearts became the evil bad lady that she is, I was excited to read the book! Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect to any of the characters, so even though I really loved the setting and the atmosphere, this one was an OK read for me. OK meaning that I read it quickly, and was immersed in the story, but couldn’t truly care about the outcome of any of the characters.
This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she’d created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic.
Heartless starts out with our main character Catherine Pinkerton, “Cath”, having big dreams of opening a bakery with her best friend, Mary Ann. Unfortunately, Cath has caught the eye of the sweet and simple King of Hearts, and doesn’t want the attention that she receives. At a party, she meets the mysterious Jest, the King’s court joker, a man new to Hearts, and falls in love.
I liked the relationship between Jest and Cath; while somewhat insta-lovey, that didn’t bother me here. Jest is probably the most likeable character in the book, besides Mary Ann. Jest has a mission of his own, and that brings a complexity to their story that I liked.
Cath is somewhat annoying. I started out liking her, but then she just never made any decision, about anything, and just kept whining to herself about her predicament. The King loves her! But she wants to open a bakery! But yet she does nothing about either of these things. She goes along with the King, and then gets irritated when he falls more in love with her. She strings along Mary Ann with the bakery idea, and treats Mary Ann terribly as she starts to lean towards becoming the Queen of Hearts.
Besides Cath, and the King of Hearts, several other characters from Alice in Wonderland appear here. There is Hatta, who owns Hatta’s Marvelous Millinery, and he’s got his own agenda as well. I didn’t really like him, but he was one of those characters whom you never quite know what he’s going to do, or how he’ll react, so he was therefore interesting. The White Rabbit makes brief appearances here and there, and the Cheshire Cat is also floating around as well. Cheshire is such a slinky character. Is he just trying to stir up trouble? Does he have an agenda? Does he even care about anything or anyone?
My favorite of the many unique characters here were The Three Sisters. They were eerie and atmospheric, and they guard the border of Hearts and Chess (another realm), and they were by far my favorite parts of the book.
“The easiest way to steal something,” Jest murmured, “is for it to be given willingly.”
All in all, Heartless is a fun book that stirs the imagination and transports the reader to a wonderful land (hee hee!). If I were rating solely on the atmosphere, it would get 5 giant stars from me! I loved the setting, and didn’t want to leave. But, unfortunately, none of the characters really inspired my emotions, so I was left with a bit of a flat feeling at the end of the book. I just didn’t really care about Cath and her self-made problems.
Oh, and a word of warning to those who read this book! Since Cath wants to open a bakery, there are so many delicious goodies mentioned in the book, that you will want to stop reading and go bake a delicious lemon tart, or some macarons, or go to the store and buy out the entire bakery section. This book begs to be read with a cup of tea and delicious cookie (or cake, or pie, or…).
Bottom Line: Fun and atmospheric, but lacks likeable characters.
Here’s a link to a Pinterest board that I made based on Heartless
Have you read Heartless? What did you think? Have you ever wanted to travel to Wonderland?