Hello people! I promised you reviews and I’m not going to disappoint today. Coincidentally the first review of this year is also the first book I’ve read in 2017. Heartless by Marissa Meyer is an Alice in Wonderland inspired novel focusing on the queen of hearts. I’ve always been quite fond of fairy-tale retellings and Alice in Wonderland has been quite a constant thing in my life as far as I can remember.
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.
Before you read the book- maybe even before you continue reading this review- get yourself something sweet. Chocolate. Muffins. Cake. Whatever works best for you. Because I can tell you that you’ll be aching for sugary treats as soon as you start reading. Catherine, the protagonist, is a passionate baker and all the descriptions of lemon tarts, pumpkin pie, and scones make your mouth water so much I contemplated pausing and making myself some scones as well. Luckily, I could convince my mom to get me some Baklava, so I could continue reading while I was waiting. Yes, I just wanted to tell you all how great my mom is. Five stars. End of review. (Okay, I just noticed that I won’t talk about any more desserts, but please indulge yourself on my account ! 🙂 )
But for real, I devoured this book. “Fine literature does work up an appetite”. I think we can all agree with this quote. And this isn’t the only quote I have for you guys today. I basically lived for all of Meyer’s references to the original work. It wouldn’t have been Wonderland without its quirks and Jabberwockies. The Hatter’s, or should I say Hatta as he is called here, portrayal was on point and now I have at least three different answers to why a raven is like a writing desk. While we get our beloved and often quoted ones, I don’t want to withhold this gem for you:
“I heard the most delightful talk at the party today […] about a little girl who discovered an upward-falling rabbit hole just off the Crossroads, and when she started to climb her body fell up and up and— “
There’s literally nothing you can do wrong with subtle references and I did enjoy that brief glimpse into their experience with dear Alice.
Another thing I liked about Meyer’s writing style that you could pinpoint the beginning of Cath’s downward spiral into despair and madness, and into everything we later know to be characteristically of the Queen of Hearts. That point starts the first time the iconic line “Off with the head” falls. Throughout the book, I was waiting for this moment that would explain to us why that nice-ish girl would change so drastically. All I can say is that the author lived up to my expectations and created quite the heartless character. Hah, I stop with the puns now, promise!
In my opinion, the relationship between Cath and Jest progressed way too fast. I liked both characters just fine on their own, but to really ship them I would have needed either more pages or another book. For me, it felt like just another -more or less valid- excuse to throw in as a reason to why she couldn’t marry the king. Especially since they knew each other for a really short time. Thankfully, she did not forget her dream of opening a bakery for a boy, so there’s that.
I personally would have loved to have more insight on the White Kingdom, but I have to admit that that would have probably broken the mould for a stand-alone novel. Maybe, one day, we get all that content in a new book. That’d be quite nice.