(3.5 / 5)
Published by Macmillan :: Feiwel & Friends :: 464 Pages
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.
This was a ‘prequel’ to Alice in Wonderland, written by Marissa Meyer.
I put this book down when I got to page 147 the first time I read through it. I thought that it was taking too long to jump into the action, there was nothing happening. A girl lived in Hearts and wanted to own a bakery but the King really wants to marry her. That was all that was going on.
When I picked it up for the second time, I started around the same spot in order to skip the boring parts, determined to make it through this time. I am glad that I stuck with it because the last 2/3 of the book was infinitely better than the beginning. Just one or two chapters after the place I quit was the part where it picked up.
Here was my problem with the beginning of the book
She was taking forever getting to the point with the bakery stuff. She went to see it and then went to see the warthog and there was a little flirting with the king. It was all taking way too long to hash out. I could see that she was trying to make “magic and romance” happen between Cath and Jest, but I just didn’t feel it. That lack of friction and romance between the two characters lasted throughout the entire book for me, too. I wanted to root for them, I wanted to feel how in love they were, but I just couldn’t do it.
The rest of the characters that she uses in her story were marvelous, from her representation of the Mad Hatter to the horrible Jabberwock. The Cheshire Cat was exactly what I would have expected him to be.
“Cheshire’s yellow eyes slitted as he held her gaze for one beat, two. Then he began to unravel from the tip of his tail, a slow unwinding of his stripes.
‘These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,’ he said, vanishing up to his neck. ‘They happen only in nightmares.’
His head spiraled and he was gone.”
Now, when Jest takes her out of her room in the night to the secret tea party at Hatta’s place was where the story got interesting to me. There was much less talking and a lot more action. More whimsical characters and settings were introduced, which is the reason we were all reading the book in the first place. The mock turtle was one part that I had the desire to look up, his story was very sad and I enjoyed the pictures of him from the original story.
What I LOVED
After this scene is was not hard to pay attention to the story that was unfolding in front of my eyes. That is why I am very torn about this book, because even though I didn’t like the beginning at all I enjoyed the end very very much. For the remainder of the book she carefully weaves a perfect story around the characters that we know and love, as well as a couple of other familiar fairy tales as well. Despite the lack of chemistry between the two main characters I enjoyed the world that Meyer built and the characters and imagery of the story.
Like other stories that are like this, like Wicked or Hook’s Tale, we see this good natured, loving girl and we are left to ponder during the story the question: What happened to this girl to make her so cold and HEARTLESS. The ending was so cruel and heartbreaking.
“Now mine eyes see the heart that once we did search for, and I fear this heart shall be mended, nevermore.”
I am so conflicted on how to rate this book, because if I only rated the first half it would be two stars and if it was only the second half it would be 4.5 stars (-.5 of a star because I just didn’t feel it between Jest and Cath. I just didn’t and it sucks because I wanted to.) If you think this book is boring in the beginning stick with it, the ending was worth the long journey. 3.5/5 stars.
You can check out Heartless and other Marissa Meyer books on her Website
You can read my review and others on Goodreads
OK so now that the review part is over there are some spoilers that follow that I would like to get off my chest for a sec.
Whatever happened to Jack the Knave? I really thought that even though he was supremely rude to Cath each time they encountered each other, that he was going to save her or do something heroic or we would at least hear more about him in the end. He ran off when she got her ankle broke and that was that. I don’t recall anything else about him.
The part at the end with the looking glass was SO COOL: The idea that they went through the maze and it was the same but different on the other side. So the other side is Chess, right? So she has to make strategic, logical decisions in order to cross over. And the treacle well? If one side heals than the other side does the opposite, right? Just some late night thoughts about a very good book, and I haven’t read the original (reading now) so I’m just grasping. I would love to hear your thoughts too!
I liked the twist with the Jabberwocky. I was wondering what was up with those freaks but I wasn’t expecting that.