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.
I would first like to say I read “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer a while ago and was not impressed and vowed to not read any of her works again because of the issues I had with “Cinder”. I assumed everything she wrote would all be the same, which was clearly very stubborn of me. So it’s kind of a big deal when I say that I not only read “Heartless” but really, really loved it. I have been won over!
It also may have something to do with the fact that I love Alice in Wonderland retellings…..
For those of you who don’t know this isn’t just a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, oh no. It’s an origin story for the Queen of Hearts herself….which makes it all the more fun am I right?
One of my biggest complaints about “Heartless” is that it’s pacing is extremely slow and a bit tedious at times. I would say this is true for about three quarters of the book and the last quarter it definitely picks up and gets REALLY interesting! This was kind of a “meh” or “okay” for a lot of the book but damn that ending completely won me over!
I have seen a lot of negative reviews for this book and their problems were with the slow pacing and the plot itself. You see the plot is mainly about Catherine not wanting to marry the King of Hearts and that’s really all there is to it which does get very repetitive and boring, I agree. However, I overlooked that because I was having so much fun with the characters and references to Alice in Wonderland. I would say the slow pacing has a lot to do with the plot not really moving in any other direction for a long duration of the story.
There’s also an inclusion of the Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater nursery rhyme which I thought was pretty neat. Just saying.
I also loved the way Marissa Meyer weaved in her Wonderland references without info-dumping us. We are, after all, pretty familiar with the Alice in Wonderland and I thought that made it all the more fun to pick out her references while reading.
The ending was my favorite part of the story because of how dark, twisted, and awesome it is! I loved seeing what happened to Catherine that turned her in to the beheading crazy Queen of Hearts we all know and I was NOT disappointed! Actually I take that back I was disappointed because with that ending I thought this was a series but alas it’s a standalone and I’m very upset…..
I want more!
So while the pacing is slow and plot is more or less a little boring it’s still okay because this is more of a character driven book in the first place.
As I said this is a very character driven book so the characters are pretty important and Meyer does a great job of making them as interesting and complex as possible. I think you can have a boring plot and the book will still be great if you do a good job developing your characters and that’s proven in “Heartless”.
Catherine is a likable enough main character she’s sweet, kind, and the most fantastic baker in all of Hearts (which made for some stomach-rumbling reading). I ended up being very sympathetic to Catherine’s cause, she wants to open a bakery and her mother wants her to marry the king and become Queen of Hearts. You can see how those two wants would conflict and I just became very invested in Catherine’s plight.
Jest, the new court joker, is also a very interesting character and also the love interest. He wasn’t particularly the best character or even my favorite character but he was very charming and a lot of fun , if that makes sense. I also really loved his bird companion Raven, who speaks in poetry and quotes Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” which was hilarious!
Hatta (aka The Mad Hatter, speaking of which the name Hatta for this character drove me insane! It’s just stupid to me and I hated pronouncing it Hatta in my head!) was also a great character and stayed pretty true to the Alice in Wonderland character. Even if he was rude sometimes…..but you’ll understand when you read his origin story which I thought was very interesting and adds a lot to your perspective of the Mad Hatter.
I, of course, have to mention how much I loved Cheshire because I always love the Cheshire Cat in every Alice in Wonderland related work. He’s just as mischievous as always!
There’s also a slew of other characters that were absolutely wonderful as well and even if we saw very little of them I still feel like they had a complexity all their own.
As you all already know it takes a lot for me to enjoy YA romances since they’re usually so full of cliches. While I did catch a whiff of some insta-love at first this romance was not completely nauseating. It was a bit charming and a bit cute but overall it was just sort of okay and I didn’t mind it but I didn’t love it either.
However, the romance between Cath and Jest is a major plot point and yet it never feels like it totally takes over which is definitely a plus.
Overall I very much enjoyed this book even though it had a few issues I was able to easily overlook them and still end up loving “Heartless”.
What I Liked:
- The Alice in Wonderland references and that this world stayed pretty true to the original
- The characters were interesting and complex
- That ending!
What I Disliked:
- The pacing was very slow
- The overall plot was a bit boring
- The romance was just okay/meh
I definitely recommend reading “Heartless” if you’re willing to push through the slow pacing and get to that wonderful ending but if you aren’t a fan of slow books and lose patience quickly then maybe give this one a skip.
Also if you’re like me and didn’t love “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer and aren’t sure if you want to give this book a try I strongly urge you to take the plunge! I really disliked “Cinder” and ended up not only loving “Heartless” but am now willing to dive back into the Lunar Chronicles as well!