Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Retellings | Romance
Publisher: Fiewel and Friends
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
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 (goodreads).
Heartless is imaginative and heartbreaking - everything you'd expect from Marissa Meyer!
Plot: Regardless of your exposure to the Alice in Wonderland series, Heartless is to follow while being wildly creative. Long before Alice arrived in Wonderland, Lady Catherine Pinkerton was trying to find her place in the stifling world of royals. When the King takes an interest in her, Cath's world is turned upside down and she is led down a dangerous path that seems to only lead to destruction. I thoroughly enjoyed Heartless, the first half was mostly exposition and exploration of the characters, and the last third of the book hits hard. I did feel that the book took an odd turn with the pacing. With seems like fun and games for the first 300 pages, then quickly turns dark and moves fairly quickly to reach the ending. I'm torn somewhere between a 4 and a 4.5 mostly because of the pacing.
Characters: Catherine was such a tragic character and her story kept me up at night. She starts off as such a sweet and unassuming girl that it's impossible that she becomes the raging Queen of Hearts that we all know. I especially loved the little easter eggs that Meyer through in to help understand her transformation.
Catherine is joined with a lot of familiar faces from Wonderland including the King and Hatta. The King was a riot because it was just as I had remembered him from the Disney film (no judgment, I haven't read the books). Hatta was also interesting because we were able to see his descent into madness, and learn a bit more about him.
It was the original characters that really stole the show, though. Jest is everything you want in a Book Boyfriend and their interactions were sweet and pure. The other characters felt so natural in the Wonderland world that I want more stories depicting their tales. While it's no spoiler that Catherine will go through quite the character development, I did think that it was very sudden. I think this is due in part to the rather rushed last 100 pages of the book.
Worldbuilding: Meyer is the master storyteller and I think that her books are so beloved because she knows how to create a beautiful fantasy world. While Wonderland is not her own creation, her writing was exactly the style that I would expect from this land of mad hatters and talking animals. It was effortless how easy it was to slip into this world and I hope that Meyer returns to it in some fashion.
Short N Sweet: Heartless will most likely break your heart, but it does so in the best way. The only thing keeping this from being a perfect book is the pacing.