Heartless

18584855by Marissa Meyer
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars

I’ve read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass many times, and I can tell Meyer has too. This is a superb, well-written origin story for a beloved/feared villain! Fairy tales have been popular for a couple of years now, but this is one of the most seamless integrations of old and new world-building I’ve encountered. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to take the most famous nonsensical world and create rules behind the madness–this subtlety is probably the best surprise.

Cath is a marquess’ daughter who wants nothing more than to open a bakery in Hearts with her best friend, her maid Mary Ann. She knows it would be the best in the land, and she wants everyone in the kingdom to sample her delicious sweets. But her parents know the King of Hearts wants to make Cath his queen, and they will not be satisfied until that happens. The night that Cath is supposed to accept the king’s proposal, she meets Jest–the new court joker who is mysterious, charming, clever, and handsome. Cath has never been in love before, but she can’t imagine giving up her feelings for the weak and foolish king, even if it comes with a crown. And on top of all this, the fearsome Jabberwock is terrorizing the kingdom unchallenged!

Cath is a perfect balance of admirable and awful. She is our protagonist, but she is far from perfect. Too deferential to her parents, too judgmental of others. Like so many of us, she feels caught in situations that never go as planned because she can’t challenge etiquette or her peers. She is just risk-adverse enough to aggravate herself and those around her. I loved following her journey that felt equally chosen and fated.

Cath is great, but the side characters of Hatta, Cheshire, and Jest make this impossibly magical! Hatta and Cheshire in particular capture the dark whimsy and unpredictable nature of life in Wonderland. Magic is inextricable from life in Hearts, yet there’s also the sense that it can continue evolving outside of the people’s control. This story gives you characters to love and a world that fascinates you at every turn!

Warning: will cause Emotions and hunger pains. Pick this up if you’re ready to be transported!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Heartless is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer – If you enjoyed this retelling, check out this quartet of sci-fi fairy tale adventures! Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing just trying to break free from her abusive stepmother’s control. A chance encounter with Prince Kai pulls her into the web of politics between Earth and Luna, and Cinder’s mysterious past might hold the key to Earth’s future. See my review here.
  • A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan – Rose awakens from her statis tube to learn that 62 years have passed, everyone she has ever known is dead, and she is the sole heir to her parents’ business empire. The current head of the company is not pleased that she was found, and will do anything to keep her from reclaiming her life.
  • Chalice by Robin McKinley – A retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a girl whose gifts lie with honey and the new ruler of the land, a former priest of fire whose touch can reduce anything to ash. See my review here.
  • Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake – Triplet sisters with different abilities are raised in separate realms as they prepare for their 16th birthday, and the duel to the death for the throne. See my review here.
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu – Adelina is a marked survivor of the blood fever with the ability to weave extraordinary illusions. Determined to avenge herself on those who made her life miserable, she joins other elites like her in the Dagger Society. See my review here.
  • Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes – If you want a trilogy based on this famed character, look no further! Dinah is the Princess of Hearts eagerly awaiting her crown, but violent events in her kingdom threaten to destroy her dreams.
  • Alice in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll – If you haven’t read the source material, I highly recommend it! It is utterly strange and entertaining, and despite its age the prose is easy to read. There are many more bizarre events and eccentric characters that are left out of films and re-tellings, and the wordplay is clever!
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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns | To Live a Thousand Lives

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