Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, 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 unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath 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.
The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favourite series of all time and I was extremely excited to read another retelling by Marissa Meyer. Sadly, Heartless fell way short of my expectations and I hate to say this… but I’m glad that it’s a standalone and that we can move on to bigger and better things.
Heartless is a villain origin story. It’s an Alice in Wonderland reimagining and we follow the Queen of Hearts from my childhood (or young adulthood) into her descent into evilness. Prior to being the Queen of Hearts, Cath was a girl who was not interested in being a society girl and marrying into a wealthy family. All she wanted to do was to open a bakery with her maid and best friend. However, without the approval from her parents and the resources to do so, she’s left with no choice but to enter into a courtship with the King of Hearts. But when she meets the court jester, Jest, they fall in love and begin a secret relationship…
My biggest problem with Heartless was the romance. I didn’t think that Cath and Jest had any chemistry together. I didn’t feel any passion or love between the two of them, which was a really big surprise to me because of how much I love all of the ships in The Lunar Chronicles. It didn’t feel like Marissa Meyer had taken the time to develop the relationship between Cath and Jest, and it just felt extremely forced. In terms of the characters themselves, I didn’t feel like Cath or Jest were particularly interesting characters. Besides Cath being a talented baker, there was nothing about her that stood our and her characterisation just fell flat. I felt similarly about Jest. I was expecting him to be quirky and interesting because he was the court jester but he came across to me as another typical male love interest. There just wasn’t much to the characters in this novel.
I didn’t think that the world building was strong. The world just felt like every other Alice in Wonderland-inspired novel that I’ve ever read. It wasn’t particularly original and there wasn’t a lot of time dedicated to developing it. I was honestly a bit underwhelmed by it. However, I did enjoy the plot of the book and how it fit into the world. I was a bit disappointed with the first half of the book because there was absolutely nothing happening and I found it extremely hard to get into the novel. But I did start to enjoy it more towards the middle of the story when there was a little bit more action. I loved the story of the Jabberwock and the role that it played in the book. That was perhaps my favourite aspect of the novel. The last section of the novel was interesting but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. Knowing that Heartless was a villain origin story ruined the ending for me a little. I knew that Cath would start becoming evil and when she did, I found it to be a bit underwhelming. I thought that it happened too abruptly because one moment she was not evil, and the next she was. I also found the catalyst of the whole thing to be kind of predictable.
Overall, Heartless was not the book that I wanted it to be. It wasn’t exciting enough for me and I thought the characters, the romance and part of the plot were boring and disappointing. However, Marissa Meyer’s writing never disappoints so I still managed to enjoy it.