Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on 8th November 2016
Format: Paperback, ARC
Boffins, Dymocks, Booktopia, Publisher
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 favourite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King's marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. 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 kind of have a love/hate relationship with Marissa Meyer and her books. I love her as a person – her writing advice is solid, she’s a beautiful person, and she has a great knack for creating really interesting worlds. However…I just don’t ever seem to enjoy the plots of her books. In saying that, I’ve only read Cinder, and haven’t as yet continued with the series. So I was looking forward to reading Heartless, a fantasy standalone back story to the famous Queen of Hearts from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Like many, many people, I’ve been a huge Lewis Carroll fan since I was a young girl (thanks Mum!). I can remember pouring through this really old copy of Through The Looking Glass we had and absolutely being besotted with the rhymes, idiocies and illustrations. So whenever a unique retelling or reimagining crops up, I am there faster than the White Rabbit.
The best thing for me about Heartless was the world. Meyer has created a fantastic backdrop to the story, and it’s probably the reason I kept on reading. Heartless has the whole host of Alice characters we know and love coupled with unique twists that will make any Alice fan smile. I also loved how there were sly little references to other nursery rhymes. For example, one of the characters is Sir Peter, a reference to the nursery rhyme Peter, Peter. The way it was all put together was simply amazing, and I had so much fun reading all the little details, from the flamingos (‘Ah like shrimp’) to the jumble group of Hatta’s tea parties.
Sadly, that’s where things tend to go a bit south for me. Everything else I found…rather boring. Which is a shame, because I really wanted to love this novel. Cath seemed like a character that I could understand solely for her love of food. But even all the references to sweets and pies and chocolate seemed too much. There isn’t a lot of plot going on in Heartless until the last quarter of the book, as this is, essentially, an origin story for the villainous Queen of Hearts we all know from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The plot is simple: Cath wants to open a bakery, but her parents want her to marry the King of Hearts. Then Cath meets Jest, the new court joker, and everything evolves from there. I can see where Meyer was wanting to go with this – the whole idea of living your own destiny, following your own heart and not the wishes of others – but it just didn’t resonate with us. I felt as if Meyer had spent so much time creating such a wonderfully vivid world that the characters and the plot were swept aside. Even the romance seemed forced, and for a book that’s over 400 pages long, way too instalove for my liking. I would have preferred to get to see Jest and Cath’s feelings develop slowly, rather than all at once. In saying that, my favourite character was probably Hatta, aka the Mad Hatter, and I think Heartless is well worth the read for his story alone.
It’s sad when something doesn’t quite live up to its full potential, but if you don’t mind a (very) slow plot and can look past instalove for the great world building, Heartless definitely belongs on your TBR.
Check out the other blogs on the Australian Heartless blog tour below!