This Review contains spoilers.
“But hoping,” He said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”
Published: 2017, by Macmillan Children’s Books.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings, Romance.
Contains: Violence, Death, Anger, Blood/Gore.
‘Heartless’ by Marissa Meyer explores the infamous character, the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, before she became the icon villain. Catherine Pinkerton is the daughter of the marquess, forced to betroth the King of Hearts, when in reality all she wants is to open her own bakery. However, after meeting the King’s Joker, Jest, she immediately falls for him, beginning to fantasise a life together and is set on rejecting the King’s proposal, regardless of how it’d shame her family.
There seemed to be a lot of mixed reviews online about this book, and although, some elements I do agree with, I mostly loved this story.
The concept itself was perfect; I loved the idea of the backstory behind the infamous character, and although I’m not that much of a fan of Alice In Wonderland, it didn’t hold back my enjoyment of the story at all. Cath’s passion for baking whilst being trapped in a world of royalty was beautiful to read, Meyer’s language leading me to agree with the protagonist on multiple occasions. I hardly care for desserts, but this book made me understand her passion for the art.
The characters were adorable, especially Jest, and the idea of the Queen of Hearts being driven to insanity from heartbreak was such a great twist on the tale. Jest’s character was one I instantly loved, finding his flirtatious responses and love for Cath adorable to read. Although, there was times where Catherine was somewhat irritating, I didn’t care about her personality when she was interacting with the love interest. It moved the story on well.
However, the overall size of the novel was a little off putting at times, and the pace of the story didn’t urge me to continue on occasion. It was slow in places, stuck in Cath’s life and adding numerous chapters where she was having a pointless conversation with Mary-Ann or her mother which didn’t move the plot at all. It wasn’t until Jest appeared, or the Jabberwock suddenly attacked, that the story continued. The last fifty pages made up for it somewhat, being full of action, yet I felt as if it was a rushed climax due to the other 400 pages of playing croquet and ballroom dancing.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story, and I’m glad I managed to find the motivation to finish it. I loved the characters and concept, and the heartbreaking ending was a perfect backstory for the Queen.