I was really excited for this book because when I first read the blurb on Goodreads, I was like “Queen of Hearts? Wonderland? I need this.” I love when an author takes a classic story and either makes it her own or choose to take a deeper dive into the characters we have come to love or hate. Heartless is Marissa Meyer’s vision of how the Queen of Hearts became the unhinged monarch we know her as in Alice in Wonderland.
Lady Catherine Pinkerton has one simple dream – to be the best baker in the kingdom of Hearts. Her mother and her society, however, have another dream for her, and in their dream, the future Queen of Hearts simply cannot be a lowly baker.
The plot moves slowly, but this is a largely character-driven book where you really get to understand the circumstances and manipulations that shape the kind of queen that Catherine becomes. Looking back now, I don’t think I found the loveline really believable (seemed a little too love-at-first-sight), but regardless Jest is so swoonworthy it ultimately didn’t really matter because I flew through the book.
If you’re familiar with Alice in Wonderland or any of its adaptations, you’ll be thrilled by Meyer’s nods to the source material. Our Wonderland favorites (the Mad Hatter!, the Cheshire Cat!) have fairly major roles in the story, and the world is as quirky, weird, dark, and fabulous as ever.
I’m currently working my way through Meyer’s older Lunar Chronicles series (also fairytale inspired), and I can definitely see how she has refined her writing since then. I found it difficult to get through Cinder, the first book in the series, largely due to the fact that it just couldn’t hold my interest, but Heartless is such an improvement that I think I finished this in two days. Overall, it’s a fun read that builds upon an already beloved and classic world and blends the familiar and the new in a way that makes the story accessible to anyone who enjoys these kinds of classic retellings.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5