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Review: Heartless - Marissa Meyer


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Heartless by Marissa Meyer
My Rating : {★★★★★}

Young Adult Fantasy FairyTale Retelling
Expected publication: November 8th 2016 by Pan Australia

Source: Pan Macmillan Australia via NetGalley
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 favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she 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.
What a fantastic story.

I loved everything about this wonderful fairy tale retelling and I can't believe I have never read anything by Marissa Meyer before this. I understand her Lunar Chronicles are also retellings of a sort and I need them in my life - RIGHT NOW.

Heartless is the story of Cath - the very eligible daughter of a marquess living in Hearts. Her dream is to be the best baker in all of the Kingdom and she really is a superb baker and quite possibly the very best in the land. Unfortunately we all know how this story will turn out - there will be no happily ever after, there will be no simple bakery and a life of love, for Cath is destined to be Queen - the 'terror of Wonderland'. This is the story of how she got there and of exactly the events that lead her to become so Heartless.

"You’re the daughter of a marquess. Look around. Look at the things you have, the life you’re accustomed to. You don’t know what it’s like to work every day so you can feed yourself and keep a roof over your head. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor. To be a servant"

The world building felt effortless and is a blend of Victorian London and Carroll's Wonderland. There's a wonderful use of recognisable characters and a setting full of magic and lustre and also mystery and intrigue. It's not only Cath's story that is being told here, we meet The Mad Hatter before he was mad, we meet the Jabberwock before it becomes The Queen's most dangerous servant and we meet the Queen's executioner and learn what led him to serve the Queen.

There are so many action packed scenes and the pages of this book simply fly by. The usage of Wonderland's fantastical characters is done so well and with such nonchalance that it all felt so REAL. There's the Cheshire cat and his fabulous smile and disappearing act, there's the White Rabbit, The March Hair and the Caterpillar. There's tea parties with Hatta (the Mad Hatter), matchmaking, thrilling scenes with the Jabberwock, Victorian style repression of women, delicious baked treats and of course, there's the King of Hearts; a fairly harmless but bumbling, spineless man who wishes to marry Cath. It's unfortunate that she could never have been happy with him.

"Could she ever say yes to that? As she took a sip of tea, a more important question struck her. Could she ever say no?"

Whether you are a fan of the original or not, you can read and enjoy this story. It is a unique take on Wonderland long before Alice ever arrived. It's heartbreaking and frustrating and tragic on so many levels and even though the ending is already known you will find yourself rooting for Cath and just hoping that Meyer re-writes history and everything can change. I will never look upon the Queen of Hearts in the same way again.

"Such a heart can’t be mended. I hope I won’t be tasked with keeping such a useless artifact for much longer.”