I received a copy from Netgalley.
I adored the Lunar Chronicles so naturally have been very excited for another Marissa Meyer novel. I had already pre ordered before I was lucky enough to get a Netgalley copy of Heartless. Though more than a week after finishing I’m still not sure what to make of it. I generally like fairy tale retellings. Though admittedly, my knowledge of Alice in Wonderland is limited to the first Disney movie. I never read the original.
The biggest issue I had with this one, is it’s the origin story of the Queen of Hearts, so no matter what, you know something is going to go hideously hideously wrong. Catherine Pinkerton is actually a fairly nice girl when the novel starts, with dreams of opening her own bakery with her best friend, her maid Mary Anne. Catherine is a fabulous baker full of delightful ideas, and Mary Anne is the more practical minded one of the two, good with money and logical thinking. Though Catherine knows her parents would never approve. Her mother is overbearing and bossy though puts it all in a “mother knows best” context and wants to see Catherine settled down with a rich husband.
Catherine isn’t interested in a husband, and becomes distressed by the fact that the King of Hearts clearly has a huge crush on her. He’s a big fan of her baking, her parents are thrilled, Cath, not so much. The King of Hearts is much older, nice, but as dumb as a bucket of rocks. Cath knows that if she marries, she’ll never get her bakery. She’s quite an interesting character, clearly with brains and a bit of a sassy attitude at times. And also stubborn, she can be very stubborn.
Wonderland has a fantastic cast of colourful characters, though the talking animals are a little weird to get used to, mixed with human characters. The setting is delightfully done, it’s very whimsical, very creative, though because of the fanciful nature, I did find it rather hard to picture.
As Catherine schemes to find ways to open her bakery and convince her parents that’s what she wants, as well as ducking the attention of the King, dealing with dances and parties and high society life, she finds herself drawn to the charms of Jest, the Court Joker. They hit it off immediately.
Which of course sends warning bells, at least to me, because as I said early, it’s obvious that something is going to go wrong. And on top of Cath falling more and more for Jest, who introduces her to the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, and other Wonderland characters, there’s a beast attacking the land of Hearts, the Jabberwock, which seems to attack at large gatherings, and the King of Hearts doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.
It did feel a little long winded and kind of repetitive. A circle of Cath trying to deal with her feelings for Jest as well as dealing with her mother pushing her towards the king, and trying to find ways to open this bakery when the parents just are not budging. With a Jabberwock thrown in for a few good battle scenes. Though it was nearly 75% in before it got to a have to know what happens next. It did get quite dark and somewhat twisted just before the end. Beautifully written, but something was missing for me.
I didn’t love it, I liked it. A little predictable in parts, but still left an - ah, so that’s how it happened.
Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for approving my request to view the title.