Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Heartless - Marissa Meyer

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 2016 (Hardcover)
Length: 450 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy, Classic
Started: February 23, 2017
Finished: March 1, 2017

From the inside cover:

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 nothing more than to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King's marriage proposal, she meets the mysterious Jest. 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 a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic and madness, fate has other plans.

I couldn't possibly turn down an origin story for the Queen of Hearts, and this author is one of my favourites, so I knew she wouldn't disappoint.

Lady Catherine Pinkerton of Rock Turtle Cove is part of the gentry in the kingdom of Hearts in Wonderland. Although her parents disapprove of her hobby, she is a talented baker; her efforts at which have even captured the attention of the King of Hearts. Though the King is a kind man, he is simple and childish, inspiring the opposite of passion in Catherine. Cath's parents of course want their daughter to be a queen, but she and her maid, Mary Ann, have a dream of opening their own bakery. But queens don't run bakeries, and gentry girls with no money of their own can't open a business. Cath mourns her lack of choices about her future, but that changes when she meets Jest, the court joker for the King. Jest is charming and mysterious, and Catherine is completely smitten with him. As the King makes his intentions towards Cath quite clear, she must make a choice as to which path she will take; but the sudden appearance of the Jabberwock, as well as the reason behind Jest's presence in Hearts, will test both her resolve and courage.

Readers of Alice in Wonderland all know the end result regarding the Queen of Hearts, and considering that spoils things a bit in terms of knowing how things end, the author did a good job of explaining how she became that way. Catherine's plight is believable considering the time period that Hearts embodies, and though she isn't oppressed like some heroines, you still sympathize with her for her lack of choices. The romance between Cath and Jest is quite charming and isn't necessarily insta-love, but it does have that star-crossed lovers vibe to it for obvious reasons. The Wonderland references are nicely incorporated here as you would expect: the Chesire cat occasionally appears at Cath's house, and the Mad Hatter and March Hare characters appear in Hatta and Haigha. The more original elements ring true as well: Peter the pumpkin seller and his wife are modelled after the "Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater" rhyme, and Jest's companion Raven resembles the bird from Poe's iconic poem. The twist at the end involving Hatta was one I suspected but didn't actually think would come to pass, so kudos to the author for including that aspect.

If you're a fan of the author's well known work, The Lunar Chronicles, or enjoy origin stories of classic villains such as Wicked, then you'll definitely want to read this.

Thoughts on the cover:
Appropriate and expected given the story, but not overly impressive unfortunately.

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