Author: Marissa Meyer
Published by: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication date: 17th November 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
“Now mine eyes see the heart that once we did search for, and I fear this heart shall be mended, nevermore.”
Have you ever wondered what the origin story was of the Queen of Hearts? I hadn’t prior to this but I’m so glad Meyer did because I think this retelling hits the nail on the head. Before she was the Queen of Hearts, Catherine was just a young girl with dreams of opening the most wondrous bakery in Hearts with an enchanting Joker and her best friend. She was as sweet as her baking and watching her turn into an absolute monster was glorious.
I wrote this book off as an okay attempt at a retelling/origin story at the halfway mark, not feeling particularly attached to any characters. But everything is not what it seems, as is to be expected in Wonderland, and everything grew dark and the Queen of Hearts truly became the Queen of Hearts. “I am not empty. I am full to the brim with murder and revenge. I am overflowing and I do not think you wish for me to overflow onto you.” At the end of it all I was angry, disturbed and frankly, a hot mess. Whether it was Meyer’s intention to make me forget that this book didn’t have a happy ending, I do not know, but I like to think that it was.
The multitude of ties and knots to the original Wonderland characters is magnificently done. There was never a single moment in which I felt like I wasn’t in Wonderland. The characters, the conversations, the environment. Everything was a riddle in itself and it was just so fantastic. “Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don’t you know?”
The correlations between the smallest of things (which I won’t point out as they were some of the most creative things in this book and it’s much better to discover on your own) were brilliant and I’d love to know how Meyer came up with them. The multiple answers to why a raven is liking a writing desk and how the Mad Hatter became mad are explored thoroughly throughout the book, to the point where I can’t even discuss it without getting all flustered and end up with poorly strung together thoughts.
Along with being a very emotional read, Heartless also had its humorous moments. I particularly liked the Cheshire Cat and his preference for cream in his tea, hold the tea. The romance between Catherine and Jest the Joker came quick but it also felt real and tangible. “Something about him seemed crafted for her, and that thought made her face flame, like she was standing too close to a fire.” Catherine’s overbearing parents were also very well written and the moment they wanted her to just be happy was just a moment too late.
Heartless was an epic read, and I don’t say that lightly. The romance between Cath and her Joker felt so real and amazing. The Mad Hatter still holds fantastical tea parties and the flamingos and hedgehogs are still used for croquet. This is the story of how an enchanting young girl becomes the monstrous Queen of Hearts and her journey is not one to skip out on. I highly suggest falling down a rabbit hole for Heartless.
And now there’s only one last thing to say:
“Off with his head.”