So August’s book club pick for the month was Heartless by Marissa Meyer. It is a prequel retelling to Alice in Wonderland that explores how the Queen of Hearts came to be. We start with Cath, the daughter of the Marquees of Turtle Rock, who desires to open the best bakery in all of Hearts. Things really spiral from there. Initially I gave this book three stars but it is a book that just attaches itself to your mind. Since I couldn’t stop thinking about it I eventually bumped it up to 4 stars.
The romance is sweet and easy. Marissa Meyer does a great job of writing dissonant thinking patterns in a very believable way. While you may hate what Cath does and it’s wrong and there are other options so it’s frustrating. I always understood how Cath got herself to that point. It is the Wonderland that we all remember from the books, movies, etc. However, because this is Cath’s native land she doesn’t find any of it wonderous it’s all normal to her and that translates well in the writing. The most magical part of the story is the baking the way Cath views her beautiful creations. Truthfully, I would read a cookbook written by Marissa Meyer.
The measure of this story that was despite knowing where all the characters end up I still was rooting for their story to be changed.
Now for the spoilers
So the large aspect of this story is the romance. Now I do not always like or believe the insta-love. But the way these characters fell for each other was in the same way and at the same pace that it truly felt that they were meant for each other. Even though Jest was good and Cath obviously spirals downward. Now we had some conflict in book club about the overall quality of Jest and if he was as good as he seemed if his “true love” was someone as selfish as Cath as he loved her despite how she treated those around her.
Now, the other characters we barely get to see. My personal favorite was Hatta. He was so funny and I loved the hats (fun fact: I would read a novella just about the hat shop. PLEASE!) I thought he was the perfect foil for Cath. They were two selfish, entrepreneurial characters who were in love with same person. Only one took responsibility for themselves and not only wanted Jest but what was best for Jest. Cath didn’t even give her heart to Jest’s cause after it was gone.
If you like Alice in Wonderland I believe that you will enjoy the introduction of Chess and the looking glass. It made so much sense and worked so well into the story. There were a lot of little cute moments that made the overall book enjoyable to read even when the story was spiraling into darkness. For example the tea parties, Warthog and Mearle, finding out how a raven is like a writing desk. The book is wonderful for a fan of wonderland but maybe harder to understand or enjoy if you are not familiar with the source material.