Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer [Spoiler Free]


HeartlessGenre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Published: November 8th 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Pages: 464
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson BooktopiaPan Macmillan Aus
Follow Marissa Meyer on Twitter

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, 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 unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath 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.

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I was provided with a free copy of this book via Pan Macmillan Australia and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

When I first heard about Heartless I was extremely excited. I absolutely love Alice in Wonderland and hearing this was a retelling that focused on the Queen of Hearts made me even more excited. I always have a thing for the villains. Unfortunately, the only thing this book made feel is hungry and wanting an endless supply of baked goods. 

Catherine doesn’t want to be Queen. She just wants to open a bakery with her best friend (and maid), Mary Anne. She knows she’s going to struggle to get her parents, who are the Marquees and Marchioness, permission. However, when the King of Hearts wants Catherine to be his bride and she meets and falls in love with the Court Jester, Jest, things get even more complicated.

I really enjoyed Catherine’s character. I really felt for her at times because her parents (especially) her mother were unbearable. They refused to listen to her and her mother would even refuse to let her eat at times. I was curious as to how Meyer was going to make the Queen of Hearts human. She’s such a well-known villain it would definitely be a difficult task. I was also curious as to see what exactly would turn her into that villain we all know and love. Whilst Meyer did an excellent job at making Catherine human, the penultimate event that turned her into the Queen of Hearts fell really flat for me.

This leads me to the next point… the romance. There was, in my opinion, so much instalove. I appreciate that this is a standalone fantasy and I understand that there can’t be some slow-burn epic romance, but a few pages after Catherine and Jest met they were infatuated with each other. Catherine was even thinking of the love word. They had ONE CONVERSATION? I didn’t believe one second of it. I spent more time rolling my eyes. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really care for Jest at all.

The cast of side characters were all really interesting. There’s lots of appearances by Wonderland favourites. One of my favourite parts of this book was definitely Hatta (The Mad Hatter). I loved him!  

Heartless by Marissa Meyer 1.png
Fascinating, isn’t it, how often heroic and foolish turn out to be one and the same.
The main thing that made me struggle with this book is that nothing happened until 40 chapters in. I’m trying to think of something to write in this review, but I’m coming up empty. There were a few action packed scenes which involved a Jabberwock attack, but that’s about it. I did enjoy the ending and the strongest part of the book was definitely when Catherine started turning into the Queen of Hearts.

I loved the setting, it was vivid and very Wonderland-esque. However, if you’ve never read Alice in Wonderland, or don’t have any prior knowledge, you could be left really confused. The world building is all based on the assumption that the reader already has prior knowledge to the world that Carroll had already created. Meyer also had amazing descriptions of all the food Cath baked that left me wanting an endless supply.  I enjoyed The writing style too. It was very whimsical and suited the world. 

As a side-note there’s a LGBTQIA+ trope in here that annoys me to absolutely no end. Cath also has no female friends besides Mary Anne and something that happens with them left me really annoyed too.

So, whilst there were elements of Heartless that I enjoyed – it ultimately fell flat for me. If you don’t mind instant romances or slow plots then you might enjoy this a lot more! I know a lot of people have rated this 4 or 5 stars, so don’t let my review discourage you.

“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”



43 thoughts on “Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer [Spoiler Free]

  1. Great review! I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like it as much as others seemed to, but honestly, seeing a low review makes me feel better. This book is on my TBR, and sometimes, when it seems like everyone loves a book, it’s super intimidating to me! It always makes me feel like a book will be impossible to live up to it’s hype then.


  2. Oh no!! I’m so sorry you didn’t love this one but I understand your reasoning. I can definitely see what you mean about the instalove, but I loved it! XD You also have a point about the world building being confusing for people who don’t already know Wonderland. (Although, is there anyone who isn’t familiar with Wonderland?) Great review with good points! Better luck next time, I hope!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds


  3. I only really scanned your review for this book Lauren because I have an ARC and want to go into it with no expectations or anything you know? Still I’m sorry to see this one didn’t live up to your expectations. I haven’t seen many reviews for this one but a lot of people seem to be highly anticipating it, do you think that’s what let it down for you a little, all the hype?


    1. Thanks, Beth!! For me personally it was because of the slow plot and unbelievable romance. I knew about the hype but it wasn’t really a factor for me. I think it was my own expectations too because I love Alice in Wonderland so much so as soon as I hear something’s based around it I immediately have super high standards haha. The setting was amazing though. I hope you enjoy it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a massive fan of Alice in Wonderland as well so I wonder if it will be the same case for me. Normally I don’t mind slow starts to stories if there’s the character development there as well but I am not a fan of insta-love at all!
        It’s great to hear the setting was well done though, that’s always my favourite part of fantasy books when it comes down to it!
        Thanks Lauren! 🙂


        1. I’d definitely be interested to see what you think since you love Alice so much. I feel like Cath was a likable character, but the reason she became the Red Queen just wasn’t believable for me because I couldn’t get behind the romance. Marissa Meyer did a great job of making her human though!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I plan on getting around to it soon, hopefully before the end of the moth but my review won’t be posted until closer to the UK release date (February!) Yeah I’ll definitely let you know what I think, I love Marissa Meyer so I can’t wait to get started on her next book!

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh it’s too bad you didn’t love this book too much. I have it on my TBR and I’m eager to get to it, especially since it’s in Alice’s world and everything, I love this world so much. But insta-love? That’s too bad, why did this have to happen, that’s a shame :/


  5. This was an awesome review, Lauren! I was so excited for Heartless to be released, especially since I love The Lunar Chronicles, but I’ve seen a lot of early reviews like yours that have left me feeling a little disappointed. (Though, I must say, yours is the most informative that I’ve come across!) I’m sorry that Heartless disappointed you because it didn’t live up to the expectations you had. But thank-you so much for writing this review! I might still read this book, but my expectations won’t be as high 🙂


  6. Fantastic review! Too bad it did not live up to your expectations 😦 Instalove? Meh!!! I’m not a big fan of retelling and I have never read Alice in Wonderland (yeah, I know!!) so I did not know about this book, but your review was an interesting read!


  7. Love this, Lauren! I’m only about 70 pages into Heartless (struggling again, what is life with these ARCs?!) and finding myself totally agreeing with what you’ve said here. I haven’t gotten to Jest yet, but the word instalove doesn’t fill me with much hope haha…! The writing style is nice, like you said, but it is quite slow. THE CAKES SOUND AMAZING THOUGH.


    1. Thanks Sammie 💗 hahaha I knowww. I’m always so excited but they just keep seem to be letting me down 😪 but right. The plot is so slow. It honestly could have been half the size it was. I’ll defs be interested to see what you think of Jest and Catherine. YES AT THE CAKES THOUGH. It made me so hungry 😂


  8. Oh no instalove and slow paced plots are two things that make me not want to finish a book. Especially the slow pacing, sometimes I can look past instalove but when a book is too slow I get bored really easily 🙈. It sucks that it didn’t live up to your expectations. I’ll have to lower mine quite a bit before going into it. 😖


  9. Aw no, I’m sad that it fell flat for you. I do want to read this but i’m not a fan of insta-love so I can see myself already feeling very similar to you. I will probably end up putting this off for a little while until some of the hype has died down then give it a go. If their is slow pacing as well as the insta-love then it will be a battle for me to get through it so *note to self; attempt at a stage when you don’t have tons of uni work*.


  10. I know we just talked about the slow pace but I will also agree that this book is definitely for those readers that are familiar with Lewis Caroll’s Wonderland. I can see how you would feel lost since there are many references to the original. I fell in love with the writing style & many times found myself wanting a pastry…many times actually going out to get one LOL. Sucks that it fell flat for you but it happens 😉


  11. I’m glad I finally found a spoiler-less review! I’ve been intrigued by the concept of this retelling but I might wait a bit to pick it up. But I do love baked goods….


  12. Ooh, interesting! So not a rave review. I like how you broke it down though. You always justify why you feel the way you do, so I trust your opinion.
    I’ve been waiting for this book forever, and I’ll be waiting a little longer since I’m on the Overdrive waiting list. But it sounds like I’m not needing to read this ASAP, so I feel a bit better. 👏👏👏👏👏


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