Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Published: November 8th 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – Booktopia – Pan Macmillan Aus
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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.
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!
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.”