"Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants 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 handsome and 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, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans."
Carolyn's thoughts on the book:
The Lunar Chronicles was a fantastic series, and I was excited when I first heard about Heartless: another fairy-tale adaptation from Marissa Meyer, but focused on the villain, not the original protagonist; instead of a futuristic sci-fi setting, more of a classic fantasy setting.
Marissa Meyers captivates in her most ambitious book yet: a prequel showing the dark path of the future Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Similar to Fairest, the book is more a psychological exploration of the main character, rather than an action-packed installment of a series (though Heartless certainly has its fair share of adventure and danger).
One of the best things about prequels, especially prequels that seek to explain villains, is that you know the ending - you already knew that Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader when you watched The Phantom Menace. You already knew that Levana would grow up to become the merciless villain-queen of the Lunar Chronicles when you read Fairest. And now, when you read Heartless, you already know that the main character Catherine will become the despotic Queen of Hearts featured in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It is not a question of who she becomes, but rather how she becomes the Queen of Hearts.
Catherine is, at first glance, a classic fantasy trope: a daughter of nobility soon to be betrothed to someone she hates, when all she wants is freedom and independence. But Catherine’s opposition to her intended isn’t her affection for someone else, but her own passion for baking - an independent ambition that makes for a refreshing change. Her Mrs. Bennet-esque mother, though, has far greater ambitions for her daughter than owning a bakery (or even allowing her only child to inherit the family title and become the Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove); no, she wants her daughter to wed the insipid King of Hearts and become the Queen.
While attempting to escape the King’s attentions, Catherine takes refuge in the palace gardens; there, she meets Jest, the new, enigmatic court joker. The two form an inseparable bond, and sneak out to attend mad tea parties; their adventures together only lead Catherine to fall more in love. But Jest is not all that he seems: from a different world, serving a different queen, with his own agenda and motives.
And in the meantime, all is not well in the kingdom of Hearts. A mysterious, sinister couple appear at the ball, only to scare Catherine off their property when she visits them. The Jabberwock ravages the kingdom, and no one is safe - especially those traveling at night together.
Of course, Catherine is still being courted by the King of Hearts, who, while vapid, is not oblivious...
This all culminates in a dark and tragic altercation that will change the course of Catherine’s life, forever.
Meyers uses her trademark world-building to give depth and life to Carroll’s Wonderland, also blending several tales: while Alice in Wonderland is heavily utilized for the setting, as well as the plot, Meyers branches out from there, incorporating everything from nursery rhymes to the works of Edgar Allen Poe. The end result is a beautiful amalgamation of classic literature and fantasy.
While Heartless is a standalone book, Marissa Meyers already has some more projects up her sleeves - Wires and Nerves, a graphic novel starring Iko from the Lunar Chronicles, and The Gatlon School for Vigilantes, the start of a new, superhero YA series. I look forward to the release of both.
Carolyn is a teen blogger who shares her favorite YA reads and favorite book related finds with readers on Fridays.