Review: Heartless


Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4.5/5
Goal: 7/20

At its core, Heartless is the tale of a martyr, a murderer, a monarch and a mad(man). It follows the story of Lady Catherine Pinkerton as she dreams of opening a bakery, suffers through an unwanted courtship with the King of Hearts, falls in love with a court joker hiding a dark secret, saves a kingdom, and ultimately loses everything she once held dear.  The transformation from dreamer to woman hellbent on revenge was incredible, and probably my most favorite part of the story. Her fear and trepidation throughout the first 80% of the book became irritating; I wanted her to grow a spine and just do the damn thing. It took unfathomable loss for her to finally take charge, and she did it in a big way. The start of her well known madness was heart wrenching and triumphant and I loved it. Don't misunderstand: If happiness had truly been an option, I would have much preferred that for Cath. If she could have just told the hapless King that she wasn't interested (to which I'm sure he would have just said "Cool, bye," because he also lacked any true drive) and lived happily ever after, I would have been satisfied. But this was the origin story of the twisted Queen of Hearts; we already knew things wouldn't end joyously.

I was worried that my Disneyed knowledge of Alice in Wonderland would make me miss a lot of the references in Heartless, but in the end I don't think I was too disadvantaged. It was fun to compare these characters with who they become later: Hatta/Mad Hatter, Haigha/March hare, Catherine/Queen of Hearts, a more prestigious White Rabbit... even the Cheshire Cat was present, in a somewhat more friendly iteration than I remembered.

I liked Hatta as a darker character whose actions influence the fates of everyone around him, whether he intended the consequences or not. He was haunted and irreverent and ambitious and much more than a madman full of riddles.

Then there was the court joker, Jest. I wanted every interaction between Cath and Jest to last 700X longer. I wanted him to steal Catherine away from the unhappy life she was facing. I wanted him to be her happy ending, instead of her downfall. His secret was a great twist in an already great story.

* S P O I L E R S *

I loved the martyr/murderer/monarch/mad prophecy, because in the end Cath is all four things. Her heart was martyred for the sake of revenge; she murdered the Jaberwock; she became the Queen of Hearts; and she was driven mad by grief.  I see what you did there, Marissa Meyer, and I am here for it!

* E N D   S P O I L E R S *

Heartless was overall a very good book. It dragged just a tiny bit for me in some spots-- mostly when I wanted those Cath/Jest flirtations to linger longer and felt like it was entirely too long between interactions! I thoroughly enjoyed Meyer's take on Wonderland and its inhabitants.

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