Heartless by Marissa Meyer releases on February 9th in the UK but in the US and Australia it released in November so I was able to get my hands on this book. Heartless is a Alice in Wonderland retelling by the queen of retellings – Marissa Meyer. This is actually my first Marissa Meyer book but I do have the Lunar Chronicles on my shelf to read very soon.
Heartless is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, well it’s set in the same world and has most of the same characters however it takes place earlier in the timeline. Going into the book we know that the main character Cath will end up as the Queen of Hearts, it’s basically her origin story. Cath is really nice and sweet, she dreams of opening a bakery in the kingdom but her parents want her to marry the king so make her go to a lot of court functions. Their efforts start to pay off and the king is interested in marrying Cath but she really doesn’t want to.
Enter Jest, the new court jester. He’s charming, mysterious and pivots between incredibly flirtatious one second and completely cold the next. Cath finds herself drawn to Jest, but as she discovers more about him she finds herself willing to do pretty much anything to avoid marrying the King. But how far will Cath actually go? And when it comes down to it, what matters the most to her?
I was able to find a bunch of book covers for Heartless, I think because the book is being released in countries all over the world at the moment. The one on the left is the American/Australian cover, then there is a white version of the same cover which was released in owlcrate (I think) as a special version.
Third is a cover that is new to me, I think it’s an alternative UK cover. I don’t love this one honestly, I feel like it doesn’t fully show what the story is about and how mystical and amazing it is. On the right is the UK cover I am familiar with. This one is so cute, I actually think I like it better than the US cover because it shows a bit more of what the story is about.
Now over here on the left is the Dutch cover. I really like it, I think that is is super amazing. It reminds me of the cover of Carrie Fletcher’s On The Other Side with the tree and the artistic style.
This book ripped my heart out and stomped on it several times. When it started off I was feeling kind of meh towards the book, it wasn’t bad but I wasn’t particularly interested. Then suddenly I was super conflicted and attached to the characters and I kind of knew where it was headed considering it is marketed as telling how the Queen of Hearts became who she is in Alice in Wonderland but I don’t know Alice in Wonderland super well so I was still unsure. I don’t read many stand alone novels so to have the stakes this high already was really intense for me. I like how this book had hints of how not only the Queen of Hearts became who she is in Alice in Wonderland but how the whole kingdom ends up like that.
Honestly the best thing about this book was Jest, he was just… ahhh. I want to give the book 5 stars because of him but I feel like the rest of it doesn’t quite deserve it so let’s just say it’s more of an unofficial 4.5 stars. Jest wasn’t particularly funny but he always stuck by Cath and he was just so precious and adorable and interesting. I want to know more about him. The only problem with him: why is his name Jest??? It is a nice name and it suits him but (view spoiler) Also I feel like the whole Peter Peter thing could have been further expanded. There was limited attention payed to the actual plot (aka the Jabberwock attacks) and more attention payed to Cath and her baking and her courtship. I know by the end she was bad ass but couldn’t that have happened a little earlier so she was hunting down the Jabberwock instead of dancing at balls?
The story was a bit lovey dovey and reminded me of the Selection in how the world made limited sense despite how cute it was. Cath wasn’t a super great character, she was a push over and very indecisive but I can see why she struggled to make/stick to a decision considering the pressure she was under and how things kept changing. Also why was that character called ‘Jack’ even there?? I kept expecting his hating Cath (our main character) to amount to something, I even got vibes he might secretly have a crush on her because I would expect nothing more from this book but no?? he did nothing?? why????
I did really enjoy this book and I liked how it ended, I can perfectly see how the Queen of Hearts becomes who she becomes from the end of this book and that was the aim of it. I liked all the call backs to Alice in Wonderland, however I feel like it is time for Marissa Meyer to move away from retellings. Not that they aren’t wonderful because they are, just because I’m sure she’s got other ideas that are more brilliant because they are truly her own and don’t have to be molded into the shape of another tale.
The Alice in Wonderland aspects. I’m not that big of an Alice in Wonderland fan but I really enjoyed all the bits that were in there that reminded me how much I actually do love wonderland. This book was the retelling that I never knew I needed.
Jest… like OMG he was so charismatic and every scene that he was in was amazing. I loved every aspect of him but I did feel like he overpowered the story… he was an important part of the main character’s development but honestly Heartless felt more like Jest’s story than our main characters.
The riddles and little hints of what was to come. The foreshadowing in this book was amazingly done. I didn’t know quite how this book was going to end up and right until the end I was questioning how Marissa Meyer was going to make our character end up as the queen of hearts. As we drew towards the end and everything was going wrong I was clinging to the slightest bit of hope that the characters would find a way out of the awful situation they were in.
The plot… kind of. Certain aspects of what went on didn’t interest me. There was far more stuff about the romance than there was about other aspects which could have been far more awesome to read. I think that I would have liked the story more if it was a bit more action focused and we got to explore certain aspects of the world more.
Cath was so weak. She didn’t actively make choices which was so annoying to read about. I just wanted her to stand up and say what she wanted but she didn’t. It got on my nerves so much.
The world was opened up a bunch more at the end of the story but we didn’t get the time to fully explore it. I really wanted to see more of the places we discovered, and I kind of feel like it would have been better to find a way to not introduce new aspects right at the end of the book.
Splintered by A. G Howard
This one is another Alice in Wonderland retelling that is a bit more fantasy. I haven’t read it and I don’t know if I plan on it but if you loved the Alice in Wonderland elements of Heartless be sure to check out Splintered.
The Shadow Thief by Alexandra Adornetto
This book has a similarly whimsical world and the events that take place has a similar feeling. It is aimed at a slightly younger audience but I would still highly recommend this book to those who want an easy and mystical read.
Doomed by Tracy Deebs
Doomed is a pandora’s box retelling set in the real world but with lots of mystical ish elements. The plot does kind of get away from it, but if you liked the characters in Heartless then Doomed is a good book for you.