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Non 1001 Book Review: Heartless Marissa Meyer

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Do you love a good retelling? This may be the book for you. Check out Book Worm’s review of Marissa Meyer’s latest retelling. This time she takes on Alice in Wonderland. 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★★
Find it here: Heartless

This ARC was provided by Pan Macmillan, Macmillan Children’s Books (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I have to say I love a good fairytale retelling and this certainly ticked all the boxes. I am sure anyone who has read Alice in Wonderland has probably puzzled over how the hopeless king managed to end up with an angry despotic wife. While we may have felt sympathy for the queen’s husband and her subjects in the original telling of the story, we never stopped to think that maybe being married to such a hopeless King is what has made the Queen into what she is in the first place. Finishing this book has made me want to jump straight back into the original story to see how well they fit together. Forget the no re-reads rule. Rules are made to be broken! (Update since writing this review, I have broken my rule and re-read the original Alice series and this book does indeed cleverly set up how almost every character has come to be where they were in the original series).

In case you haven’t already guessed, Heartless is the backstory of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. We meet Cath when she is a simple girl whose greatest desire is to open a bakery with her best friend Mary Ann and to bake the best cakes in Wonderland. Being from an aristocratic family, you can guess how well that plan will go down with her parents. Cath is determined that her bakery will become a reality, but she has some heavy obstacles to overcome. As we all know that Cath ends up as the Queen of Hearts, all we the reader can do is watch as her life, her choices, and her desire to escape fate are all whittled down into the inevitable. What a journey it is full of madcap characters, secret love, monsters, delicious cakes, and an overriding desire for revenge!

All your favourite characters from Alice in Wonderland can be found in this book. It shows how the Wonderland that Alice first encounters has come to be, and how it was before. It also makes the Queen’s reactions somehow understandable.

I love the way various elements of the original story are woven into this backstory. While the Queen may be the villain of Alice in Wonderland, in this retelling no-one is completely innocent or guilt free. They all had a hand in creating the Queen and turning her into the monstrous character we already know.

Who would enjoy this: I would recommend this to everyone because surely everyone loved Alice in Wonderland didn’t they? This will especially appeal to those who like their characters grey and not simply black or white.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Heartless

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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