Author: Marissa Meyer
My Rating: 4 Stars
“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”
Having rarely been immersed in the classic world of Alice in Wonderland in the past, Heartless by Marissa Meyer threw me into this impossible, whimsical world and I fell in love. And falling in love can in fact lead to a broken heart, which is one of the many emotions I endured because of this tale of the Queen of Hearts before she was the Queen of Hearts. Throughout this book I felt joyful, flushed, in love, annoyed, heartbroken, and angry.
Heartless follows Catherine (Cath), a young girl who only wants to follow her dreams of opening up a bakery. She is the daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness and because of this, expectations weigh her down, ones she wishes she could defy but deep down knows it would be useless. So Cath went on dreaming of the impossibilities with her maid and best friend Mary Ann. Cath knew that the inevitability of the King of Heart’s proposal of marriage was to be bestowed upon her and that her rejection would follow the disappointment of her parents, who were so pleased at the notion of their only daughter becoming queen. Cath’s dreams of the bakery were soon met with the dreams of being with Jest, the new court joker, who she encounters unexpectedly after running away from an almost marriage proposal. Jest was enchanting, entertaining, romantic, and impossible and their forbidden fondness for each other grew rapidly and passionately.
Heartless was such a beautiful but oh so strange read that was hard to put down once the story took off. Almost like falling down a rabbit hole with no tether to stop you from reaching the end. My 4 star rating was the result of my love of the characters and the entertainment of the world’s magical elements, but I was pained by the fact that I felt heartless myself at a certain point in this story, so I couldn’t give it that perfect rating.
Talking animals, a romantic relationship between a pig and a human, enchanted pumpkins that can turn someone into the vilest creature, a vanishing cat, and so much more.
Wonderland is an odd place and despite expecting all this already, it definitely had me surprised more times than I could keep track of.
My love for the main characters, Cath, Jest, Mary Ann, Hatta and Raven, left me in complete shreds by the end because all I wanted was for my favourites to be happy.
Cath knew what would bring her joy for the rest of her life, opening up a bakery and being with Jest, but was restricted by her parent’s dream of her becoming queen. Unfortunately the world she lived in didn’t see it proper for a woman to own a business, especially one who already had a high title in society. Her reputation was on the line, one she didn’t care about tarnishing, but her parents obviously thought differently. I just wish Cath was able to stand up for herself, her future, her happiness from the beginning, to not allow anyone to restrain her wants and dreams.
This beautiful, spirited joker who only wanted a lifetime at Cath’s side! I just can’t. I knew from the moment we met Jest that something was going to happen. There needed to be a motivation, something to turn Cath into the one thing she never wanted to be. And of course I was preparing myself for the inevitable, but when it happened, it didn’t sting any less.
There were so many great moments between him and Cath though. I loved the angst when Jest had to help woo Cath on the King’s behalf and witness their courtship, wishing he was in the King’s place. I loved when they snuck away in the middle of the night to join Hatta’s tea party, which is also where he found out how much of a talented baker she was. Or that time she chooses him and he whisks her away from the King and kisses her passionately. There were too many beautiful moments and all I can say is that Jest deserved better.
It was all just multiple catastrophic events that lead to that fated outcome. If Hatta didn’t throw those pumpkin seeds in the patch, if Mary Ann wasn’t stupid enough to venture there by herself, if Cath didn’t decide to go through that door… maybe things would have turned out alright. But it’s exhausting to think about all the what ifs.
Like I’ve said before, that outcome was inevitable. Cath needed to be heartless, to seek vengeance, to be angry, and what better way to motivate her into becoming one of the most treacherous villains we have ever known then by taking away the one person she loved the most from her life in the most horrific way.
Despite feeling sad about this conclusion, I’m actually glad that Raven stayed with her. Even though he has now become her executioner and the whole thing is entirely messed up, at least she still has a part of Jest with her. I just hope between all that wickedness she realizes it too.
I’ve always found Marissa Meyer’s stories easy to stay absorbed in from the very first line. I love how she’s able to take these beloved and well-known characters, write a unique twist to their stories, and still include elements from the original. For example, Jest gave her white roses and the castle gardens were full of them, reminding her of the grief and pain she was enduring from losing him. So she demanded only red roses to be planted, which is a parallel to “painting the roses red.”
I believe where the story ended was pretty conclusive and it makes sense that Heartless is a standalone, but I’m not opposed to a sequel if Marissa Meyer ever wanted to tell more of Cath’s story. Regardless, I’m looking forward to reading more books by Marissa Meyer.