Review – Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Heartless is the story of how Catherine, the daughter of the Marquess of Rock Turtle Cove became the Queen of Hearts, the pantomime villain from Alice in Wonderland. The problem with retellings is the fact that we often know how the story will end, so the journey must be an enjoyable one to get us to our destination. Meyer pulls it off perfectly in Heartless – it’s got a tough protagonist, a forbidden romance and all the weirdness of Wonderland to get us to our heartbreaking and strangely satisfying ending.
I liked the blend of Wonderland and Regency/Victorian England. A woman can’t own a business and marriage is first on her mind, so it gives plenty of obstruction for Cath to rub up against. The weirdness of Wonderland was kinda brushed over, ignored rather than explained but I think that was better than being bogged down in world building.
Cath starts off a very naive character – does she really think that she’ll open a bakery with her maid? But then, realising what dreams can happen and which cannot is part of growing up, so it’s amazing character development.
Her relationship with Jest felt a bit rushed, but that was due understandable due to space considerations probably. The twist in their relationship was absolutely stunning.
Too much time is spent establishing that she REALLY DOESN’T WANT TO MARRY THE KING and she REALLY WANTS TO OPEN A BAKERY. So much so that a lot of valuable time is wasted, so it seems like the action sequences and the mystery behind it all appeared out of nowhere, and that their development was sacrificed for a discussion about dresses and how silly the king was.
Meyer’s writing was on top form, and the characters, setting and plot were all totally engaging. The only reason I did not give it five stars were for the following reason: I would like to see a book where the female character’s development is not about a man.
Cath’s story almost totally revolved around her refusal to marry the king, the secret relationship with Jest and the conflict therein. There was a really promising storyline growing where she realised how ineffectual the king was as a ruler and that she felt compelled to seize power, but that was lost in favour of her (view spoiler)[ seeking revenge for her slain lover, and that leading her to become a despot (hide spoiler)].
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