Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Pan Macmillan. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. 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 an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Long before the malevolent Queen of Hearts came to be, she was an ordinary girl who simply wanted to fall in love. When I originally heard that Marissa Meyer was delving into the back story of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, I was ecstatic. Not only did I believe that Meyer produced miracles with the wondrous Lunar Chronicles, but I wondered where she could actually take the story. Well, anywhere I guess, it is Wonderland after all! Heartless surprised me actually because it wasn't the Lunar Chronicles at all, and in reflection I'm not quite sure why I expected it to be. However, that doesn't say that Heartless didn't live up to it's predecessors reputation because I actually did enjoy it.
The general plot line of Cath being a baker both amused and pleased me. It was nice to see that the portrayal of royalty could be almost ordinary. Well, at least in Cath's eyes. It was quite fitting that the Queen of Hearts, who loves her tarts, had a history and fascination with the culinary arts of baking. Whilst a royal figure who seeks escape from the tight confounds of royalty is nothing new to the YA genre, (as realistically, most YA heroines tend to hail from some position of power) it was refreshing and I appreciated Meyer's decision to write Cath in this way. Now, saying that, the plot of Cath falling in love with the Court Joker, well that led to some very assumptive predictions. What would be the one thing to change a girl of desire and adoration to the Wonderland villain we know and fear today? Love. Of course it would be. In my personal opinion, I saw this section to be slightly cliche, and I think I would have liked to have seen Cath descend into her role as the Queen of Hearts gradually. It all seemed to occur very suddenly and very conclusively.
Now, Heartless did have it's many positives, one of which exposed us as readers to Meyer's version of a twisted Wonderland; the Kingdom of Hearts. In Meyer's Wonderland we do get to meet some elements and characters from the original world such as the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. Whilst these elements added a reminiscent value to the story, I still felt that the Kingdom of Hearts could have been developed more, especially considering this is a stand alone novel. I would have liked to have explored some of the more elaborate elements of Wonderland, outside of the main realm of Hearts.
Conclusively, as a backstory for a villain, Heartless was a thoroughly enjoyable standalone novel that reinstalled my love of Marissa Meyer's iconic and mythical writing style. Whilst I could definitely have seen areas that could have been developed, obviously that is just the opinion of this blogger. On my classification scale, I'd award Heartless by Marissa Meyer a 4 out of 5 stars.