TW: This Review Contains Potential SPOILERS!
Good afternoon you B-e-a-utiful Bookworms! ^_^
Do I have a post-Valentine’s Day treat for you.
Today’s review is for a true masterpiece- Heartless, by Marissa Meyer. This spectacular novel delves into the fictional world of Hearts, part of the world created for Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Caroll in 1865.
When writing the original Alice in wonderland, Lewis Caroll had this to say-
‘I pictured to myself, the Queen of Hearts, as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion- a blind and aimless fury.’
With that in mind, I felt that Marissa Meyer stayed true to Caroll’s original characters, particularly to Catherine’s overwhelming sense of passion and fury, as mentioned above. Meyer possesses a most unique style reminiscent of Caroll’s own. Her’s is a rather matter of fact style that describes (in great detail) the world of Hearts and all its wonders.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the main review.
Author: Marissa Meyer:
Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Reimagining
‘Before she was the Queen of Hearts, she was just a girl that wanted to fall in love.’
Catherine Pinkerton, daughter to the Marquess of Rock turtle Cove (in the land of Hearts) longs to open up a bakery, to make use of her greatest talent, but her vindictive stepmother and less than useless father have more fanciful notions in mind for their child.
From start to finish, I loved Catherine’s character. She is brave, intelligent, witty, and above all, tenacious. Even her dreams give birth to strange plants, with roses and lemon trees appearing out of thin air. But, Catherine was by no means my favourite character.
Although Hatta and the Cheshire Cat did transfix me and stir laughter deep inside me, there was one other character that surpassed them all- Jest.
We are first introduced to Jest, the Court Joker at the King’s Black and White Ball, where Catherine finds herself the centre of attention, being the only one wearing blood red. The mysterious Jest is the only other person who seems out of place in the grand palace and soon enough, his fate begins to entwine with Catherine’s. Being a most charming entertainer, Jest also proves himself to be a perfect gentleman, with the uncanny ability to make people laugh, especially Catherine.
To Catherine, Jest appears to represent the idea of a real, tangible future, where she could be seen as an equal, and pursue her dreams of opening a successful bakery in the land of Hearts.
Every scene with Jest is so intricately described that it felt like I was walking onto a magnificent canvas, only to see a splendid work of art unfolding before me.
I adored Meyer’s intricate descriptions of Hearts, and applaud her ability in resurrecting some of Lewis Caroll’s best loved fictional characters. Everything from the rocking-horse-flies, to the unbirthday cakes and flamingo croquet had me thinking back to the Alice in Wonderland Disney Movie that I loved so much as a child. The characters had the same feel to them emotionally and now I’m even more excited to read Caroll’s original tale.
In Meyer’s story, there is a lot of inner turmoil for Catherine as she is pursued romantically by both the King of Hearts, and Jest. While Catherine strives to make her dreams of owning a bakery a reality, those around her (bar Jest) only seek to hold her back.
With regards to the tone and pacing of the novel.
Heartless began with a lighthearted feeling, which made me feel as though I were walking on air. Then, as the story progresses, the tension builds, and the existence of the Jabberwock (an evil, man-eating beast) becomes known.
I found it rather refreshing that I made it half-way into the novel before the concept of real love was first introduced. Although Catherine knows she shouldn’t (as she has obligations to the King of Hearts, who longs to have her as his wife), she begins to fall hard for Jest.
The following two quotes both express Catherine’s extraordinary sense of passion when it comes to her heart and her personal choices.
‘Sometimes, your heart is the only thing worth listening to.’
‘My heart is not a game piece, to be played, and discarded at will.’
Catherine views her heart as being hers alone to give away, as she rightly should. She refuses to have someone-else make her life decisions, a subject that remains key throughout the entire novel.
Having reached the half way point now, I was presented with a far more realistic time-frame for characters to fall in love than we see in most modern-day books.
In fact, it is Jest’s sheer belief in Catherine and her talent that had me loving him from the start. Such encouragement and pride demonstrates a real depth of love, and not just some fairytale infatuation.
Now, this is where the TW comes into play! SPOILERS!
The end of the story cut me to my core. With Catherine ignoring the warning of the three creepy sisters in the well (as she, Jest, and Hatta cross through The Looking Glass), my favourite character was suddenly no more, their demise being a most brutal one at that.
With Jest torn from Catherine’s side (ironically being her own fault for returning to Hearts from The Looking Glass), we see her character sink further and further into despair. We soon see the significance that the white roses play (we see the Queen of Hearts ordering them painted red on the Disney movie, AND in Meyer’s book, toward the end), with Catherine no longer able to bear the sight of them as they remind her far too much of Jest and the first night they met, when he handed her a single white rose. Catherine simply cannot stand to be reminded of the life she could have had and becomes a bitter and vengeful individual.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended? Definitely! For fantasy and fairytale lovers.
If you enjoyed this review, then you may enjoy:
Of Flesh and Fire (YA Fantasy Review)