[4 – 4.5 stars]
- Takeaway: Magic, monsters and madness—a fractured fairy tale vividly imagined and deeply felt.
- Related Posts: See more fantastical adventures | fairy tale retellings
- Book Type: Fairy tale fantasy/ romance
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In Heartless, The Lunar Chronicles author Marissa Meyer imagines how a girl full of hopes and dreams becomes the ruthless Red Queen of Wonderland we’ve come to know. Combining the whimsy of the familiar with the intrigue of the new, this fairy tale comes alive in ways both dazzling and heart wrenching.
We meet Lady Catherine—a girl who dreams not of crowns and gowns, of riches and power, but rather of the most wonderful cakes and pies in all of Hearts. All her life she’s hoped to open her own bakery with her best friend, to be happy in a billow of powdered sugar with the warm waft of an oven at work.
But when the King of Hearts sets his eyes on Cath, her dreams begin to fracture as her parents all but force a crown on her head. And during a night where her fate may have been sealed, she meets Jest—an enigmatic court jester with a penchant for the impossible.
“She felt like she could talk to him for hours, for days and months and years, and never tire of it. But… He was the court joker. He was an impossibility.”
Cath and Jest fall in love, in secret, with hopes that they can find a way to be together. All Cath wants is to choose her own path, be free to love Jest, and open the most wonderful bakery in Hearts.
“She would be his, if he wanted her.”
Yet in a kingdom brimming with magic and madness, nothing is as it seems and nothing goes as planned.
“You have my heart, Jest… I can’t tell if you’re a hero or villain, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Either way, my heart is yours.”
Marissa Meyer once again proves her prowess at retellings. Her stories tout the right balance between new and familiar, between magic and relability. This enchanting standalone story shows us just how a girl in love can turn into a heartless, terrifying queen infamous for the words “off with his head.”
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland―the infamous Queen of Hearts―she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
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.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
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