My Rating: 3.75/5 stars
“Now mine eyes see the heart that once we did search for, and I fear this heart shall be mended, nevermore.”
As someone who has not read Meyer’s other series–the Lunar Chronicles–I should probably explain why I chose to read Heartless:
- I heard you didn’t have to read the LC before it.
- It’s a standalone, so I would be able to sample Meyer’s writing without potentially abandoning a series.
- It’s the Queen of Heart’s backstory. That’s right, from Alice in Wonderland. Which also means the main character is a villain–and I live for villains.
- And, okay, let’s be real here. The hardcover. With the dust jacket and, especially, without, it’s stunning.
“‘These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,’ he said, vanishing up to his neck. ‘They happen only in nightmares.'”
In the land of Hearts, Lady Catherine Pinkerton–Cath–is seventeen and has a passion for baking that easily rivals Cookie Monster’s love for cookies–although, she does love those too (any dessert, really). She dreams to one day co-own a bakery with her business-savvy best friend Mary Ann–currently her family’s maid–and to share her masterpieces with all of Hearts.
“This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she’d created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic.”
But as heir to the Marquess and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove, how dare she set such low expectations for her life? Her mother strongly disapproves of Cath’s “hobby,” deeming it “a job fit for servants.” The King of Hearts, however, just so happens to adore her creations, and for that sole reason her mother continues to tolerate it. The King–get this–is unmarried and–big surprise–has his heart set on Catherine to be his bride and the future Queen of Hearts.
But Cath does not wish to be queen–after all, how would her bakery dream be possible as a queen? She also has zero interest in the King. At least 15 years her senior, and several inches shorter, His Majesty is a decidedly simple man. Although he is exceedingly kind and generous, Cath has no romantic feelings for him whatsoever.
“A heart, once stolen, can never be taken back.”
Caught between wanting to please her mother and wanting to pursue her confectionary dreams, yet another variable enters the equation when Catherine finds herself gravitating towards the charming new court joker, Jest. The night before they meet, she dreams of his disarming yellow eyes and has the distinct feeling he has taken something that belongs to her.
“‘It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.’”
In addition to Cath’s internal conflict over her future, Hearts is riddled with a massive–pun intended–problem. The mythical creature known as the Jabberwocky is wreaking havoc, stealing and devouring its citizens. Hearts desperately needs a hero(ine) to put an end to it.
Riddles and rhymes, absurd characters and disappearing cats, tea parties and flamingo croquet, magical foods and magical hats, romance and vengeance–this book has it all. Meyer has perfectly captured the nonsensical atmosphere found in Lewis Carroll’s enchanting world.
I also think this book was a strong backstory for the Queen of Hearts. Like Regina from Once Upon a Time, we see that she wasn’t born evil; she was a caring, ambitious young woman who was deeply wronged, and the events that take place in this book forever change her. And that’s what makes a good villain–a good backstory.
“‘Fascinating, isn’t it, how often heroic and foolish turn out to be one and the same.’”
All in all, I enjoyed Heartless. It’s hard and strange to read a book that you know is ultimately going to end up a certain way, but nonetheless I still appreciated the ride, the colorful characters, and the intriguing world Meyer gave us. I will soon, hopefully, be reading the Lunar Chronicles.