*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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When browsing NetGalley – which is becoming something of a vice – I noticed this offering and after thoroughly enjoying Cinders, I put in a request to read it.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of heartlessHearts, 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.

If you have read and enjoyed Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, then do consider tracking down this YA prequel to his madcap world. Catherine is a joy. I immediately bonded with her open-hearted approach to life and her interest in baking. Meyer has done an excellent job in depicting her privileged life that, nevertheless, is rather empty when it comes to close, loving relationships to the extent that her closest friend is her maid. This first person narrative is harder to pull off than Meyer makes it look, given that she also has to nail Carroll’s peculiar world.

For me, this is the book’s real strength – as a girl I loved the world Lewis presented and Meyer’s depiction of it is both clever and respectful. The kingdom of Hearts has its own quirky rules, which Meyer presents with minimum fuss or explanation so that we fully accept the idea of playing cards running around the place. Neither has she glossed or ignored any of that quirkiness – I enjoyed the Cheshire cat, whose sudden appearances and perceptive comments are entirely in keeping with Lewis’s world. While the account of the croquet game, complete with hedgehogs and flamingos, is funny and bizarre. This is a large part of the book’s charm – while there is a dark undertow, the amusing Lewis-inspired episodes throughout had me grinning, both at the humour and Meyer’s skill in weaving her own narrative within this complex and very odd world.

The catch with prequels is that you generally know the outcome, apart from some minor details, so there has to be something other than the plotline to keep you reading. The ongoing romance throughout this book was well handled – I cared for the couple and hoped they would prevail. Given I’m not a fan of lurve stories (yawn) the fact that I found myself rooting for this one is a testament to Meyer’s excellent writing. And part of the game in these retellings is recognising key characters that featured in the original classic and seeing what Meyer has done with them. Like the original, there is amongst the surreal oddity a sense of wrongness to this world which on occasions breaks into violence – the Jabberwock attacks are a shock in this mannered world where what you wear and how you wear it is the one of the yardsticks to social success. Meyer’s pacing, where she steadily increases the momentum of the story to that amazing climax, is pitch perfect, providing us with the world we now recognise from Alice’s own visit in Lewis’s classic. As you may have gathered, I loved this one and it comes highly recommended.

While I obtained the arc of Heartless from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.
10/10

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11 responses »

  1. Still struggling with requesting from Netgalley too, huh? I really should stop… I had no idea it could become this addictive!

    Great review by the way, I am glad you enjoyed the book.

    • I know… I know… It REALLY does become addictive, doesn’t it?? That said, one of the draws is the fabulous selection of books I’ve read since properly taking part. And this is another highly enjoyable read:).

      • That is so true! I just hope I get to somewhat keep up. I would like to get my feedback rate at least back to the 70s.
        But yes, it does seem all worth it when we find a precious gem amongst the huge pile.

  2. I’ve heard of this book but have paid no attention at all to what it’s about so I’m really glad that I read your fab review as I adore Alice in Wonderland and all things related to it. I’m definitely going to have to get a copy of Heartless to read.

    • Thank you, Hayley! If you enjoy Alice in Wonderland, I think you’re in for a treat – she’s done a great job in taking her story and weaving it successfully into the original plot.

  3. Alice in Wonderland is a book I could never get into as a child and have always regretted. I love the idea of it but just couldn’t lose myself in it. I wonder if I could with something like this?

    • I can fully understand if it is a book that didn’t chime – Himself adored ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and even trying to reread it at an adult still didn’t do it for me. That said, if you are even vaguely aware of the story, I think this one could draw you in – Catherine is a really sympathetic protagonist and the love story and adventure is very readable.

      • I do wonder if it’s the kind of knowing the story that makes it hard to read. Alice is one of the those characters everyone knows and so when I tried to read the book, even at a young age, I had pre-conceived notions of the book. I agree with Himself – loved Swallows and Amazons 🙂

      • Yes, I think it’s an issue – especially if you’d already seen one of the film versions of Alice, for instance. I’ll let Himself know you also like Swallows and Amazons:).

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