As is the case with most women my age, I’ve suffered my fair share of heartbreak. The kind that has you curling up in bed and sobbing, while eating any kind of chocolate you can get your hands on. No offense to my ex-boyfriends, but not a single one of them has broken my heart as much as Marissa Meyer’s “Heartless” did. I read the last four chapters of this book through tears—not the cute little tears that Hollywood starlets cry in romantic comedies, I’m talking big, fat crocodile tears.
Anyone who knows anything about the “Alice in Wonderland” story is aware that the Queen of Hearts is not a happy character—the premise of this book makes it abundantly clear that the protagonist, Catherine, will not get her happy ending. Despite this, I found myself hoping that Meyer was going to find a way for Catherine to get everything she wanted. I didn’t like her at the beginning of the book, (I hated how judgmental she is), but by page 200 I was rooting for her wholeheartedly.
Heartbreak aside, the telling of the Queen of Hearts’ story was beyond clever. I love that Catherine was a baker whose only dream was to open her own shop. Although she was naive, her passion for baking was endearing in spite of our rocky introduction. The best thing about Catherine was her relationship with Jest. It was through her interactions with him that she became a lovable character. Their star-crossed love story, while tragic, was the best part of the book for me.
In true Marissa Meyer fashion, no detail was missed in this enchanting retelling. “Heartless” is jam packed full of characters that fans of Alice in Wonderland will recognize— the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit to name a few. Meyer didn’t stop at telling the story of the Queen’s descent into evil, she gave us the hatter’s backstory as well. Showcasing a talent that few authors can master, Meyer winds the fates of all of the characters into an intricate plot. Little details that seemed irrelevant over the course of the book became imperative by the end.
That being said, I did struggle to finish “Heartless.” I’ve picked it up and put it down multiple times over the course of the last two weeks. The books starts and ends well, but the middle dragged a bit. I began to lose interest about 100 pages in, and only found it again after the 250 page mark. I was almost constantly annoyed by the King—he seemed like such a child. How did such a man become a king in the first place? I dreaded Catherine’s interactions with him almost as much as she seemed to.
Despite a slow moving middle, “Heartless” is absolutely a book worth reading. It tugged on my heartstrings more than any book I have read in a long time. While I still consider “The Lunar Chronicles” to be Marissa Meyer’s best work, she has proven yet again that she is Queen of the retelling genre.