Hey, bookies! I'm helping Fierce Reads celebrate the days until #Heartless by sharing the #HeartlessCountdown poster below -- you can download a copy here! -- and my review of this epic retelling/origin story from the wondrous Marissa Meyer:
Join the #HeartlessCountdown and check out all 50 daily challenges from @FierceReads! To participate in today's challenge, just share a picture of the #HeartlessCountdown poster (linked above) in your town on Twitter or Instagram using #HeartlessCountdown and #Sweepstakes and you'll be entered to win a special edition advance copy of Heartless and MORE every single day.
Now, on to my review...
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — 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 yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she 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.
Ah, this wonderful, dreamy little book. Anyone who's read Alice in Wonderland knows the Queen of Hearts to be a ruthless monarch, who ruled the land with frequent taunts of "Off with his head!" So, to say that I went into this origin story with some trepidation about the ending would be a major understatement. But I'm a long-time fan of Marissa Meyer's work, and I knew she would do Catherine's character proud.
Meyer told Queen Levana's -- from The Lunar Chronicles -- origin story in Fairest, but that lady was cuckoo before she even got started. Catherine, however, is a hopeful, somewhat naive girl whose optimism knows no limits, other than those that society would place upon her. And yet, with the possibility of all of her choices being taken from her, it's easy to see how she might become the Queen of Hearts we know and despise. I love that one of the hashtags for this story is #DefyDestiny because that's exactly what I was hoping Catherine would do as the story progressed. But if the King and her parents have their way, Cath's destiny is to wed the King and become the Queen of Hearts.
Even before she meets Jest, Cath has reservations about being queen. She just wants to open a bakery and marry someone she loves and lead a simple life. But Cath is the daughter of a Marquess and the kingdom expects far greater things from a lady. Much greater than falling for the Court Joker, for example. Jest is enigmatic and charasmatic, and the attraction between him and Catherine is undeniable. As undeniable as it is foolish, considering she's being courted by the King. To be honest, this scenario reminded me a lot of Evil Queen Regina's plight on Once Upon a Time: to be in love with a lowly servant-type fellow when her mother has much bigger plans for her future, namely to be Queen. And just as I found myself empathizing with Regina on the show, I feel much the same way toward Catherine and the obvious chemistry she has with Jest.
Much as the romance reminded me of OUAT, the story itself reminded me of every foray I've ever made into Wonderland. The whimsy, the dream-like quality, the unforgettable characters -- all are present and accounted for, and yet they are still undoubtedly Meyer's creations. I loved seeing how she tied certain aspects from the original tale into her story. Some instances had me fascinated, while others had me saying, "Oh, OH...I get it now!" It was uncanny how familiar this story felt again in such capable hands.
I must say, I've loved each and every word I've read of Marissa Meyer's, but I think Heartless is my new favorite story. Unlike in The Lunar Chronicles where the author took beloved characters and gave them new life in a new world, Heartless just felt like a fairy tale...not a reimagining like TLC but a continuation or precursor to an old favorite. I know that this is supposed to be a stand-alone, but Meyer's vivid descriptions and gorgeous words did nothing to satiate my longing for more Wonderland encounters. I already can't wait to get this one on audio, too, so I can experience the wonder of it all over again!
40 DAYS TILL HEARTLESS!
About the author:
Marissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband, twin daughters, and three cats. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, color-coordinating her bookshelf . . .), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was given a small book of them when she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg.
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