“Off with her head!” – The Queen of Hearts. What made this Queen so feared, ruthless & merciless? That was a question I didn’t ask myself until I got my hands on Heartless.
My only experience with retellings was with As Tell As Old As Time (Beauty and The Beast) and that wasn’t the best. So when I say I was hesitant to read about another one of my childhoods I mean I had this book for months on my shelf. To be completely honest, out of all the times I’ve watched Alice in Wonderland I never asked myself, “what is the Queen’s story?” Although I haven’t read a lot of retellings of classic tales, I love the idea of story that can go beyond a well known one and a story to fix plot holes. No one like a plot holer (yes, it’s a word because I just invented it).
Alice in Wonderland is a well known and beloved classic and one that I later learned is pretty dark for children. Yes, there’s a caterpillar smoking hookah in front of a child, a crazy guy drinking something that I’m sure isn’t tea with a rabbit, and a queen who likes to cut off heads, but we all watched it and turned out fine, right!
How can a story make a character that you grew up disliking likable and compassionate towards? Heartless is the story of the Queen of Hearts before she was the Queen.
Catherine Pinkerton is the daughter of a marquess and a marchioness. Her dream is to become a baker and open her own bake shop. However, her parents want nothing more than for her to marry the the King of Hearts and become Queen. Cath doesn’t want the royal title and at a ball she finds herself face to face with a joker, and someone she’s been dreaming of. The ball is suddenly disturbed when a creature attacks before the King can propose and she takes that time to flee the scene. In the forest she runs into the joker whose name is Jest and finds herself intrigued by him. It becomes more complicated when Jest is named the new court joker for the King. As if her life wasn’t complicated enough, she wants to becomes a baker which is unheard of for a woman of her statues but now she’s fallen in love with a joker who is working for her betrothed.
Although this book took me a lot longer than I care to admit, I enjoyed it! I found myself eager to see when another familiar will pop up and see if they were exactly like the classic or different. It was great seeing Cath BQ (Before Queen) as a driven and caring person, someone that had similar traits to Alice. That made the story more appealing because no matter what you knew how the story will end but getting there was just as intriguing. What made a woman who had goals and dreams become someone that was feared throughout the kingdom?
Cath is the main character of this story but Jest stole the spotlight when he was in a scene. He’s charm and flirtatious game made you root for this guy! I was totally googly eye when he would appear! His confidence and charm made him attractive but his big heart made him irresistible. Along with his mysterious story, I tried placing him with the characters I already knew. What role does his play when Alice was in Wonderland? It become a game of guessing that I have never experienced before and didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did.
Retelling a story to better understand the core of it can go really good or really bad. It could answer questions you had or didn’t even think that you had. But when done right it tells the story with you wanting a different ending knowing it’s meant to lead the story you’ve always known. That is awesome writing in my opinion! Heartless had love, mystery and action. Most important it added more depth to a beloved classic, although it has no correlation to Alice in Wonderland, I know I won’t be seeing that movie the same way again…in a good way! Marissa Meyer did an amazing and fantastic job in telling a story about someone you either wanted to know more about or didn’t think you needed to know. I recommend it to anyone who wish to know about someone who stepped first into the Looking Glass.