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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 unmarried King of Hearts, 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.

Then Cath 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.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published November 8, 2016

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About the author

Marissa Meyer

72 books123k followers
I live in Tacoma, Washington, with my husband and beautiful twin daughters. Represented by Jill Grinberg. Learn more about me and my upcoming books at http://www.marissameyer.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 29,930 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
November 1, 2016
“These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,” he said, vanishing up to his neck. “They happen only in nightmares.”
His head spiralled and he was gone.

This was so good. Meyer's writing and stories just seem to keep improving, and her latest foray into the world of Alice in Wonderland was exactly the right combination of prophecy, romance, Victorian-style female repression, and weirdness. It was unputdownable.

Also: I really really want macarons right now.

I mentioned this before, but I'm starting to understand why I enjoy Meyer's retellings so much. She gets the balance just right. Her fairy tales contain characters and references that make them instantly recognizable (the phrase "fairy tale retelling" isn't just thrown around as a marketing tool). Without having to be told, anyone could read this book and understand where it gets its inspiration. However, that's also just what it is - more inspiration than retelling.

This book can be enjoyed whether you like the original or not. It stands on its own with a full cast of strong characters, and its own unique plot that doesn't just feel like the same old story told with some modern slang thrown in. It's perfectly weird without being too weird (to be honest, the original gives me a fond nostalgic feeling, but it's a bit too nonsensical for me).

Heartless is about Catherine - daughter of a Marquess, talented baker, and likely future bride to the King of Hearts.
“You’re the daughter of a marquess. Look around. Look at the things you have, the life you’re accustomed to. You don’t know what it’s like to work every day so you can feed yourself and keep a roof over your head. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor. To be a servant.”

The story propels itself forward on feelings of anger and frustration. All Cath wants is to open a bakery and unleash her goodies on the world (just a warning - this is not a good book for dieters!), but the expectations placed upon her as a woman won't allow it. The stifling nature of this world is palpable and infuriating, making you turn the pages in angry desperation.

Not only does Cath not want to be a court lady, but her heart most definitely does not belong to the insipid King of Hearts. With a sexist society to raise your blood pressure and a forbidden love story to make your heart beat faster, just throw a murderous Jabberwock in and it's easy to see how the pages start to fly by. But if this seems a little tame to you after all the craziness of The Lunar Chronicles - have no fear! Madness and nastiness are just around the corner.

Meyer knows just how to tick all our boxes. Heartless is a nasty, evil book, but we also have the hilarious Cheshire, the sexy Joker, the yummy food, controlling parents, and strange riddles. The ending is perfect, but it makes me sad that this is just a standalone. Not that it feels unfinished... just that all great books leave us wanting more, you know?

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November 9, 2016
Cheshire’s yellow eyes slitted as he held her gaze for one beat, two. Then he began to unravel from the tip of his tail, a slow unwinding of his stripes. ‘These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,’ he said, vanishing up to his neck. ‘They happen only in nightmares.’

Honestly, I didn't have high expectations for this book after reading the "...she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love" blurb. Fortunately, I was wrong. This book was great. Don't get me wrong, it was unexpectedly dark at some points, but it was also adowwwable because only a stone cold dead dying heart can resist the absolutely wuvable talking Cheshire Cat. Seriously, he was so cute. And apparently I do not have a stone cold dead dying heart.

It was magical, and adorable, and I really can't pull out any big fancy words so describe it, because "magical and adorable" describes it so perfectly, and yet it wasn't sickening sweet. It was just right.

I have to admit, I have never read Alice in Wonderland in its entirety. I've watched the movies, of course, but they weren't particularly memorable to me, and so I think that's what contributed to much of this book's appeal. Talking animals and magic everywhere, yet so commonplace that it feels like home.

The beginning of this book surprised me with its frothiness. There is a lot of baking in this book, and the beginning was the equivalent of a strawberry cream puff, it was so lighthearted that the gradual darkening and the development of Catherine (she who is to be Queen of Hearts) almost sneaks up on you.
She stared at the girl in the mirror, the one who looked as though she had never known a smile. Even as she had the thought, her reflection’s lips curled upward, revealing a delirious grin beneath her sullen eyes.
I can't say that this was the best book I've ever read. I feel like this was a very long book, and it could have been condensed without losing much of its content, and Meyer's writing style, while readable, is neither memorable nor special. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.5k followers
March 29, 2017
UPDATE: I think...oh god...I think this book put me in a reading slump.
At a certain point, I really have to start blaming myself. Do I have no idea of my own interests? Because I truly thought this would end up on my all-time favorites shelf, my first add to an as-yet-nonexistent 2017 favorites list. Is that not a fair expectation? After all, Alice in Wonderland is my favorite book, Marissa Meyer one of my favorite authors. This came in the best Owlcrate subscription box of all time. The rating is high. What went wrong for this book?

Note: this review is also up on my blog at https://emmareadstoomuch.wordpress.co.... Okay, we continue!!

For starters, there’s not an ounce of Wonderland in this setting. Wonderland is a masterpiece, a marvel, a beautiful place where nothing makes sense and everyone is mad. This was just the Lunar Chronicles, with a shitty half-hearted attempt at a mid-nineteenth century twist and various direct quotes and concepts from Wonderland forced in.

This was an uncreative disappointment. Meyer takes her ideas from Carroll (“six impossible things before breakfast,” for example, is a recurring statement), from Edgar Allan Poe (a f*cking raven that randomly says “nevermore”? f*ck offffffff), from nursery rhymes (Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater receives shocking attention - to avoid spoilers I’ll just say its incorporation is unBEARABLY dumb). When Meyer is left to her own devices, the Wonderland-ness of it all is dropped entirely, only to be forced in through a name-drop of the Looking Glass or the “Tweedle twins” in a few pages.

This really was just an insult to the setting of Wonderland. The Caterpillar, the marvelous creature with his hookah, is a COBBLER. Why don’t you just hurt me physically, if you insist upon such emotional pain? There’s a street full of businesses, balls, a standard court system...It’s just the worst.

And I’ve decided I only want one thing from this world. (The real one, not Wonderland.) There is one difference I’d like to make, one change I need to instill, and I can die happy. This is about to get predominantly featured in my Goodreads bio, because that’s how important it is. And that goal?: STOP INCORPORATING THE JABBERWOCK AS A MONSTER INTO YOUR ALICE IN WONDERLAND RETELLINGS. I can’t even convey the sheer FURY this makes me experience. First Tim Burton, then Christina Henry, and now THIS? THE JABBERWOCK IS NOT A CHARACTER FROM WONDERLAND. THAT’S A POEM, YOU ABSOLUTE IMBECILES. When you make your Wonderland protagonist fight the Jabberwock, you’re spitting in the face of literature. Spitting. In. Its. Face. I am shaking with anger. It’s not even original anymore. It’s become cliché in addition to boring, stupid, and further Carroll-stealing. COME UP WITH YOUR OWN VILLAINS, YOU UNCREATIVE MISCREANTS.

I’ll force myself to move past the crimes against Wonderland that have been committed here and discuss the shortcomings of the story itself. For starters, it’s a trope. It’s a poor little rich girl story, a pretty teen member of the court throwing a tantrum over an arranged marriage. I just don’t care much about stories like this. Give me some stakes! Sure, she wants love, whatever, but like...can there be some risk to this boring plotline? Snore.

Plus there’s a surprise appearance from the worst romantic cliché of all time: the you’re not like other girls appeal, made famous by the manic pixie dream girl character archetype and everything written by John Green. I haven’t seen this piece of garbage in a while! A surprising amount of time, actually. But just when you’d think that all these old-ass weirdos writing books for us youths had finally caught onto something, here it shows up again. “You’re different from the other lords and ladies here. I’m sure that any other girl would have started throwing rocks at me if I showed up at her bedroom window.” As if their boring romance weren’t awful enough already!

Oh yeah, that’s another thing. This isn’t even a good love story, in my humble yet pretentiously delivered opinion. (Is it better if I’m aware of it?) Unless I’m misremembering or was in a relatively fragile emotional state for all four books + the novellas, the Lunar Chronicles series contained some stellar romancin’. (Get it? Stellar? Like, that series takes place partially in space? Okay, fine.) I didn’t get that here. As a reader, I felt like they met a couple of times and then I was suddenly supposed to buy them as a Titanic-level epic love story. Which I, like, didn’t. So.

And I didn’t even like either of the characters in the romance. Jest was super flat to me - is anyone else noticing a phenomenon in which an author makes a male love interest super physically attractive and mildly funny and then just dusts off their hands and says, have at ’em, fangirls? Like, it’s a little more complicated than that. Jest was a total snooze for me. Which is better than Cath, I s’pose, because that gal was on my last nerve for 90% of this book. (I guess I have durable nerves?) Is it weird to say I hate the way her mind works? I was sick of being stuck inside her cyclical, repetitive complaining. Plus she makes dumb choices, and goes from as cavity-inducingly-sweet as the in-depth descriptions of her pastries to having a legit anger management issue in a hot second.

Yes, the whole point of this book was to provide a backstory for the Queen of Hearts, letting the reader in on what happened to change her from ~normal chick~ (albeit not like other girls, lol) to total villain. And in some ways that happened? Those ways being that we were given a plotline. But the emotions changed in one massive leap. (Like the definition of bipolar disorder so misleadingly given in When We Collided!)

On a sidenote, can someone tell me what “Her cheek fluttered” means? Because that’s a line from this book. One that made me, alone in my room, go What?

But this book was also just boring. It never grabbed me. Maybe that’s because I found both the setting and the characters lacking. It honestly could be my fault. But heaped upon all these other problems I had, I didn’t even get to have a good time while reading this. It just felt sooooo long.

In terms of positives, I liked that Jest wore eyeliner. More of that in male love interests, please. #EveryoneWearEyeliner2k17

Bottom line: This was another instance of Meyer giving a villain a meh backstory through the loss of love, but this one’s problems hit me closer to home. If you don’t worship at the altar of Alice as much as I do, you may be able to get past some of its flaws...but this was one of the most massive disappointments I’ve been hit with in a while.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,951 followers
November 27, 2017
Kindle US $2.99 today 11-27-17



Lets freaking do this party people!!! Yasssss!!! Woot!!!

This made it to my favorites lists! And just look at the gorgeous cover!


I was lucky enough to get a magnetic bookmark and a recipe! ♥


This is one of the best, if not the best, retelling of Wonderland I have ever read! Although, I don't think I have ever read a prequel to the Alice story but Marissa Meyer pulled this one off brilliantly. In my opinion anyway.

I am in love with Jest!

I love all of the characters, even the evil characters are written beautifully! I am just in love with this book and oh the name "Heartless" had meaning on so many levels. You will find out when you read it.

All Cath wants in life is to have her own bakery with her best friend. But that is not to be, she can't do something as lowly as that, her parents want her to marry the King of Hearts. Sigh, Cath doesn't want to marry him, he's just, no . . . no . . . no . . . if she were to ever get married it would be someone she chose and fell in love with and she could bake and make the most wonderful tarts and pies in the world. She already does in their part of the world anyway.

Then Cath meets the wonderful Jest and has to figure out how she can love him and do what her parents and the King want at the same time. <--- Not a spoiler, it's pretty much in the blurb.

There are wonderful creatures in the book as there always is in Wonderland. Rocking-horse flies, with are really little rocking horse flies that are really horses and they fly (lol). Talking candles, animals, and everything else in between. We have Hatta who makes the brilliant hats of course, we have rabbit and the jabberwock and things and stuff and what not. It is just filled with great things.

But not all things in fairy tales have a happily ever after. It's very sad and I hated it but it put a new insight on things to come. Even so, I still loved the book so much! ♥



and thus it begins . . .

I hope a lot of people will love this book as much as I did ♥

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
February 10, 2017
Review/discussion: https://youtu.be/YSd8MDc98_0

Reread January 2017
Bumped rating up to 5 stars.
I decided to reread this in a 24 hour period because I want to write a paper on it (which is of course due in a couple of days). I loved it even more the second time around!

Original reading October 2016
I loved this, but I did have a couple of issues. I was sent the audiobook to review (and do a giveaway on my channel soon!) from Macmillan so a big thank you to them! My video review will be up soon but for now, my 2 main points are: this did a great job of capturing the atmosphere of the original Alice stories, but it was lacking in the fact that it was a bit slow. The plot could have been refined a tad. But I highly recommend the audiobook. It is so so good!
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,311 followers
February 10, 2017

❝Now mine eyes see the heart that once we did search for, and I fear this heart shall be mended, nevermore.❞

A big thanks to Macmillan and Fierce Reads for giving me the opportunity to snag a beautiful box and ARC of Heartless at YallWest!

(Review will be posted once we are closer to release day)

Heartless was beautifully tragic. I have no words to describe just how broken this book has left my heart.

That ending... Ugh. HEARTBREAKING.

Beware. You might have a new favorite coming soon. ;)
Profile Image for Natalie.
567 reviews3,196 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 28, 2016

This review contains *spoilers* for the first half of this book.

Heartless is an epic retelling of Alice in Wonderland, with the focus being on The Queen of Hearts.

All Catherine wants is to be declared the office tart baker of the kingdom. She and her best friend, Mary Ann, dream of launching their very own bakery. Even their friendship hit it off upon discovering one another's mutual love for food:

“One wouldn’t know it to look at Mary Ann, but she had an appetite to rival Cath’s own. They’d bonded over their love of food years ago, not long after Mary Ann had been hired on as a household maid.”

Their solidarity kind of reminded me of the one Anna Bates and Mary Crawley (from Downton Abbey) had in the later seasons—aka my favorite one on the show.
But according to her mother, the Marchioness, “going into the men’s world of business” is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen, especially with a humble servant - Mary Ann - as her partner.

“But she and Mary Ann had been dreaming of it for so long, she sometimes forgot that it wasn’t yet reality.”

Meanwhile, at the royal ball His Congenial Kingness has chosen a bride, and Cath is thrown for the loop. The King of Hearts was about to propose to her in front of the whole crowd, but the idea of marrying him seemed preposterous to her.

“She would be queen, and queens . . . queens did not open bakeries with their best friends. Queens did not gossip with half-invisible cats. Queens did not have dreams of yellow-eyed boys and wake up with lemon trees over their beds.”

Thankfully, before he could finish his proposal, Cheshire steals the show at Catherine’s request, so that she can vanish unnoticed through the rose gardens. On her way out, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker with a rhyming Raven.
And Jest also turns out to be the boy from her dreams… literally.

Cath had met a hazy, beautiful boy in her dream with eyes “bright like lemons ready to fall from a tree.” And so she informs this stranger that she'd had a dream about them, which the courage to tell a handsome someone you had a dream about them… can’t relate.

“‘So?’ he prodded.
She blinked. ‘So what?’
‘Was it a good dream?’
‘Oh.’ Her lips puckered in thought, but then she realized he was teasing her. She scowled. ‘To be frank, I found it rather dull.’
‘Ah, but you can’t be Frank. You’ve already told me that your name is Catherine.’
‘I’ve changed it.’”

A man after my heart. His humor was right up my alley.
Also, Jest giving her a piece of chocolate made my heart warm—“I was saving this for later, and so I must have been saving it for you.”
Marissa Meyer sure knows how to make me fall quickly for someone.
It's truly been awhile since I've welcomed a book-romance with open arms. And I'm glad Jest, with his quick smiles and witty remarks, was the one I was waiting for.

Plus, when Jest stole her away for a midnight rendezvous - aka a tea party with the Mad Hatter - happiness coursed to the ends of my limbs. In that shared single night, one fun night, she finds out that:

• He was from Chess.
• He was on a mission that could end a war.
• He was the protector of a queen.
• Impossible is his speciality.

I was anticipating every little encounter they had.

But then...
I don't know what happened, but my heart just wasn't in it anymore. I gradually started losing intrest in the characters and their arcs. I think I just need to take a break from fantasy for awhile and then eventually come back so I don't feel like I'm forcing myself to read my most anticipated read of the year.

Marissa Meyer is one of the most talented writers, and I'm really hoping that when I pick this book up again, I'll enjoy it more than I can now.

DNF @ p.232 (My heart is breaking just by writing this.)

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

no rating for now.

*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Heartless, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!*

This review and more can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
595 reviews3,588 followers
April 29, 2017
4.5 stars

“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”

Slow clap for Marissa Meyer for another amazing fairy tale retelling. Looking at the blurb, it's hard to imagine Catherine, who just wanted to open a bakery and fall in love, would ever become the short-tempered, unpredictable Queen of Hearts we all know.

The transformation is incredibly well-done. You know it's coming, that there isn't a happily ever after, but that shit-hits-the-fan moment still gets you in the gut.

Meyer mentioned in an interview that she wanted fans to be able to jump straight to Lewis Carroll's work straight after reading Heartless and I can assure you the lady knows what she's doing. The Wonderland setting is wonderfully mad and whimsical, as it should be. It flows seamlessly with the narrative without any huge info-dumps.

The dialogue is just beautiful—and Wonderland-worthy.

"You've had me mesmerized from the first moment I saw you in that red dress, and I don't know what to do about it, other than use every skill at my disposal to try and mesmerize you back."

Old characters, like the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat, appear with extra additions of Meyer's own invention. We even get a peek at Carroll's "sequel."

“I heard the most delightful tale at the party today,” he said, dabbing his napkin at the corner of his moustache, “about a little girl who discovered an upward-falling rabbit hole just off the Crossroads, and when she started to climb, her body fell up and up—“

Yes, like the blurb promises, it is rather romance-centric. But what did you expect from an origin story of the Queen of Hearts? There are certain tropes, such as Jest's dark secret that adversely affects their relationship or the semi-love triangle, but Meyer has a way of making them forgivable.

Catherine's decisions, silly and reckless as they may be sometimes, are presented in a relatable manner. They're teenagers, and teenagers make mistakes. I did all kinds of stupid shit when I was sixteen. Heartless makes you remember that feeling; it's hard to judge them too harshly.

One teeny thing did bother me (Other than the mixing-up of "lose"and "loose"in that gif):

But overall, it was magnificent. Magic. Madness. Heaven. Sin.

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
April 9, 2021

Seven of my favorite Bookish Villains in one BookTube Video!
Onwards to the written review!

Why is a raven like a writing-desk?
Catherine of Wonderland - the famed Evil Queen - but she was not always the maddeningly cruel creature who ruled the land with an iron fist.

Once...once the Evil Queen was a young girl with a pure heart, a bakery dream and far too many marriage proposals for her liking.
The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.
Cath has always dreamed of opening her own bakery with her best friend, but her parents had different plans.

All they can see is different ways to set Cath up with the most eligible bachelor in all the lands - the King.

But...the King is not Cath's type. He's old, he's silly, he's bumbling, she could go on.

And then one day, the new court Joker arrives to town. Jest (the Joker) is unusual to the extreme and yet, there's something about him that she cannot put her finger on.
Impossible is my specialty.
She's drawn to the Joker (much to her mother's horror).

But even her blossoming feelings must be put on hold once the true horrors of Wonderland are unleashed...
It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.
So, reading the reviews for this one has made me realize that folks are VERY polarizing on it - it truly seems like a LOVE or HATE book.

Personally, I quite enjoyed it (which was quite a surprise)!

Going into Heartless, I thought I was NOT going to enjoy it all. I'm not the biggest fan of the original Alice in Wonderland tales.

I read them when I was older and ultimately felt more frustration than enjoyment when I read the books. So, I know the outline of what happens but I don't remember the details.

I loved the way Marissa Meyer balanced the madness with the magic. I feel like with such a nonsensical world to begin with, that it is quite easy to just jump off the deep end.

Meyer did a fabulous job with reining in the the wildness while keeping a nod to the impossibility of Wonderland.

I also loved watching the characters from the original story weave in and out, with their updated interpretations.

So, personally, this book was a win for me...but if you are a hardcore fan of the originals, I can see how it might not be what you are hoping for.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Isabelle Reneé Reads.
143 reviews298 followers
December 18, 2022
“One to be a murderer. One to be a martyr. One to be a monarch. One to go mad.”

In my entire life, only six books have made me cry.
When I started this book, I thought it would hurt. I thought it be would be painful. I thought it would break me.

I was wrong.
It completely shattered me.

I didn’t want this book to end. I wanted those desperate, desperate characters to have a chance. A chance to feel happiness, to feel love, to break the thousands of expectations chaining them.

I wanted them to be mostly all right, if only for a moment.

“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 unmarried King of Hearts, 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.

Then Cath 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.”

Many times, books show us hope. Hope that the good guys will win, that the bad guys will be defeated, that the lovers end up together, that everyone gets their forever happily-ever-after.
But if everyone got a happy ending, it wouldn’t be so sighed over and sought after. Because for everyone with a happy ending, someone else will never make it.

What made this story even more soulcrushing was that Cath and Jest and Hatta and Raven almost made it. They almost leveled the odds. They almost beat their fates and lived their own lives.
They were so agonizingly close.

Which then begs the question: could any of their fates have been avoided?

Cath made decisions. Cath's parents put enormous pressure on Cath and ignored all of her own dreams and ambitions. Mary Anne made other decisions. The king disregarded everyone’s real feelings and opinions for the sake of keeping the peace. Peter Peter chose anger over grief.
They all made choices, so maybe it was all of their faults. Maybe they were all doomed from the start. Could they ever have beat the odds and changed the ending of their story? No matter how much we run and change, will our fates always be self-fulfilling prophecies?

Lady Catherine Pinkerton. Cath for short.
I can see a lot of myself in Cath. Someone that hates disappointing people. Someone that wants to make their parents happy with everything she does. Someone who often feels afraid. A lot of people might blame Cath for her choices, but she did what many of us would, try as we might to convince ourselves we’d do it differently. Cath wasn’t necessarily the most courageous of heroines, but she was a true one.

The Joker. His real name is Jest.
My heart broke a little every time I saw him longing for Cath, risking his life for her, giving everything up so they could have a chance at a future together. I sobbed literally every time he was on the page because he was so kind and sweet and whimsical and I knew it wasn’t going to end well.
The day after I finished the book, I saw the words jest and fool in my school reading and almost started crying again.

Raven. Inspired by “The Raven” poem by Edgar Allen Poe.
He had his fate too. He could only mourn. He could never save, he could only end.

The Mad Hatter. His real name is Hatta.
He wanted to escape the madness that had plagued his family for generations. He tried to change. He tried to escape, constantly moving the opposite direction of Time.
In the end though, he didn’t make it either.
Time caught up with Hatta, and he became known as the Mad Hatter.

Of all four, not one escaped their fate.

See, this is a villain origin story. That entire book, I knew what the ending would be. I knew my sweet little innocent Cath would have her heart broken. I knew that her pain would turn her into a wicked shell of what she had been. I knew that to become Queen, she’d need to marry the King of Hearts. I knew her and Jest could never end happily, as much as they believed they could.

I knew every single part of it.

And yet, when that book ended, my heart was still shattered into a thousand bleeding pieces.

How is a raven like a writing desk?

There are thousands of answers.
Know that they’ll all lead to the same thing in the end.

Star Rating: ★★★★★
If This Book Was a Movie Rating: PG-13

Recommendations If You Liked This Book:
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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
851 reviews3,880 followers
February 15, 2021

With all due respect to the hatter, I am so mad, that's not even funny. That's what being trolled by a novel feels like, I guess. Above that, I am so, so disappointed. Indeed, it's no secret that my reading time has been seriously reduced over the previous months, making me wonder if I should stay on GR, because what's the point?! Heartless, though? It sounded so amazing that I made room for it, school and politics be damned. I wish I would have loved it, but apparently it wasn't meant to be. Sigh.

Me : You don't get to be so addictive for 40% and crumble into nothing, you fucking book!
Me : Or I guess you do, but then I'll go all "Off with its head!" and we wouldn't want that.
Book : i don't give a daaaaaaamn OFF WITH ITS HEAD! OFF WITH ITS HEAD! OFF WITH ITS HEAD! *shatters to pieces*
Me : *watching the confetti, stunned into silence*

HA. This is incredibly hard for me to explain because I was very, very, VERY lenient during the first 40%. (What? It happens!)

It went like this :

I already knew how it would end? No problem, sometimes it's the journey that counts, right?

Both Jest and Cath suffered from a serious case of instalove? Oh well, I like them enough. Let's forget that.

The writing was decent at best? What, at least it's addictive. The stories and characters are what matter to me anyway, okay?


And unfortunately, I genuinely believe that the lack of depth of both the writing and the plot doomed the novel in the end. Even with a fantastic premise, Heartless couldn't hold my interest after the first half, mostly because its characters started to ... fade away.

Where was the unapologetic and sarcastic Joker I enjoyed so much in the beginning? Where did the funny and interesting Cath hide when I had to suffer from countless descriptions of how dumb that fucking King is (but with whom she's gonna stay anyway - because of REASONS)? The character's growth was all over the place and if I completely understand that we humans do go round and round in circles sometimes, it didn't feel genuine here and the ropes were so thick I could touch them.

Also, WHERE WAS CHESHIRE? Damn, I missed that cat in the second half.

The fact is, we already knew the end, so it was not a matter of WHAT but a matter of HOW. Too bad the HOW consisted in throwing some unnecessary and predictable drama in the pumpkin cake. (See? I don't even make sense anymore).

Where was the thrill, the tension, when the characters' decisions started to stop making sense to go through the predictable road? For me, Heartless ended restrained because of Alice in Wonderland, and that made for the most illogical and sudden events. It's like the author suddenly remembered that she couldn't do what she wanted, and needed to get her characters where they ought to be ASAP.

What about my emotions?? No, really? Given what happens, I should have cared. Key word being should, because I sure didn't. I kinda laughed, because I'm a psycho??!

Where was the world-building, when everything seemed stolen and rearranged to suit the forbidden love arc? We get tons of Wonderland - and I mean TONS, so much that we guess many plot points because of it - but also a little Regency thrown in the mix, because ARRANGED MARRIAGE! WE NEED IT! Bleh. Of course I understand that a retelling borrows stuff to the original, I mean, that's the whole point. Yet when it only makes me want to reread the original instead, it's not a good thing in my opinion. Especially when I don't even like the original that much (too weird, even for me *hides*).

► Truth is, in the end, Heartless isn't a bad book, but lacks subtlety and layers, like a pretty, nice, empty shell.

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Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
June 5, 2018
”It had been a hazy, beautiful dream, and in it there had been a hazy, beautiful boy. He was dressed all in black and standing in an orchard of lemon trees, and she had the distinct sensation that he had something that belonged to her. She didn’t know what it was, only that she wanted it back, but every time she took a step towards him he receded further and further away.”

And so it begins! The transformation of Lady Catherine Pinkerton of Turtle Rock Cove into the Queen of Hearts! When I started to read the book I was really surprised how nice and relatable she was and even halfway through “Heartless” I still kept wondering how she’d ever be able to turn into the Queen of Hearts.

Well, she obviously was able to, but I wasn’t really happy with the transformation. Which is the reason I’m very conflicted about this book. *lol* On the one hand it had two of the best character introduction scenes I’ve ever read and I’m still in awe of the atmosphere Marissa Meyer created, but on the other hand the ending and everything that happened over those last 50 pages felt more than just a little rushed.

"But the rose felt like a whispered message, a hushed glance across a crowded room. Something precious and not to be shared."

I mean the love story is building up and even though it’s still kinda insta-lovey I decided that this time around it’s okay for me. After all, the entire book is a standalone and there’s only so much you can pack into a single book. And seriously if you ever meet Jest, you’ll fall head over heels for him too. ;-P I mean how could you not? He’s cute and charming, intriguing and bold, but also shy and very handsome. I swear his golden eyes and black curls immediately caused me to think of another awesome character I hold close to my heart and yes I was a goner the instant he entered the scene!

”A laugh like that is richer than gold to a man in my position. I’ll make it my life’s work to hear the sound again. Every day, if it pleases you. No – twice a day, and at least once before breakfast. A royal joker must set the highest of expectations.”

As for the other characters: I really liked Raven (Haha no surprise there!!!) and I thought Catherine and Mary Ann were really sweet! Their wish to open a bakery resonated with me (Yes, I love to bake too. Especially cupcakes and huge cakes) and I swear I got hungry whenever I picked up the book. Their thoughts about the perfect macarons and pies and whatever else they wanted to bake had me drooling all over the place and if you’ve a sweet tooth like me you can actually consider this to be a trigger warning. *LOL* I bet I gained a few pounds just reading this book. XD

Anyway, enough of sweets or I’ll have to pillage my “chocolate drawer” again! ;-P Let’s continue to talk about the other characters of this book. Like for instance the King of Hearts! Boy was he a little, giggly and incompetent man! I mean nothing wrong with being funny, but the way he acted he seemed to be the only true Fool in the game. >_<

”I can’t compete with a king, and I won’t compete with the man who’s given me employment, who’s offered me a place in his court when he had no need to. I don’t mean to make your choice more difficult than it already is. He’s a good man. I believe he would do his best to be a good husband.”

I understand why Jest didn’t want to go behind his back but I’m also convinced that Cath should have been honest with the King. If she would have been honest and forthright right from the beginning, nothing bad would have happened. Yes, it’s hard to refuse a king but it’s even harder to live with a lie. I know her parents made it exceptionally difficult to stay true to herself and I felt this on a spiritual level, but when it comes to matters of the heart there always comes a moment when you have to draw the line. If you ask me, Cath missed that point and that’s why things had to end the way they did. *sighs*

”I have a personal rule about not entering into business with spineless creatures. No snakes. No slippery eels. And worst of all, no fickle women. Play coy all you like, Lady Pinkerton. Cling to your belief in your own innocence. You know as well as I that you’re going to break at least one heart before this is over, and I want nothing more to do with you.”

Those were harsh words, but I think Lady Catherine had to hear them. Oh Hatta! I loved him so much! I know some of you will say: ”WHAT?!” now and I don’t blame you for it. He was more than just unfriendly to Cath throughout the entire book and there were moments even I wondered why he was so mean, but then at the end it all made sense.

All this hostility towards Lady Pinkerton, the loyalty he felt for Jest! It was so sad to watch the story unfold and to know that Hatta eventually would become mad. The way it finally happened broke my heart though. I definitely didn’t expect it to work out like that!! >_<

”She is a rose, Jest. Lovely on the eyes, yes, but such thorns are not to be ignored. She belongs in a King’s garden, not yours.”

And if we’re already talking about weird and crazy things: Those three sisters of the well were so damn creepy! *lol* Am I the only one that instantly thought of Samara from “The Ring”?! Haha!
I swear Lacie, Tillie and Elsie were so damn scary!!! (Despite their rather harmless sounding names. XD)

So yeah, all told I really enjoyed the book, but the ending… Well, let’s just say I’m not happy with it. All this build up and then things were resolved so fast and I was blinking at the page thinking: WTH?! Are you kidding me? This is how it all goes down?! This is it?!

I really wish I could give “Heartless” four stars. Jest and Hatta would deserve it, but those last 50 pages ruined it so much that I can’t give it more than 3 stars. It just wouldn’t feel right to give it four. *sighs* Still, I enjoyed the book and I can recommend it, just don’t expect all too much when it comes to the final reason and revelation! I guess then you should be safe! ;-)
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
November 4, 2020
i picked this up because i had seen a fair amount of reviews telling me this was a book that would make me sob and ive been wanting to feel emotionally invested in a story lately. but i must be as heartless as the title implies because this didnt even make me sad.

and i think it has to do with the pacing, because the characters are fine. i think i could have been more engaged with cath and jest if there was a better flow to their story. its extremely drawn out and slow with very few interactions. its a lot of internal reflection done by cath. and then when things start to get interesting in the last 70 pages, its very rushed. it makes caths change in character feel like a quick flip of a switch, when in reality it should be more gradual and have depth.

plus, the moment that is supposed to break your heart is literally only a sentence or two long. its done and over in a blink of an eye. i have no idea how its supposed to make anyone feel anything.

for a prequel reimagining, this is okay. i like the creative liberties MM took with it and made the story her own. but i think i just had too high of expectations for this.

3 stars
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
March 26, 2018
Heartless blew me away. If you've been following my reviews for a while, you will know that I wasn't the biggest fan of The Lunar Chronicles. Yes, I know, I can barely believe it either. So, I went into this book not expecting much, and maybe that helped, because this book blew me away. It surpassed every expectation I set for a five star book, and it was nothing short of perfection.

Also, regarding The Lunar Chronicles, Fairest was my favorite installment in that series, and the book I gave the highest rating. So, maybe I just really enjoy "villain" retellings? I think both Fairest and Heartless just speak to my tragic love-story masochist heart or something along those lines.

“Two Rooks, a Pawn, and a Queen. That’s how the riddle begins, but howsoever shall it end?”

Anyway, Heartless is a Alice in Wonderland retelling, that stars the Queen of Hearts before she was the Queen of Hearts. We have grown up reading about the evil queen and the evil things that she has done, but we never knew why she was the way she was. Well, bless Marissa Meyer for creating this heartfelt masterpiece, because she did just that.

The Queen of Hearts, known as Catherine in this story, was once not evil at all. In fact, she was quite the opposite and had dreams of opening up her own bakery, because she is the best baker in all of Hearts, and loves nothing more than to make people happy with her treats.

That is, until Catherine realizes that her parents expect her to marry the King of Hearts, and give up her dreams, that they deem unworthy, completely.

“If I am not to have happiness, let me at least have a purpose. Let me give you the heart of a queen.”

I believe this is the main moral of this story, and what made this story resonate so much inside of me: You shouldn't live your life for anyone's expectations of you. Not your family, not your partner, not your friends, no one but yourself. No matter if we are in Wonderland or in our world, we are only allotted a certain amount of time, so spend your time doing what you love and what your heart tells you to do. I know I sound preachy, and I know this seems like a basic concept, but this is something I've struggled with my whole life and I know there are others out there that do too.

“Sometimes your heart is the only thing worth listening to.”

The Queen of Hearts isn't the only origin story for this book; we also learn a great deal about the Mad Hatter, and what was the final straw to make him truly mad. This plot reveal/twist was probably my favorite thing of this entire book, and it, along with Catherine's madness, made so much sense to me. Hatta's confession rebroke my heart all over again, honestly.

I knew how this story would end, obviously, but that didn't prepare me for how obsessed I would become trying to learn how we'd get to that ending. I kept trying to figure it out, and even though I guessed "the who", I never guessed "the how". I'm a terrible sucker for prophecy stories, but even reading the prophecy itself didn't prepare me for what actually happened. I felt gutted, heartbroken, and was completely unprepared.

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

When I was a young girl, I would spend countless hours on my Grandparent's property, in all their different gardens, playing Alice in Wonderland with my Grandma. Alice in Wonderland started my obsession with finding "magical doorways" and, to this day, I still love reading about them. I also feel like a major reason I enjoyed this book is because it made me feel a lot of nostalgia to the point that I actually want to reread and rewatch different Alice in Wonderland adaptations. I am so blessed and thankful for those memories with my Grandma, and all the feelings attached to those memories. Those feelings really made me enjoy the reading experience even more, even though I know it made me a little biased.

This book was the perfect amount of magical, beautiful and heartbreaking. It is written so lyrically, I feel like I highlighted half of the book. I loved it, and I love that it surprised me by loving it. I also love that it is a standalone. This is such a fantastic read, and I really can't recommend it enough, especially if you are like me and didn't love The Lunar Chronicles.

“Off with his head.”

Also, now I'm just being overly emotional and tearing up, because I just noticed that the naked back cover has a joker hat. Before, I only noticed the front had the queen's crown. Please, my heart. This story will haunt me for some time, and I will never read Alice in Wonderland the same way.

“Over everything, I choose you.”

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Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,232 followers
June 29, 2018
Arrrgggh... I can feel the knives being sharpened. *gulp*

So, can we talk about this book first before you send the knife my way?

Heartless is an imagined prequel to Alice in Wonderland but with its main focus being the "Queen of Hearts", she of the famous "Off with their heads" quote.

 photo 26926e15-1b5c-426b-8489-6b0e19db04fa_zpslsykouv3.png

Alice in Wonderland is a fantastical story written in 1865 by Lewis Carrol, who created the glorious dystopian world of Wonderland replete with a talking cheshire cat, a bumbling rabbit, knaves, Jabberwocks and much more. I truly liked and enjoyed Alice in Wonderland; the book and the movie.

As this is my first Meyer book, I went into this with zero bias but with an expectation of getting, at the least, a fabulous intro to this best-selling author's work and at most, a thrilling account of the QOH's descent into madness. And yes, there is a good reason. A very tragic one, in fact.

So, who was the QOH? The book blurb -below- does a spiffing job of summarizing the story perfectly. Emphasis by me.

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 unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend.....

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker.......... 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.

Let's talk about the parts that were underlined.


Two. Desired by whom?

Three. Gosh, I'd never wanted a pie so badly. So, yes, mad props to Catherine for her baking skills.

Four. Jest. The mysterious Joker who mesmerizes Cath, both with his talent and his beauty.

Meyer had taken enough literary liberties with this story and could have done so much more with Jest. So much more. Their love was supposedly forbidden therefore I expected frothing emotions and escalating tensions. I wanted to feel that heart-pounding despair evoked by young and desperate lovers who could not exist without the other.

Had Meyer not spent more time invoking the spirit of the original AIW, had she not included any and every character from that book, Jest and Catherine may have had more time together building their longing for each other. Between the croquet matches; the uninteresting balls; Catherine's never-will-happen dream of opening a bakery; and the detailed descriptions of the aforementioned endless list of creatures; these two had less than 5 intimate moments. 5! In a book with 450+ pages!

Of the 450+pages, nearly 360 pages were nothing more than a retelling of the original AIW, the story only picks up momentum at the 80% mark but by which point,

And thus, we finally are gifted with the whys of her apparent madness. Ultimately, Meyer does serve up a plausible accounting of the Queen's descent into madness, but like I said, during the entire journey to that conclusion:

Profile Image for jenna ♡ (fullybooked).
154 reviews79 followers
April 5, 2022
I wish I could unread this because it hurts 💔

♠♥♣♦“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”♠♥♣♦

This was a whimsical and beautifully written love story; one of the best retellings I’ve read that perfectly encapsulated Wonderland and so many of Lewis Carroll’s quirky characters.✨

I think it’s important to go into this one not expecting the most fleshed-out plot and depth in certain characters. It’s purely a re-imagining of how the Queen of Hearts could possibly have become the cruel and heartless tyrant that we all know her to be, and is done so magically (imho) - bringing together some common tropes of YA fantasy in a setting that is so beloved by many readers.

Although an aspect that I would normally find quite arbitrary, I really enjoyed all the baking included in this story as well! It added an extra layer to Cath that warmed her up - her passion and determination for an activity she wanted to pursue as a career was extremely relatable.

I’m also a mega sweet-tooth and some of Cath’s decadent desserts had me drooling. 🍰🍬🧁🍭 It was nice to offset some of the impending doom with descriptions of macarons, pumpkin cakes, and lemon tarts.

I don’t believe I’m alone when I say that I wish this could have been more than 1 book, but I also think it was just the perfect amount of heartwarming romance and soul-shattering heartbreak wrapped up in a single instalment - anymore and I would have required professional assistance to recover 😌
Profile Image for Simona B.
898 reviews3,009 followers
November 21, 2016

"She would not allow fate to trick her out of this dream."

I almost didn't read this. I thought, Oh well, another retelling. It can wait. I've got more promising things to read at the moment. But when I saw how stunning this hardback was, the shallower half of me immediately decided she had to read it like yesterday.
Have I mentioned how much I love Shallow-Me?

•First of all, I think Marissa Meyer showed great wisdom in the choice of the story. Retelling the Queen of Hearts gave her the possibility to create something that was close enough to The Lunar Chronicles to please her historical fans, and different enough to let them see that the two things are unmistakably not alike. Heartless is darker, gloomier, and far, far sadder than any book of The Lunar Chronicles ever was, and, as much as I adore The Lunar Chronicles, I daresay this pinch of sorrow is precisely what made me fall, fall and fall for Catherine's story.

•The true strong suit of the novel, if you ask me, is Catherine's change throughout it. I am not even sure I can properly call it "development", given the positive connotation this word usually comes with, but our heroine does grow, in a broad sense: she gets stronger, tougher, less pliant, more tenacious. Hers is a growth that goes in so many directions that it becomes impossible not only to label it simply as a descent into madness, but also to determine which parts of it can be considered an improvement and which cannot. Catherine's character expands while shrinking, learns to stand her ground while letting go, opens her eyes in the very same moment when what her world requires of her is to shut them as tight as she can. She's contradictory, ensnared, caught in the crossfire, and she has no one to blame for it.
Or rather, she has herself.
But she is tender, she is delicate; she cannot live with such a guilt. And that's where her torment stems from in the first place.
You wouldn't believe the transformation she undergoes from the beginning of the book to its end, truly. But in this, she never changes. She never learns to shoulder this particular responsibility, and she keeps finding ways around it. She wants, wants, wants so desperately, but ultimately she chooses daydream over reality. She hopes, hopes, hopes, but never finds it in herself to act. Even revenge, for her, is a way to lay the blame elsewhere and relieve herself of it, so that she can pretend to be fine after all. She never faces what happened, not really. She chases this illusion until the very end, in her decision of .
A heroine would have fought.
But Catherine is no heroine.

"Mind my words, Cheshire, I will have you banished from this kingdom if you tempt me."
"An empty threat from an empty girl."
She rounded on him, teeth flashing. "I am not empty. I am full to the brim with murder and revenge. I am overflowing and I do not think you wish for me to overflow on to you."
"There was a time" – Cheshire yawned – "when you overflowed with whimsy and icing sugar. I liked that Catherine better."

I absolutely, utterly, completely adore her. And her character development, above all. I may be biased because cold, heartless, ruthless female leads automatically mean I'm sold. Even if they show up only for the last five chapters or so.

Cath's relationship with her parents is heart-rending. Every single time they talked to her, a part of me screamed and died in agony. Their last encounter brought real tears to my eyes. Not being listened to, not being truly considered by the two people who should be the most supportive and caring for you, that's a torture I wouldn't wish on the worst of my enemies. The Marquess and the Marchioness are probably the main reason why my very soul was in agony throughout the whole book.

•On the other hand, there are a couple of flaws I couldn't help noticing (and forgetting, apparently. I was too caught up to take notes). I remember thinking that Cath's bitterness, after , seemed somewhat too sudden, and that it didn't seem to bode well for the character development, but as you can guess, my fears were unfounded, though the episode was indeed handled rather awkwardly, narratively speaking -she's like rainbow and sunshine one scene and storm and thunder the next. So, when you get there, don't panic: it's all but short-lived.

•Another moment I would have written differently is when she . Again, it was kind of rushed and, I think, not very sensible, and that's probably the part of the book I like the least, but not so much that I couldn't turn a blind eye and keep enjoying the rest.

•I'm not sure I fully grasped the meaning of the fact that . I feel like I understand it on a subconscious level while not being able to put it in words. I think I'll stick to this explanation.

•I am just now realizing that I haven't mentioned the romance yet. Jest is an adorable love interest, and the ship sailed in no time, but the point is, the romance in itself is not the point. What actually is important is what this first love story means to Cath and how it would affect her life. This is why I wouldn't call Jest a male lead: the only lead, here, is Catherine. And I'm particularly happy with this.

➽ I did not expect to enjoy Heartless as much as I did. I did not expect to warm up so much to this girl in the habit of dreaming too much, for whom hoping is an illness, for whom burying her hands in a ball of dough is the ultimate happiness. I warmed up to her so much my heart had got as cold as hers as the conclusion drew near, and by the end of it, it didn't even seem to be beating anymore.
I wonder if I will ever be able to claim it back.
Profile Image for elena ❀.
304 reviews3,165 followers
April 3, 2021
They were all a little mad, if one was to be forthright.


Okay so, it's a big surprise I enjoyed this. I knew I would simply because it's Marissa Meyer and she did not disappoint me with her Lunar Chronicles series, so I knew this would happen. Marissa is the only author that is able to write novels that captivate me from the very first sentence. To be honest, I dislike retellings a lot. I won't say I hate them, but we aren't very good friends. Every retelling I read (or try to read) ends up unfinished or rated lowly. Marissa Meyer had me intrigued since the very beginning and I couldn't be happier. Heartless was happy and cute, but it was also heartbreaking and now I am heartless? I would say that's the word since I don't even know what my hearts for now.

Heartless is a well-done and well-written retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I've also never been the biggest fan of Alice in Wonderland, so I was a little afraid going into this one when Sana asked me if I wanted to BR it with her. I said yes because I kinda thought she and I would think the same about it and well, I was glad, and I couldn't be happier of us Sana. Our buddy read finally worked! The Queen of Hearts was actually one of my favorite characters only because she was a bitch and had a rude attitude. Call me a bitch as well, but I liked her personality. For some reason, I did, but mainly because she's the Queen of Hearts that everyone else despised while I enjoyed her.

Before becoming the rude Queen, Catherine 'Cath' Pinkerton was just a normal girl who wanted to be happy by opening her own bakery with one of her good friends, Mary-Ann, and she wanted to fall in love, to be happy, to know what's it like to be in love. Before turning into the Queen of Hearts and marrying the infamous King of Hearts, Cath just wanted her own fairytale of falling in love and feeling passion, to be happy while she lived the young life she had. Her parents, being the strict parents that don't really care what happiness for their daughter is and what it really means, don't want her to do that and don't approve of it. Instead, they try pushing her into becoming the only girl that can be seen at a royal ball where the King himself can fall in love with her and propose to her, and that is exactly what happens. The King of Hearts, an immature and childish boy who does not have the capability of ruling a kingdom, proposes to Catherine. He does not show any love and affection towards her in any way but he does show it to her pastries and desserts, which might be why he proposes to her.

Cath, feeling a disgusted pleasure, does not want to accept this proposal and marry the King. Luckily for her, on the same day, a mysterious and new court joker who goes by the name of Jest, arrives on the same day and steals a glance at Cath, not bothering to care about the interruption he just made. As Jest entered the ball and was able to talk to Cath in a way, the two start seeing each other more and all that leads to their own private courtship that is both loving but endangering to both, especially Cath.

So to say it all, I loved Heartless! I really don't care what other have to say about this. I think I loved it so much because it was a retelling of the Queen of Hearts and not about Alice. What made me love this more was that Marissa included so many characters and aspects of the original retelling. We get the Cheshire Cat, Jack 'The Knave of Hearts,' the Caterpillar, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and other characters that were invented by Marissa. So I know the Red Queen and the Queen of hearts are different characters, but the White Queen and Red Queen were mentioned in this novel by Jest which was something that brought back memories from the movie as well. So to say it all, there were characters from the movie and the original Disney film. We also get such a different setting in this world. It's the world in Wonderland, but it was in the own creation and words of Marissa. It feels very different reading it when comparing it to the other films since it doesn't have to do much with Alice herself, but I was just glad Marissa was able to top that off as well. She was able to make this her own and unique world of Wonderland and it fit the characters and the story perfectly. Other kingdoms were mentioned as well and it was great finding out new things I actually didn't know about. The writing was also something I completely enjoyed! Like I said, Marissa has been the only author that has been able to captivate me into her new worlds and into her writing without complaints since the beginning. I'm always afraid to read retellings because I always think it will ruin the original fairy tale, but when it comes to Marissa, there's no doubt I'll love it.

Cath was definitely a character I enjoyed reading about. She was a simple and normal girl who wanted to live a life she wanted to live, to choose the path she wanted to choose, not the ones her parents wanted for her. She was good, understanding, lovely, adorable, and just cute! It's a fantasy book, so I can't relate to characters, but Cath was a character I was able to understand from the beginning until the end. She had her own dreams and sometimes just wanted to run away and escape the world she was living in because she felt controlled at times by the King and her parents. She couldn't do everything she pleased or wanted to do, and she had to listen to everyone all the time and deal with it all. She didn't have many friends. In fact, she didn't have anyone to count on, not even Chesire. She couldn't trust herself to tell anyone anything or meet anyone knew and feel like they would become friends because she's never had the heart to do that. I sometimes felt bad for Cath and that is part of why I loved her character. She was just cute, that is all. She was also caring and nice but of course, the teenage girl must become the Queen of Hearts that orders to chop heads off and has everyone hating her.

Another thing I loved about Cath is that she wasn't afraid to find out who this mysterious court joker and what he was up to, Jest. Jest was just wonderful in every way possible. He is another one of those fictional characters that are added to my book boyfriends list along with other girls and other book boyfriends over there who actually have a girlfriend ;) Jest was just the perfect one for Cath. I wouldn't call them boyfriend and girlfriend because their relationship actually started late, but the way their friendship was growing and turning into small aspects of a relationship was cute. Cath admitting to herself that she hated how she was falling for Jest immediately was funny, and of course, a book pet peeve of mine is insta love and I honestly hate it, but insta love here was different and I actually didn't mind it which is not something that usually happens. Never has happened, but with Heartless, history has been made. Cath and Jest both fell for each other and that involved insta love, but I wasn't upset. The only reason I hate it is because the author didn't write it correctly or in a way where I was able to enjoy it. There was no love triangle, and thank you, Marissa, for that, so instead love wasn't a problem. I loved them together since the beginning since Jest started his small performance that left the King and everyone else amazed and surprised and then just, left. Jest was just perfect. The ending doesn't change anything for me and I will love him forever and always. He brought her to different worlds. What I mean by that is that he was able to make Cath smile and laugh like no one else and I just loved that. Jest was just amazing in every way and I loved everything about him. He's a mysterious joker, a swoon-worthy male who had me giggling like a small 5-year-old fangirl because I couldn't get enough of him. Sana and I swooned over him since the beginning because he was a mysterious dude and he just sounded like those other attractive fictional characters.

A joker. A rook. A mystery.

Unlike Jest and Cath, the other characters were the pieces of the book that I did not like in any way. Actually, I enjoyed the Raven and Chesire, but that's it. The King was very immature, childish, a fool, and did not have any kind of ability to rule a kingdom. He was a King who was very scared and did not have any protection under him in any way, he did not know how the care for a wife really is, and he couldn't do anything by himself. He and Cath were not meant to be together in any way and it's obvious from the start, which was another thing I was happy about. The other characters, like Jack and The Mad Hatter, were assholes at times as well. Jack, first, was the character I hated the most from the beginning besides the King. He was a selfish guy who didn't care about anyone and anything besides himself and I really hated how he didn't try anything new. The Mad Hatter was a little different than the Hatta we're familiar with. This guy created and gave hats that could turn people into someone else, which is found out as we learn a little more about him. He was also mysterious, like the Joker, and he was also a selfish guy who didn't care much about the outside but only for himself and what he felt on the inside which was something I didn't like as well. Even with the complaints I have with almost every other character, this book was just phenomenal! It was just what I needed; it was just the retelling I needed to read and I couldn't be happier to finally find a fairy tale retelling that made me my little red heart happy and then shattered it, not allowing it to feel anything.

Marissa Meyer is just a wonderful writer and I'm so glad she was able to come up with this and write it the way I was expecting it. I'm really looking forward to her future novels, her upcoming releases, and anything she has in mind. I heard she's into fairy tales a lot so what she will normally write will be retellings and I am just perfectly okay with that. I loved this a lot, just a lot. I'm not in a hangover, but I feel many emotions towards that ending. Those 4 last words, those 2 words that I read over and over again that made me sad over and over again when I knew that would happen. I currently hate Sana for that because she kept telling me she had predictions and theories and me being the person that doesn't predict anything or have any theories because they can ruin the whole story for me, was very very mad at her. I don't ever predict (unless it's so obvious and it's like, right there) because sometimes I feel like I can or will be right and it will just ruin the whole thing for me. There won't be a point in reading the rest of the story if I already know what's gonna happen. Even if I spoiled myself, I would just skip to the end and say I finished it by skimming the last few pages or the rest of pages that were left of the book. I mean, that's happened a lot (when I spoil myself) so it wouldn't matter to me.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
February 13, 2017
DNF 53%
I almost never give up on a book, but...
Yikes. Um. Yeah, no.
Sorry this one just isn't for me. I tried. But, it was just too boring for my personal taste.
I should probably mention that I'm not an Alice in Wonderland fan. I've never read it, and I never plan to. In fact, I've never even made it all the way through the Disney movie. I know it's a classic and all, but even the animated version bores me.


I'm not saying this story is boring, just that it's boring to me.
Catherine is the daughter of a marquess, but wants to be a baker. She's getting pushed into marrying the King of Heart, but she's in love with the Jester. In the background, there's a monster (Jabberwocky) on the loose. And there's all sorts of Alice in Wonderland characters/references going on throughout.


And since I'm in the very small minority, I'm assuming that all of the above mentioned stuff was wonderful for most of the readers. To me though, it was chock full of equal parts weird and dull. The world's most snoozworthy romance happening in Trippyville.
I've been struggling with this book for over a month now, and I finally decided to take the coward's way out, and *GASP!* skip to the last few pages to see how it all turned out.


Yeah, no thanks.
I've only DNF'd a small handful of books over the years, but I'm afraid this is going to have to be one of them. I could lie to myself and say maybe I'll come back to it at a later date, but you and I both know that ain't happening. Due to all the glowing reviews, I don't think most of you will find this book as unreadable as I did, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Profile Image for toointofiction.
216 reviews210 followers
November 11, 2021
"One to be a murderer. One to be a Martyr. One to be a Monarch. One to go Mad."

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

❗❗May contain some spoilers❗❗


This is one of the most AMAZING books I've read this year. I can't believe it took me so long to read it, I've had this book for ages and it was just sitting on my shelf.

I rarely find books where the protagonist becomes a villain/antagonist instead of a hero by the end of the story, so this was very refreshing to read. Although, I found it a little difficult to keep reading since it's clear that the ending will be a tragic one. Heartless is intended as a prequel/retelling of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Specifically, the backstory of The Queen of Hearts and how she came to be so angry and murderous.

This version of The Queen of Hearts' backstory made me sympathize with her, feel sorry for her. I completely get why she became the cruel, angry Queen we are all familiar with, and ehy she's so obsessed with decapitation. Meyer gave the very one-dimensional character that Lewis Carroll created a story that made her human. That showed the good in her, and how it became corrupted with pain, heartbreak, and oppression. She started as a girl, kind and sweet, with dreams of her own and no chances of reach them. She had no control of her own life, or fate, choices were always made for her, and as if that wasn't bad enough, she wasn't even allowed to be with the one she love. She watched him die, instead. She was slowly led to becoming The Queen of Hearts, but without a heart of her own.

I absolutely loved the romace. BEAUTIFUL. TRAGIC. DEVASTATING. Because, 'happy even after' isn't as attainable as fairytales make it out to be. Here comes Jest, a skilled jocker from another kingdom, send with a mission to steal the heart of The Queen of Heart. The problem is, there isn't one. Yet. Instead of leading Cath into the arms of the King, he falls in love with her and she with him. Knowing how that love will turn out made every scene between them pure torture. However, it's not often one gets to read about doomed lovers, anymore. It's what made me love this book so damn much.

The Edgar Allan Poe and Greek Mythology references were a VEEERY nice touch to this book. They are literally two of my favourite literary elements and they were mixed beautifully with the story.

Now, excuse me while I break down in tears. *uncontrollable weeping sounds*
Profile Image for P .
691 reviews327 followers
February 6, 2017
“Roses are red, violets are blue,
I would even trim my moustache for you!”

This book is magic. I could feel it everywhere when words were recounted, when songs were chanted and when hearts were broken. Other than that, the book made me giggle continually. Catherine has the great development since the beginning. Her character is played out an exact direction as a good girl constrained by traditions. And then she meets Jest, her heart is conveyed out of the path of marrying the King of Hearts. Cath was my main focus through this book. I admired her at first, but around the middle I felt as if her personality was queerly changed. I should have felt good with it, but I didn't.

“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”

There was something about Heartless making me quaver all the time. I was afraid that this book would be another Fairest, a pitiful girl turns villainous by people around her. Anyhow, the ending was not what I was afraid of, and I was quite satisfied with those twists and turns flipping my stomach and wrenching my heart painfully. I kinda understood the motivations of the MCs, though. They follows the story that already happened in Alice in Wonderland, which Marissa Meyer tried so hard to respect the original one, and she did well.

“Over everything, I choose you”

Apart from my rumbling stomach, I have some problems with Heartless, too, for its lack of dymanic throughout the story. The narration is good but slow, and if someone doesn't enjoy the courtesy of the Victorian era as I did, it'll be boring and easy to lose interest since the first few chapters. By the by, I liked many things of Heartless: its characters, story, twists and magical world which divided by the Looking Glass. They captured my atttention successfully and made me fall in love with Alice in Wonderland all over again.

“Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”

One final question.

Profile Image for Debra .
2,421 reviews35.2k followers
December 1, 2020
4.5 stars

A Heart, once stolen, can never be taken back.

Oh how delicious this book was!

Catherine loves to bake. She dreams of owning her own bakery one day. She would love to just bake and bake and bake. It makes her happy and gives her purpose. Her parents, on the other hand, have other plans for her. For you see, the King fancies her. One cannot be Queen and bake delectable pastries at the same time! Not here, Not in Wonderland!

At a Royal ball where the King is expected to propose to her, she meets Jest, the new Joker. He is handsome, funny and catches Cat's eye. She finds the King to be nice, but it is Jest who makes her feel alive. Not wanting to disappoint her family, she enters a secret relationship with Jest.

I had so much fun reading this book. All the Wonderland characters are there: the mad hatter who is not quite "Mad", the Jabberwocky, Cheshire cat. But mainly I enjoyed this re-telling about how the Queen of Heart came about.

"Her rage split her open"

As I stated earlier there is something to so captivating and intriguing about this book. WE all know the Alice in Wonderland Story but what happened before Alice's fateful trip to Wonderland? How can a lovely sweet young woman turn into someone so "heartless"? It is all her laid out for us. I sat down in the reading room of my favorite library and read this book in one sitting. I think I was smiling most of the time and when I wasn't smiling, my heart was breaking for young lovers and those pressured by family, circumstance and duty.

"Over everything, I choose you."

I choose this book! Brilliant and touching. I wanted to shake many of the characters for their bad decisions. This book had a lot of heart and I could see that a lot of love went into writing this book. It is clever, fun, beautiful, heartbreaking, tragic, and captivating. Meyer is a talented writer who brings these characters to life! My heart broke at the end but that was the point.

Highly Recommend! Go out and read this book and if you don't then "Off with your head!"

Find more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Arini.
857 reviews1,766 followers
June 29, 2023

Unpopular Opinion

Flipping through a baking cookbook would’ve been far more fascinating than reading this piss poor book. I’d thought Alice in Wonderland and Marissa Meyer, it would be a splendid combo. But, no. This book is mercilessly boring. It took me FOREVER to finish, and that’s never a good sign. Everytime I completed a few pages off it, it put me in a cranky mood the rest of the day.

The only thing the blurb gets right about Cath is that she is a talented baker. Everything else is a farce. All she does in this book is give us in-depth descriptions of her cakes, whine, make stupid decisions, throw tantrums, then complain some more. It’s also ridiculous that she’s supposed to ‘ascend’ as the Queen of Hearts and become the ‘terror of Wonderland,’ yet there’s barely any character development to her antiheroism to speak of.

Jest is an interesting love interest. Him and Cath are cute together. But their romance lacks any sort of emotions and tensions which doesn’t make sense because isn’t that the point of forbidden love? Or just about any type of romance, really. In fact, I’m positive Cath feels more passionately about her pastries than she does Jest. To be quite honest, I don’t get what he sees in her in the first place.

What is plot? Because whereas every book typically has one, this book has none. Nothing happens until it hits the 80% mark. The story of what could’ve been a dark, bloody, and all around epic descent to villainy simply falls flat and is wholly unsatisfying. There’s not enough madness, not enough twists and turns, and not enough offing heads. Hundreds of pages, and this book is merely spewing nonsense. God, it should be a sin!

I don’t think I conveyed as strongly as I would’ve liked how much I disliked this book. There’s not a single thing that I even remotely enjoyed about it. I’m gravely devastated because Marissa Meyer is one of my favorite authors. I loved her Lunar Chronicles so much, and I adored the Renegades trilogy. But this…this is utterly maddening and irrevocably disappointing.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,114 followers
May 13, 2018
“These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,’ he said, vanishing up to his neck. ‘They happen only in nightmares.’

This was great! In the beginning, I wasn’t sure - it was rather cutesy, and I found Cath slightly irritating.
But as I carried on, this book grew darker and darker! I loved being immersed in Meyer’s version of Wonderland, with many characters to be recognised; including the Caterpillar, the White Rabbit, the Hatter, March Hare, Doormouse, Cheshire Cat and even Mary-Ann for any super fans of the Disney film.
Cath is the daughter of the Marquess of Turtle Rock Cove and a shoe in to become the King of Hearts’ future bride. Unfortunately, she has no desire to be Queen of the Kingdom of Hearts. She’d much rather set up a Bakery business with her best friend Mary-Ann and do something she loves.
At one of the King’s numerous parties, Cath fears an imminent proposal and flees into the castle gardens, where she meets the Court Joker - Jest. He is witty, clever and with a knack for the impossible.
Suddenly Cath finds herself even more desperate than before to avoid engagement to the King.
Throw in battles with the Jabberwock and mysterious items coming over from the land of Chess; entered only through the looking glass and a well watched over by three creepy girls and this book has some serious fantasticalness!
But as we all know how the story ends, it was frightening to see how everything would unravel, and there was so much magic and world building, I was both enraptured and heart broken all at the same time!
4 stars 🌟
Profile Image for Lia Strange.
477 reviews205 followers
May 2, 2021
nota para mi misma: tengo que dejar de enamorarme de personajes que van a morir
Profile Image for demi. ♡.
206 reviews275 followers
September 18, 2019
❥ 4.5 / 5 stars

I’m heartless now because this book has just broken my heart❗️

- Deducted 0.5 stars for my love-hate relationship with Catherine. -
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