I got another book read (actually two, but we’ll save the other book for another post) – this one, Heartless, by Melissa Meyer.
I’ve been reluctant to read Melissa, and full disclosure, it was because I had her mistaken for Stephenie Meyer and wasn’t anxious to start another one of “those” books.
I received Heartless as a part of my Owlcrate subscription for November (the theme was Wonderland). I am madly in love with anything Alice, and when I found out it was a prequel, a telling about the Red Queen, I made it one of my to-reads for December.
Heartless takes place before Alice arriving in Wonderland and tells the story of how the Red Queen, Catherine, becomes so cold-hearted, and off-with-your-head happy.
Insert – I’m going to do my best to leave out spoilers!
Catherine and her friend/maid Mary Ann want to open a bakery, and in the meantime, the King of Hearts has decided to propose to Catherine. Enter Jest, the Joker with ulterior motives and now love interest of Catherine.
Enter the Hatter, Cheshire Cat, the Jabberwock, and various other Wonderland characters and the story plays out before us.
I fell in love with Melissa’s version of Wonderland – she treated the beloved characters well and made sure the story worked into Alice. I felt Melissa expanded on the character’s day-to-day lives and they’ll now be more vibrant when I read Alice again. Melissa even explains how the Hatter went mad. I also enjoyed her addition of Jest’s Raven (a raven named Raven) who she has quote Edgar Allen Poe…and it works! You can see Melissa’s love of Wonderland in this book. Cheshire is the speaker of wise words, with one line that crushed me:
An empty threat from an empty girl.
She also gives us several answers to “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”
I always preferred the answer: because they both have quills dipped in ink.
Side note, in the acknowledgments, Melissa does admit this answer is from David B. Jodrey, Jr. in The Annotated Alice.
However, the love story between Jest and Catherine was not strong enough. I feel that this book could’ve either been longer or been a series to make the heartbreaking ending carry more weight and be stronger. Also, I picked out the bad guy with their first introduction and one of the “other” mysteries. Again, trying to leave this spoiler free.
Let’s put it another way; I am a crier. I cry at almost anything. This ending broke my heart, but no tears came. That was my clue the love story didn’t get to me as it should’ve. Melissa’s ending, along with Catherine and Jest’s story, deserved tears at the end and I am sorry I couldn’t give them.
The other thing I wanted, a map.
My Goodreads rating was a 3 out of 5 stars. Average.
If you are an avid lover of all things Wonderland, the book is worth the purchase. Otherwise, I’d say this one is worthy of a library checkout. This book has won me over, so don’t worry Melissa, I will be trying out your Lunar Chronicles at a later date.