Whether you’ve read the book or seen one of the adaptations you’ll probably remember the Queen Of Hearts as the villain from Alice’s epic Wonderland adventure. In her latest take on a classic tale Marissa Meyer (author of The Lunar Chronicles series) sets out to explore just what happened to this young woman to turn her into the evil Queen perhaps best known for exclaiming “off with their heads!”.
In the novel we are introduced to Catherine, a keen baker living in the kingdom of Hearts with dreams of one day opening her own bakery full of sweet treats. Cath’s parents however are completely unaware of her ambitions and the Marchioness’ dreams involve something quite different; marrying off her only daughter to the King. In Meyer’s version of events, Cath will do anything in her power to avoid becoming Queen and meeting mysterious court joker Jest only makes her more determined to escape her destiny. Following her heart, Cath enters a secret courtship with Jest, attending tea parties with Hatta and fleeing Jabberwock attacks in a tale that takes inspiration from many Alice elements fans of Wonderland will love.
This unique novel sheds a new light on the Queen and Meyer’s descriptions throughout paint a magical picture perfect for this setting. As the book is an imagined backstory for the famous Queen Of Hearts, we know that our leading lady will become Queen by the end of the novel, but it’s Meyer’s vision of how she gets there that makes Heartless such an enjoyable read.