I've never managed to read my way through either of Carroll's works, and detest the Disney animated "Alice in Wonderland." Although I've appreciated some recent takes on the iconic world, it generally is not my cup of tea at all. This fact, in addition to my less than enthusiastic reaction to Meyer's previous villain backstory ("Fairest") made me ambivalent about the recent "Heartless" release. However, a coupon for Half Price Books and the absence of the book I really wanted shifted the scales, and I ended up picking up a copy.
|(The photo does not do it justice!)|
(Which, I'll admit, was in part because the cover is so dang gorgeous. Every time I picked up the book I drooled over the beautiful design and lamented the fact that such a cool production is out of my reach as long as I am in the self-publishing arena).
But unlike Meyer's "Fairest", "Heartless" stars a sympathetic and lovable heroine. In fact, Cath is so sweet and endearing, that it seems impossible that she is really the Queen of Hearts. She is a young lady of noble birth, who desires nothing more than to start a bakery, when all of her plans are upset by two suitors...
My non-spoiler wrap up? "Heartless" is a book as rich as the treats Cath bakes, going from whimsy, to spectacular, to a bone-chilling finish.
At first, my foray into the world of Wonderland was slow, because, well, as I've already mentioned, I'm not a Wonderland fan. And the human/animal romance side plot was a little weird. BUT Meyer did a great job of making it all work. The curiosities and craziness of the land of Hearts is believable and a good mix of annoying and endearing.
...but then she adds a layer of cool and chilling -- from the creepiness of a familiar childhood nursery rhyme, to the awesome imagining of characters from the land of Chess (Rooks are the beeest), to her take on the Mad Hatter -- Meyer's Wonderland is entrancing and awesome.
So awesome, that I would give this book five stars and recommend it to any fan of fairy-tale retellings...but I would include a strong warning. This is a beautiful book with a heartbreaking ending. When I finished, I felt as though my own heart had been ripped out (a la OUAT).
Back to the first paragraph -- although the theme is similar to those explored by Maguire, I found "Heartless" to be more my cup of tea, and also more suited to a YA audience. "Wicked" fans will doubtless enjoy this, but even if you didn't like "Wicked" you may still wish to check out "Heartless" as it is tonally rather different.