Heartless by Marissa is a fantasy, retelling novel that was published on November 8, 2016 by Feiwel and Friends.
I’ll be mentioning a spoiler-free section as well as a discussion section, so if you haven’t read this book you can still read this book review.
Heartless is a retelling/prequel to Alice in Wonderland and who follows the Queen of Hearts before she became the queen.
Heartless follows the main character Catherine, who is admired in Wonderland, especially by the King of Hearts. She has a dream to open a bakery with her best friend, Mary Ann but her mother wouldn’t allow that and is determined to make Cath the Queen of Hearts.
At the royal ball where Catherine is supposed to be getting the proposal from the King, she meets the mysterious Jest. For the first time, she experiences the feels of real attraction and affection.
Throughout the whole book, Catherine is determined to make her own destiny but fate has a way of making the things that’s supposed to happen, happen.
This book was amazing. Marissa never fails me with her writing and storytelling. This is why she’s my favorite author. The characters and their story lines and backgrounds were amazing and something that I didn’t expect.
Throughout the whole book, you knew exactly what was going to happen but the character’s hope just made me hope that maybe their fate would be different. That’s something that I love to experience when I’m reading; I know what’s going to happen but when it does, I’m hurt and I’m just like why?!
Also, like every time, Marissa Meyer created an amazing love interest, Jest. It’s something that she does amazingly, I completely fell in love with Jest and he just made me smile and swoon and I haven’t felt that amount of swoon in a while so I truly appreciated that.
I definitely recommend this book!
Catherine is so unlike the Queen of Hearts we all know from the beginning of this book. She has a passion for baking and wants to open up a bakery with her maid/best friend Mary Ann. She is so excited about it, to a point that she even speaks to her tarts
“You are my crowning joy,” she proclaimed, spreading her arms wide over the tarts, as if bestowing a knighthood upon them. “Now I bid you to go into the world with your lemony scrumptiousness and bring forth smiles from every mouth you grace with your presence.”
Cheshire is also a character in this book and he’s very amusing. He’s the gossip of the town since he can appear and disappear whenever he wants. He’s really amusing throughout the whole book and always made me laugh with snarky remarks.
“Besides, if ever did eat some bad food, I could still find a use for you. I’ve always wanted a cat-drawn carriage.”
Cheshire opened one eye, his pupil slitted and unamused.
“I would dangle balls of yarn and fish bones out in front to keep you moving.”
He stopped purring long enough to say, “You are not as cute as you think you are, Lady Pinkerton.”
-Catherine & Cheshire
We’re introduced to her mother who is determined to have Catherine married off to the King of Hearts. She made Catherine wear a red dress to a black and white ball, I honestly can’t imagine and I definitely felt secondhand embarrassment because if that would’ve happened to me, I wouldn’t know how to handle it.
The King of Hearts arrives and the first thing he does is ask Catherine for the first dance. From the start, he’s very strange and giggles about everything.
Something I loved seeing was different aspects of Alice in Wonderland like how the joker gave the gold watch to the rabbit (which he always carried around in the story)
The joker did his performance and finished his set. Before he turned into a raven, he winked at her and that’s the moment I realized I shipped it.
Even though Cheshire is a gossip, he admits that he has no idea who the joker is or where he came from. All he knows is that he came to the palace, already dressed, and did some magic tricks and got the job
The King is about to propose to Catherine but she asked Cheshire to cause a distraction which worked because she was able to flee and ended up bumping into the joker before passing out.
She realizes that the Joker is the man with gold eyes from her dream. He tells her a joke and she laughs and snorts which really amuses him and his whole face lights up and I couldn’t help but smile at that.
“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.”
His laugh was unoffended.
-Catherine & Jest
Cath dreams about Jest again and roses appear over her bed instead of lemon trees. The monster, jabbawock attacked the castle after she fled and her parents were worried about her because they didn’t know where she was and because she missed her chance with the King.
Cath really doesn’t want to marry the King and tells Mary Ann that she wants to fall in love and have passion and not just marry someone for the riches
Catherine goes to a garden party and keeps looking for Jest. The king had summoned her and he just keeps talking and boring her . Then she’s attracted to Jest and Jest teases her when the king tells him how Catherine adored his work.
The king mentions the wedding and Catherine freaks out and starts mentioning how the girl should be lucky and happy that he hasn’t asked yet because no one likes to be rushed into things especially marriage and Jest helped her out with it by adding that she’s right . I just love him.
The king came to their house and apparently with Jest’s advice he decided to court her instead of proposing .
The Raven and Jest visit Catherine in her chamber at night.
“Are you in love with someone else?”
She stiffened, bewildered. “Why would you ask that?”
“I thought maybe that’s why you’re opposed to the King. I thought you might have already given your heart away to someone else, but maybe… Maybe it’s someone your parents wouldn’t be so quick to approve of.”
She started to shake her head. “No, there isn’t anyone else.”
She was surprised at the dart of annoyance that stuck in her ribs. “If I had given my heart to someone else, I surely think I would know of it.”
His shoulders sloped downward, though his hands were still securing him to an overhead branch. He looked almost relieved, but also confused. “Of course you would.”
-Jest & Catherine
She looked up again and moved her trembling hands toward his tunic. “I wonder if it would be terribly inappropriate for me to hold on to you.”
“I think you’d better, anyway.”
She nodded once and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, burying her face into his chest. She clutched him as one might a buoy in the sea.
Jest stiffened and wrapped his free arm around her waist.
-Catherine & Jest
They’re honestly so cute and innocent in the beginning of their relationship. It’s really sweet.
They’re going to Hatta’s tea party which makes me so excited . I like seeing characters that I’m familiar with in retellings.
“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”
She thought for a long moment before venturing, “A heart?”
Hatta’s eyes warmed, “Very acute, Lady Pinkerton.”
“Its very good,” she said, “although I wonder whether it wouldn’t be more accurate to say, ‘Once given, I can never be taken back.'”
“That would imply we give our hearts away willingly, and I am not sure that is the case. Perhaps we should ask Jest when he returns. I dare say he’s the expert.”
-Hatta & Catherine
Hatter makes Catherine show the table guests her talent and Jest assures that she doesn’t have to but her pride takes over and she says she’ll do it . She doesn’t know what to do so she tries to tell a story but it ended up being a confession about her baking . They give them the macaroons that was supposed for the King .
The jabbawock shows up at the tea party which causes a chaos.
Jest pulled back, gripping Cath’s shoulders. His brow was drawn with fear and apology, but she stopped him before he could speak.
“It was my choice to come,” she whispered. “You couldn’t have known this would happen.”
A muscle twitched in his jaw. “I will get you home safely.”
She nodded and, despite the fear coursing through her veins, she trusted him. “Impossible is your specialty.”
His eyes softened, barely covering his distress. “So it is.”
-Jest & Catherine
They’re trying to get Cath to safety but she decided to fight back to the jabbawock in order to help the Turtle and she was attacked but the Lion jumped in front of her and was taken away by the jabbawock .
Jest tells her that him and Raven are from Chess and they’re the protector of the white queen . He admits that he’s here because of a mission and Catherine was nervous about him leaving one day but he assured her that if he had a reason to, he would stay.
Gulping, as removed the hat and returned it to jest’s head. “Thank you,” she murmured, hoping he knew it wasn’t just for helping her up the tree and through the window. Hoping he knew it was for everything. The thrills, the laughs, the secrets he’d secrets. The night may have had moments of panic and terror, but it had also been an entire night when she didn’t have to be the daughter of a marquess.
He didn’t set her down. Didn’t let her go.
“When will I see you again?” he whispered.
A tickle erupted in her stomach.; He wanted to see her again.
Happiness coursed to the ends of her limbs.
She could be his reason to stay in Hearts. She wanted to be .
-Catherine & Jest
Mary Ann catches her after her adventure and Mary Ann knows Catherine was lying to her which annoys her and Cath starts telling her everything that happened the night before .
“But what I was really thinking was that you talk about him like… like you talk about about a piece of decadent chocolate cake.”
A honk of a laugh escaped Cath before she could help it. “He is not a piece of cake!”
“No, but I can tell you’re already anticipating the time you’ll see him again, and you’re flushed and smiling the same way you do when you’re perfectly satisfied.”
-Mary Ann & Catherine
Chester tells her that there will be a baking contest at the Turtle Days festival and the winner gets a blue ribbon and twenty gold crowns which means that she doesn’t have to ask her parents for permission if she won.
They talk to Peter Peter , who sells the pumpkins and he’s a horrible man who doesn’t want their business and he also has this huge pumpkin that a noise came out of and looks like a cage which is suspicious. Catherine goes back and just takes a sugar pie pumpkin without his permission . While she does it , she finds a small carousel pony that she remembers being on the Lion’s hat when he was taken away by the jabbawock . It’s obvious that Peter Peter was holding the jabbawock, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.
“And you look…” He hesitated
Cath raised her eyebrows and watched his Adam’s apple bob.
“Today, you seem rather…”
She folded her hands patiently in front of her skirt. She could see him biting back his words. Considering. And reconsidering before, finally, he said, “You are a pleasure to look on, is all, Lady Pinkerton.” He pointed his chin past Catherine’s shoulder, disappointment clouding his expression. “As your beau will no doubt tell you as well.”
-Jest & Catherine
It angers me that they can never have a cute moment without him mentioning the king.
“I was referring to your determination to make me blush, for no other purpose than to laugh at me later.”
He blanched, then took a step closer. Cath could hear the freak of his leather boots. “I assure you that when I replay this conversation in my head later, it will not be in laughter.”
Cath lowered her lashes, her insides fluttering.
-Catherine & Jest
“Please don’t give me false hope.” His voice chipped, forcing her to meet his gaze again. Her pulse thundered. “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.”
Catherine’s mouth ran dry. A crack was burrowing through her chest, threatening to break her open.
“But,” he said, his voice tender and low, “should you decide to refuse him…”
She blinked back the mist in her eyes.
“Then I hope it won’t cause offense if I were to…” Jest hesitated. There was a new tension in his shoulders, an unexpected self-consciousness to the set of his brow. “To call on you. Or… your father.”
“My father,” she whispered.
“Do you think… is there any hope at all that he would entertain my request to court you? With every good intention a poor joker like myself could possibly have.”
-Jest & Catherine
Jest is so freaking cute, I can’t.
Catherine finally gets the ball to tell her parents about the bakery and they’re not having it and say that if she mentions it again, they’ll have to fire Mary Ann .
Catherine realizes that maybe Hatta’s hats changes the person or thing that wears it. He admits that they do change people but also improves them .
The king invites her to this theatre and she tries to make excuses to not go but her mother forces her to go .
Lady Peter comes over to her at the theater and she seems addicted to her pumpkin cake since she crazily keeps asking for it . Catherine admits to getting the pumpkin from her husband’s garden and Lady Peter doesn’t believe her because he burned all of the pumpkins which obviously isn’t true .
“I’m sorry if I’ve been cold to you tonight . Even knowing you don’t fancy him like that, seeing you with him makes me uncannily jealous.”
Her heart skipped. “Does it?”
His expression turned wry as he finally looked at her. “That cannot possibly surprise you.”
-Jest & Catherine
Everytime Jest and Cath are expressing emotions and feelings, the jabbawock shows up and ruins everything and it’s getting annoying .
The jabbawock was about to attack Cath and Jest but Raven came and plunged his beak into the jabbawock’s eye. Raven and Jest start fighting off the jabbawock and Jest tells Cath to run. When she does, her ankle snapped . Jack was about to help her but when he saw the jabbawock, he just ran away. Dickhead .
Jest carries her to help her get better and he gives her this rare liquid to drink which makes her question how he could possibly know where to find that and it turned out to be the “sisters” whose price is something that they don’t truly need
“Only the desperate will ever find this place. Hatta found it when he was desperate not to meet the same fate as his father. I brought you here because you were in so much pain, and I was desperate to make it stop.”
I’m literally in love with him.
Jest’s mission was to come here and steal the Hearts’ queen’s heart and he knows for a fact that Catherine is going to be the Queen of Hearts. He claims that he doesn’t want her to become queeen because he doesn’t want to take her heart but even if she does, he wouldn’t be able to do it . He’s always been loyal to the Queen of Whites but when Catherine is involved , he doesn’t care about that.
They kissed! And the moment they had before that where they just let themselves go and stopped putting up a front was so incredibly beautiful. Marissa always has a way with words , I love her.
Jest is being attacked by guards because they believed that he kidnapped Cath . They don’t believe that he hasn’t done anything wrong and Cath is just trying to explain and no one will listen. She was about to admit that she’s the one who decided to go with Jest in the first place and he ends up making himself look like the bad guy which really angered me . The mother says that Mary Ann was the one who was concerned and considered Jest being the bad guy . Instead of going to jail, he turns himself into a bird and Raven and him fly away.
Cath is not being herself. The Duke tells her that the storefront is hers and her dream can come true but she turns it down . She’s being incredibly rude to everyone and I can see the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland in her.
Catherine attends to a masquerade that Jest shows up to which literally made me giggle.
She licked her lips. His eyes followed the movement, creating a flutter in her stomach that was painful to ignore. “You’re right, it wouldn’t. Which is why I have to accept the king.”
Hurt crossed his face, drawing deep wrinkles across his brow. “Catherine-“
“Then, when I give you my heart, it will truly be the heart of a queen.”
He sucked in a breath and started to shake his head, but she ploughed on.
“And you can take it back to Chess and end your war. That’s what you came here for, isn’t it?”
She inched closer, letting herself be drawn into his shadow. “Maybe there is no amount of magic that could ever make this a possibility,” she whispered against his jaw. He was trembling, but so slightly she could only tell when she stood so close. “If I am not to have happiness, let me at least have a purpose. Let me give you the heart of a queen.”
She watched him swallow, feeling the faint warmth of his breath on her cheek.
-Catherine & Jest
Jest comes back and tells her that he’s found another way for them to be together and she can still have her bakery and he can save Chess .
Jest never took his attention from Cath. “What do you choose!?” He whispered, and though he was so far away, she could hear him plainly. Hope and wanting, so much wanting.
The guards hoisted their weapons and moved towards him, pushing their way through the startled crowd.
“You,” she whispered back to him, and though her voice barely reached even her own ears, we saw the brightness enter his eyes. “Over everything, I choose you.”
He grinned and moved towards the stairs.
-Jest & Catherine
They’re so in love like their relationship is just so beautiful.
Jest’s plan is to make Cathy the queen of Chess, therefore she can help the town and when the war is over , the other queen can take over again and she can be with him and own her bakery.
The drawings of the 3 sisters and what their prophecy:
Herself. Sitting on a throne, wearing the crown of the Queen of Hearts and gripping a heart-tipped scepter in once hand. Her expression was cold as stone .
Beneath that image was another, this one of Hatta. He sat at a long table scattered with broken teacups and cracked played. Rather than surrounded by friends and music and laughter, the chairs around the table were empty. His hair was unkempt, his hat titled to one side; dark circles beneath his eyes. His smile was crazed .
One to be a murderer, the other to be martyred. One to be a monarch, the other to go mad.
Peter, peter, pumpkin eater, Had a wife but couldn’t keep her; He put her in a pumpkin shell And there he kept her very well. Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, Had a pet and couldn’t feed her; Caught a maid who had meant well– What became of her, no one can tell.
Jest tells her that the sisters drew him a picture that had a messenger(Hatta), a monster that looked like the jabbawock and a merry go round like the hat the lion was wearing when he was taken. So there’s evidence that the prophecies could come true.
“Such happiness I hope you’ll make, but these flirtations I cannot take. I wish for you all the joy this darkened world can employ, but you’re still giving me a stomachache.”
Raven is so sassy, I love it
Hatta led them back to Hearts which is so annoying . They were led to a room with many doors and they have to choose the right one . They figure it out but they hear a scream which stops Catherine. It’s Mary Ann’s scream and Sir Peter has her trapped in a pumpkin and Hatta tells her that she has to go through the Looking Glass because then the prophecies will come true but she has to go save her and she tells them not to follow and that she’ll be back.
Peter has the jabbawock and then Mary Ann told him that the jabbawock is his wife which makes so much sense . Mary Ann went to go find a cure and give it to the king so that maybe he can let Jest go and Cath can forgive her which is so sad .
Jest comes to save Cath and that just makes me angry because now I know how this story is going to go and I hate that this prophecy is even a thing .
Cath killed the jabbawock because it was going to kill Hatta. This causes Peter to kill Jest which completely tore me apart. Jest is dead and Cath is freaking out and blaming Mary Ann because she came back for her . She wants to kill Peter .
She’s back home and she’s completely out of control and she doesn’t want to speak to anyone . She wants to go back in time and if she did she wouldn’t go to save Mary Ann if it meant that Jest could still be alive.
The three sisters come and say that they could bring Peter to her for vengeance if they can have the heart of the queen in return and Cath agrees .
Mary Ann wanted to be her maid at the castle and she was saying that they’re best friends and Cath was just thinking “you should’ve died instead.” Which really shows the Queen of Hearts. Cath doesn’t want Mary Ann as her maid .
Catherine tells Hatta cannot keep traveling from Chess and Hearts and that’s she’s destroying the maze and imprisoning the sisters . The thought of that actually drives Hatta mad .
The sisters have arrived to get their side of the deal and Cath agreed . They take her heart and now she’s literally heartless and stands up to Peter . She makes Raven her new executor (so now he’s a murderer) .
This completes the prophecy and obviously ends with the iconic line: