Book Review by Claire Stewart
Claire is fifteen years old and a 2021 Summer Teen Volunteer
Three luscious lemon tarts glistened up at Catherine.First line of Heartless by Marissa Meyer
This book begins by telling the story of Lady Catherine Pinkerton, one of the most desired girls in all of Wonderland, amidst her real dream – baking. She spends the novel fighting fate, avoiding the King’s marriage proposals and her mother’s insistence that she will be Queen.
Of course, she will eventually be Queen – the infamous Queen of Hearts, in fact. And that’s not a spoiler, don’t worry! In fact, it’s the theme of the whole story. We all know who the Queen of Hearts is, and what it is that makes her so well-known; namely, one phrase: “Off with their heads!” So what is it that made Catherine of Hearts, the sweet girl who fell in love and wanted nothing more than to open a bakery, into the terrifying and memorable ruler of Hearts?
This story leads its readers through twists and turns, keeping us on our toes as we try to piece together the puzzle and differentiate fact from fiction in this strange world. We meet famous characters like the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and, of course, the Queen herself. She does what she can to avoid love by the King and finds it elsewhere, at his black-and-white ball – a love that sends her spiraling, literally and figuratively, through Wonderland. This story features everything from lemon tarts and unfortunate turtles to strange pumpkins and unbeknownst best friends to magical rose bushes and criminals who aren’t so villainous. In short, it’s a thrilling read, one that practically jumps at you from off the pages.
As for the novel itself, my family can attest to the fact that it was practically glued to my fingers while I was reading it. I’m hesitant to speak too highly of this book, in case you, dear reader, end up not actually liking it, but this book was definitely to my taste. It’s quite sad, to be honest, and not for the faint of heart. It’s a given that there will be loss of life, love and limb – how else will Cath become the raging “off with their heads” kind of person? So, as long as that’s down your alley, I think you’ll quite enjoy it.
I also found each and every character rather enthralling, just because of intricate backstories and quite humanoid feelings and motives each one possessed. It isn’t the kind of book you’ll find yourself scratching your head and saying, “well, no real person would do that!” – if, of course, you can remember that no rabbits in our world speak and a multitude of hats doesn’t make you magical. I found myself really relating to our leading lady, and being pulled so deeply into her feelings that it was as if they were my own.
Overall, this book was quite sad, so I do give a word of warning to anyone who’s a bit too empathetic and accidentally ends up as an unpaid therapist for fictitious beings. But it was also witty, and interesting, and, ironically, magical. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and hope you do, too!