HEARTLESS Countdown: Review + Fierce Reads Q&A Details

With 32 days left to go, discover the whimsy, wonder, and heartbreak of Marissa Meyer’s HEARTLESS!

How does a red, beating heart turn so very black? Marissa Meyer is ready to show you!

The author of The Lunar Chronicles has delved into villain origin stories before. But where her previous outing, Fairest, was chilling and heavy, she’s giving us a novel that’s uniquely whimsical, dark, and delightful with Heartless!

An origin story for Alice In Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, the novel introduces us to someone very different than the maniacal ruler: Cath, the 16-year-old daughter of a wealthy marquess who wants nothing more out of life but to start her own bakery and avoid marrying the loopy King of Hearts. Just when her unhappy fate seems set, Cath meets Jest, the mysterious new court joker. The two have an undeniable connection. She doesn’t know Jest well and their emotions must remain carefully hidden, but if Cath couldn’t handle her forced relationship with the king before, how could she possibly do so while her affections lay elsewhere? Add in a rogue Jabberwock, croquet, trickster illusions, a disappearing cat, gateways between worlds, and a perhaps-not-so-mad Hatta and you’ve got a wild, topsy-turvy journey through the land of Hearts!

Marissa Meyer expertly creates an original, compelling story within the cultural phenomenon that is Alice In Wonderland, using the elements we all know with love and care. Few popular Alice characters, places, or quirks are simply mentioned– They’re given reverence and blended into Cath’s adventures instead. However, Meyer’s story adds in original elements so seamlessly that we even looked up a few to see if they were part of Lewis Carroll’s mythology. She maintains the sense of curiosity and wonder with the right combination of flourishes and feelings. A working knowledge of Alice In Wonderland helps (admittedly, we were rusty on some of the character references,) but it’s not necessary.

Cath is certainly a likable character and you relate to her conundrums: She has ambition in spades, but she’s young enough that nobody cares much. Her parents are more concerned with stability and titles than dreams, clueless as to why their daughter would want something more than the cushy, royal life. Jest doesn’t sweep in and “save” Cath, but he provides something special for her: Someone who opens up new possibilities, supports what she wants in life, and will stand by her while she fights for it. With his riddles, charming repertoire, and clear emotion for Cath, it’s easy to swoon over Jest. Of course, there’s plenty more about him beyond his suave veneer to enjoy as well.

The secondary characters in the tale do a great job of keeping things interesting. Cath has an easy friend in Maryann and an odd frenemy in Margaret. There are creepy acquaintances– like The Peters– and endearing ones– like a hapless turtle. Some characters will leave you with chills and unease, but not everything is rainbows and candy through the looking glass. Still, our favorite secondary characters were a couple we were already acquainted with: the forever wildcard that is the Cheshire cat, and a softer but always very strange Mad Hatter.

Heartless is a difficult book to describe because you want to describe everything. It’s a book that screams “Look here! No, look over there!” There’s always something happening and even when it’s not particularly action-packed, it’s described in lush detail. You root for Cath as she navigates her messy choices and tries to do the best thing for herself without letting everyone else down. If her ultimate fate and the journey leading up to it doesn’t pull at your heartstrings, we’re pretty sure you’re not even human. Just saying!

If you love Marissa Meyer’s previous books, retellings, or Alice In Wonderland in general, you’ll be sinking your teeth into this novel faster than the queen can yell “Off with their heads!”


We’re much obliged to present you with our review of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless as part of the Countdown to Heartless blog tour, but we also have a special announcement: You can chat with Marissa Meyer about her new book TONIGHT during a Facebook live chat on Fierce Reads!


Get your questions ready for the queen of retellings now!

Heartless hits bookshelves on November 8, 2016. You can preorder now via Amazon.


Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

By Kait

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary