Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

heartlessAuthor: Marissa Meyer

Series: Standalone

Format: Hardcover

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling

Page Count: 449

Rating: ★★★☆☆

“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”


Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. 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 a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.


Heartless is an enchanting retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. As I’m someone with virtually no knowledge of the original story line (I’ve never read the book(s), seen any movies about it), the world that Meyer built was extremely fun and unique, although ever so slightly confusing at first.

Although, the whole story centered around our protagonist, Catherine, before she came the cruel Queen of Hearts that we’re familiar with. In the beginning of the book, I found Catherine to be quite dull, it wasn’t until the main plot began that she grew as a character. In a general sense, the entire cast of the novel is very enchanting and whimsical, and they pull you into the story. However, a vibrant cast of characters doesn’t make up for other lacking departments.

In a simple sense, this book is a love story set inside an extremely creative world. There is no overarching plot line to the book, rather it is full of miniature subplots that culminate in the end. It took me a long time to get into the book in the beginning, and then it dragged once again before the ending. I also found the ending (until the last few pages) to be quite dry compared to the quick sequence of events that preceded it. The book just follows Catherine’s misery and her slow demise into the ruthless Queen of Hearts, and while it was important to the character development, I just didn’t care for reading several chapters about how much someone’s life sucked.

“One to be a murderer. One to be a Martyr. One to be a Monarch. One to go Mad.”  

However, when there was action present I could easily soak up every rich and vivid detail that Meyer puts forth. It’s so easy to imagine the terrors of the Jabberwock, Jest’s beautiful performances for the King, the King himself blubbering off in a corner, and the tea party hosted by Hatter. I truly applaud Meyer for her creative spins on the original story, which kept me interested in the book.

Speaking of Jest, along with Chesire, he was by far one of my favorite characters. He was charming, swoon worthy, and definitely fun to read. The romance between Jest and Catherine, while rushed feeling at some points, was quite sweet and emotional. I’m always a fan of forbidden romances, especially if they have that aspect of mystery thrown in!

After we meet Jest, we’re thrown into this magical world full of crazy tea parties, hats that seem to have unique powers, and whole different realms. This was my favorite part of the book, especially learning more about Hatter’s life. I enjoyed Meyer’s decision of exploring the Mad Hatter’s life before he becomes mad, it was quite charming and different.

Overall, Heartless is another fun retelling from Marissa Meyer. The world is gorgeously crafted and unveiled to the reader, and there are plenty of quirky characters to get to know. However, that does not make up for the severe lack of an overarching plot, and an underwhelming end. Yet, if you are a Alice in Wonderland fan, and love a good retelling… this is the book for you.


9 thoughts on “Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

  1. I’m glad you liked the book for the most part 😀 It took a while for Catherine to grow on me, too, but I eventually came to like her towards the middle of the book. And yes, Jest is most definitely a charming love interest. The ending was a bit lacking but I loved to see her turn into the villainess that we all know and love/hate. Plus, the world was so fun to delve into. Awesome review, McKenzie! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a hard choice, but I think I might go with the “Off with his head!” Catherine LOL XD It was just so satisfying to see her exact revenge on Peter Peter haha

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh, great review McKenzie! I’ve been thinking of picking up this book for some time now. I wasn’t a big fan of Meyer’s Cinder series (the representation of Chinese culture had me side-eyeing it a little), but maybe Heartless will be a good read? Regardless, I look forward to reading this eventually. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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