I adore Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland. As a kid I was desperately searching for ‘the’ rabbit hole to find Wonderland (and still am sometimes!).
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit sceptical about Heartless as I did not want another butchered retold version of an original book. But then Valentines’ Day came along, and I thought: what a fantastic opportunity to give it a go. 😊
I was wrong, I loved this book. I am a firm believer in the magical nonsensical world of Wonderland and Meyer did a fabulous job transporting me there again.
“Perhaps we know each other in the future and you’re only remembering backward.”
Heartless is not a true re-telling story per se. It is set in Wonderland and it does use characters we all know from Lewis Carol’s book but that’s it. It has a unique story of how Catherine Pinkerton became the Queen of Hearts. And for those, who do not know who the Queen of Hearts is, it is not a happy ending story. But it is a welcome addition to the enchanting world of Wonderland.
“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”
It all starts with Catherine’s big dream of opening her own bakery which she would co-run with her best friend, who happens to be her maid. There’s a lot cake / macaroon talking, and I believe it may be entirely the book’s fault should I have put on some weight whilst reading it. 😉
It’s not just a story about cakes though, it’s also a story of forbidden love and friendship. It is a sad and sometimes brutal story and it’s not a fast-paced story. Yet somehow, it really worked for me. I got to go back to Wonderland to meet my lovely friend Cheshire Cat, got to have some tea with the Hatter and was surrounded by all those strangely wonderful characters whom I missed dearly for years.
“Are you here for a reason, Cheshire?
Why, yes, I would enjoy a cup of tea. I take mine with lots of cream, and no tea. Thank you.”
I did not like Catherine but thinking about it, maybe that was the point. Catherine is a self-centred character who primarily cares about baking and Jest. There is goodness in her too though and we get to see it when she tries to help several characters. I really didn’t like her that much, but I did feel empathy towards her. Anyone who feels trapped and that there is no way out of a situation would get frustrated and would be ready to do whatever is necessary to change that.
I’ll end of up with the riddle – why is a raven like a writing desk?
You’ll get the answer in the book. I also really love the ending note where Meyer talks about this particular riddle in greater detail. Enjoy!