I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8, 2016
Source: the publisher
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.
This book was an intriguing and imaginative take on the classic that fans of retellings will love! The writing and world are gorgeous, but that’s a given since this is Marissa Meyer! The characters are wonderfully reimagined – I love Meyer’s take on how certain characters got their starts and how they came to be as they are in present-day Wonderland.
I really liked Catherine. It was so interesting to see the infamous, feared Queen of Hearts as a young girl, kind and carefree. It was great seeing the way she evolved and how she came to be a true Queen. I also loved the way Meyer explained the origin of those chilling words – “Off with their heads!” And I loved her friendship with Mary Ann, but the way things ended made me sad panda.
The Joker was hilarious, kind and wonderful – if not slightly deceitful for keeping so many things from Catherine. Their story could have ended so differently had he been honest from the beginning. Even still, I did NOT expect his fate to be what it was. And the things his fate set into motion? Unbelievable!
There were SO many other characters that I could discuss, but we’d be here all night. This book has a huge cast of characters and they’re all interesting in their own right. Some are new to the story, like Jack (who was an ass) and Margaret (who was horrible) and others were beloved characters from the classic, like the white rabbit, Mr. Caterpillar and and the King of Hearts. But in true Marissa Meyer fashion, whether they were secondary characters or tertiary characters, they were incredible, multi-dimensional characters who you wanted to know more about!
One of my favorite things in Alice in Wonderland retellings is the Mad Hatter and his tea parties. And in that respect, this book did not disappoint! I LOVED Hatta and the way Meyer portrayed him and his story. However, I never fully trusted him. He reminded me of scheming, self-serving, devious Morpheus. I also loved the Cheshire Cat – another favorite of mine when it comes to Alice in Wonderland Retellings. I actually would have liked to see MORE of Cheshire, though, and would have loved to learn more about his backstory.
I definitely think this is the kind of retelling where, if you haven’t read the original classic, you’re fine and can follow along without an issue. BUT.. If you HAVE read the original, you definitely catch more. Meyer brings in a lot of elements from the classic, including certain elements of Wonderland and certain quotes from the original text. There are mentions of the Tulgey Wood, the Jabberwock, the Vorpal Sword, the Looking Glass maze, the foods that make you shrink/grow, the Hatter and his mad tea parties, etc.
Unfortunately – and it pains me to say this – I did have a few issues with this book. It’s a stand-alone, as far as I know, so it was a long book because it needed to tell a complete story. However, at times, it felt too long and dragged out. It also had a very slow start. Don’t get me wrong, the entire book was fascinating, but the beginning was just slow. I had to read nearly half the book to get to a point where things really started to pick up. But I also think this is because I put this book on a HIGH pedestal. I expected a LOT from this book and maybe I put too much pressure on it and maybe my expectations were unrealistic. It really was a great book, but I just wanted MORE – expected more.
Overall, though, this book was incredible. Marissa Meyer is an incredible story teller. She creates these amazing worlds and characters and you can’t help but fall head first down the rabbit hole (see what I did there?!?) and into the story. I HIGHLY recommend this book for fans of Marissa Meyer and fans of retellings!