Publication: November 8th 2016
I recently finished reading "Heartless" by Marissa Meyer, a story based on the characters of "Alice in Wonderland". The novel tells the story of Catherine, before she was the infamously heartless "Queen of Hearts".
Lady Catherine is an immensely talented baker, who hopes to one day open a baker with her lady-in-waiting and trusted friend, Mary Anne. Her parents however, the Marquess and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove, do not deem it a profession proper for a Lady of the Court.
For you see, Catherine has been in the clumsy King's sights for a while now. At a ball where he is expected to propose to her, she meets the new court joker, Jest and begins to court him secretly.
I absolutely loved this book! Having read both "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass", I couldn't help awaiting the introduction of characters like Cheshire and the (then sane) Mad Hatter. I also couldn't help noticing the similarity between Lady Catherine and Alice. Both new to the world away from courts and monarchs, the journey they face is rather similar.
Marissa Meyer writes in a strikingly similar style to Lewis Caroll. Although I haven't compared the styles per say, I will say with confidence that her writing takes me back to "Alice in Wonderland", purely because of her characterization and naming of areas. For example, Time is not an abstract noun, but an evasive person in her novel!
The other thing I enjoyed about the plot is Meyer's take on the common societal bias that "proper ladies" do not work. It seems to shine more as a preeminent theme against the backdrop of Wonderland than it has in so many other novels where the theme simply compliments a realistic fiction.
Further, Meyer also emphasizes on yet another societal bias, dealing with familial relationships in well-off families. Catherine often finds herself confiding in her servant, Mary Ann, rather than her parents. She also does not have any real friends, as she is afraid of being a discredit to her family by speaking honestly.
This book is definitely a must-read for anyone who's read "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass". If you haven't read those, then pick up this book anyway, and read it BEFORE you read Lewis Caroll's original works. Treat it as a prequel to the classics. Trust me you'll all be blown away!