Hi guys, I’m delighted to be the first stop on the Canadian blog tour for Heartless by Marissa Meyer! Heartless comes out tomorrow, and to celebrate, I’ve got an excerpt focused on the future Queen of Hearts herself, Lady Catherine Pinkerton, and my review. Oh, and I’m also giving away a copy of the book – internationally!
As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of Ms. Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, which are four connected sci-fi fairy tale retellings. Marissa has an incredible talent for making fairy tale characters realistic and making us care about them. At the same time, she plays with the details in fairy tales and twists them to make her retellings unique and full of clues and red herrings.
Heartless is no exception. Cath, the future Queen of Hearts, is such a strong and honest character, and Marissa really digs deep into her to show us a new side to her story. Below, please find an excerpt about Cath, my review of the novel, and yes, a giveaway!
THREE LUSCIOUS LEMON TARTS glistened up at Catherine. She reached her towel-wrapped hands into the oven, ignoring the heat that enveloped her arms and pressed against her cheeks, and lifted the tray from the hearth. The tarts’ sunshine filling quivered, as if glad to be freed from the stone chamber.
Cath held the tray with the same reverence one might reserve for the King’s crown. She refused to take her eyes from the tarts as she padded across the kitchen floor until the tray’s edge landed on the baker’s table with a satisfying thump. The tarts trembled for a moment more before falling still, flawless and gleaming.
Setting the towels aside, she picked through the curled, sugared lemon peels laid out on parchment and arranged them like rose blossoms on the tarts, settling each strip into the still-warm center. The aromas of sweet citrus and buttery, flaky crust curled beneath her nose.
She stepped back to admire her work.
The tarts had taken her all morning. Five hours of weighing the butter and sugar and flour, of mixing and kneading and rolling the dough, of whisking and simmering and straining the egg yolks and lemon juice until they were thick and creamy and the color of buttercups. She had glazed the crust and crimped the edges like a lace doily. She had boiled and candied the delicate strips of lemon peel and ground sugar crystals into a fine powder for garnish. Her fingers itched to dust the tart edges now, but she refrained. They had to cool first, or else the sugar would melt into unattractive puddles on the surface.
These tarts encompassed everything she had learned from the tattered recipe books on the kitchen shelf. There was not a hurried moment nor a careless touch nor a lesser ingredient in those fluted pans. She had been meticulous at every step. She had baked her very heart into them.
Her inspection lingered, her eyes scanning every inch, every roll of the crust, every shining surface.
Finally, she allowed herself a smile.
Before her sat three perfect lemon tarts, and everyone in Hearts—from the dodo birds to the King himself—would have to recognize that she was the best baker in the kingdom. Even her own mother would be forced to admit that it was so.
Author: Marissa Meyer
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest
Also by this author: Cinder, , Scarlet, Winter, Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5), Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5, 0.6, 1.5, 3.1, 3.6), Wires and Nerve, Wires and Nerve, Volume 2
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, Macmillan
Publication date: November 8th 2016
Source: ARC from Raincoast Books (thank you!)
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, 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 unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath 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.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Heartless by Marissa Meyer is the story of Catherine Pinkerton, a member of the gentry and a girl who is a fantastic and impressive baker. She’s dazzled many in the kingdom of Hearts with her take on confections, and longs to start her own bakery. But parental and familial obligations make it difficult for Cath to follow her dreams. Add to that the fact that the King of Hearts is interested in her, and she’s feeling pretty trapped. And, if that wasn’t enough, Cath is fascinated and attracted to the King’s new court joker, Jest. While the former’s attentions are unwanted, the latter is, and Cath and Jest end up entangled while the fate of Wonderland lies in their hands.
I enjoyed and was completely weirded out by the world of Heartless. I knew going in that this was going to be an Alice in Wonderland book. But I somehow didn’t put two and two together on how Meyer was going to deal with the-ahem-drug-induced hallucinations that brought on some of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland characters.
Her solution? Just act as if it’s completely normal. It’s totally normal to have a sassy cat who appears and disappears at will. Animals who walk, talk, and are sometimes part of the court? No big deal. Magic is everywhere in Hearts, and it’s just a part of the routine. I think it works best that way, too, because it allows the reader to feel just as off-kilter as Alice probably did when she first came through the looking glass.
Aside from the fantastical elements, though, at its heart, this is very much a classic YA story. There’s a love triangle (sadly a very lopsided one). There’s a young girl who has a talent but is unable to follow her passion to do more because of societal norms. Honestly, if you didn’t know that Cath was going to turn into a villain at the end, you might find the whole thing a bit cliche.
But this is where Meyer’s talent at mixing all of these pieces comes in. She perfectly blends the fantastical with the character moments, the action with the snappy dialogue, the mythology with romance. And then she goes a bit further to give us hints at what this world is. Suffice to say, it’s not just Hearts that exists in Wonderland, and there’s more to this story than just one kingdom.
The romance. Wow. There were moments when I actually thought I was reading a romance novel because it was SO swoony. Even though it started off as a bit of insta-love (Cath and Jest are attracted to each other really fast), this ended up being a slow-burn where you are just desperate for them to just TOUCH each other.
I do have one complaint about the book: it seemed like every male character in Hearts was immediately in love with Cath. There’s the King, who barely knows her but has decided she can be his wife. There’s Jest. Then there’s the Turtle at the Hatter’s tea party. And Cath, of course, sees herself as just a girl who likes to bake. It just grated a bit because I felt like she was far too unaware of her own charms – to the point of naivete.
Overall, though, Heartless is a compelling read, and one that normally wouldn’t have gotten me because it’s so weird at moments. But I loved that there were always little mysteries about characters and about the world to solve. It was those moments, plus the romance, that really kept me going.
Cameos: Everyone you want to see from Alice in Wonderland is here, in many iterations. I especially enjoyed Meyer’s take on the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and croquet. SO FUN.
Drool-Inducing Food Descriptions: OMG, the descriptions of food had me hungry constantly through this book. You have been warned.
The Final Word:
A lush fantasy/fairy-tale prequel, Heartless by Marissa Meyer is a book for people who like to revel in the details. Usually, that’s not me. But the way that Meyer takes the Alice in Wonderland story and breaks down pieces of it while teasing what’s-to-come is really impressive. She tantalizes you with just enough twists and turns while preserving iconic moments and characters. Although I had a few issues with the characters, Heartless is a fun, unique, and worthy prequel for Alice in Wonderland.
HEARTLESS comes out on Tuesday, November 8, aka tomorrow! Will you be reading it? Are you a fan of the Lunar Chronicles? How about Alice in Wonderland? Let me know in the comments and you could win a copy of Heartless for your own shelf!
So I really enjoyed this book, and since I won a pre-order from someone, I wanted to spread the love. So here it is, one copy of Heartless by Marissa Meyer to anyone who can accept a Book Depository shipment! Good luck!