by Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: November 8th 2016
by Feiwel & Friends




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. 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. 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.


“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”

Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles quartet is one of my favorite series, so it’s no surprise that I have been highly anticipating her new standalone Heartless from the moment I first heard about it. And Heartless doesn’t disappoint.

All Catherine wants is to open a bakery with her best friend, but her mother has other plans for her future: making Catherine a Queen. At a ball where the King is expected to propose to her, Catherine meets the court joker Jest, and her life immediately turns upside down.

Catherine is an extremely relatable protagonist that is easy to sympathize with. However, there was something about her character that felt a bit lacking. Meyer’s previous book Fairest was also written from the perspective of a villain, and it was one of the most chilling and psychologically complex books I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, Meyer didn’t quite replicate that complexity and depth with Catherine, which caused her to feel a bit underwhelming as a character.

Additionally, there were lots of references to weight from Catherine’s mother that were a bit irritating:

Mouth watering, she lifted her dessert spoon. “Oh good heavens, no,” said her mother. “Don’t be absurd, Catherine. You’ll be mistaken for a walrus at the festival.”

It’s clear that Marissa Meyer has a gift for writing retellings, and Heartless is no exception. It’s an entertaining novel despite the few flaws it had. Fans of Marissa’s Lunar Chronicles series will not be disappointed.


80 thoughts on “Heartless

  1. I loved the lunar chronicles, so I’m interested to see what you thought of this. Villain origin stories can be a bit underwhelming-I felt like this with the Young Elites. I’m still going to read this, but I’m not desperate.

    1. It’s funny you mention the Young Elites because I absolutely LOVED that book and adored Adelina as a heroine. But I can definitely see what you mean. Let me know what you think of it when you do give it a try! <3

  2. I haven’t read the past couple of Meyer’s books for no particular reason other than I haven’t gotten around to buying them. That being said I am excited for her newest release. It sounds really interesting although I have noticed a couple of people saying that something seemed to be missing when they were reading so it sucks that you didn’t have a thrilling experience in seeing the development of a villain.

  3. I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS BECAUSE CAAAAKE. I’m like guaranteed to enjoy it, let’s face it. That’s sad Catherine is really evil enough though? I do like a good villainous villain, but as long as there’s enough cake to make up for it I SHOULD BE OKAY. hehe. Lovely review, Zoe! 😀

    1. Thanks Cait! And I’m really curious to see what you think of this one. Because I know how much you love Marissa Meyer and combining her amazing writing with cake sounds right up your alley. Thank you!

    1. OMG EMILY! Go read her Lunar Chronicle series! I know the hype is intimidating, but they’re absolutely amazing. 🙂 Thank you!

  4. Aw great review Zoe. Love how you worded things out! It’s kind of sad to see that Catherine wasn’t a completely perfect protagonist, but after all no other protagonists are completely perfect after all. It would’ve been better if she were developed into something more 🙂 I’m still looking forward to this book, since I love Meyer’s novels! Thanks so much for an amazing review! 🙂 I’ve always loved reading what you write.

    1. I hope you enjoy this Jillian, especially since you liked the Lunar Chronicles so much. 🙂 And thank you so much – you just made my day!

  5. I’m really looking forward to read this, so I’m glad to hear it’s not disappointing! I’m a bit sad to hear it doesn’t quite live up to Fairest though – that book was a fine example of how to create a complex character/villain. Glad you enjoyed it though, Zoe, and thanks for sharing your thoughts! <3

    1. I feel like if I didn’t have such high expectations from Fairest I might have enjoyed this a little more. 😐 But I’m curious to see what you think of it Cilla! Thank you for the lovely comment! <3

  6. I do so want to read this. I do find that having complicated characters can trip Meyer up a bit. Anyway, I’m still really looking forward to it! Thanks for your thoughtful review, Zoe.

  7. This sounds so intriguing! I enjoyed Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series so I’m excited to see how this book goes. A retelling from the point of view of the Queen of Hearts? It’s so interesting and different.

    I too really enjoyed Fairest, it made me actually feel sorry for the Lunar Queen. I know that the Queen of Hearts ends up being a villain though, which makes me a little reluctant to read this because I don’t like unhappy endings… ha.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    1. It is definitely such an intriguing and unique premise, and I think that’s what makes it such a strong book. Let me know what you think of it if you end up giving it a try! 🙂

  8. That’s great to hear! Marissa’s local to me so I’ve been to a few of her events, and she’s so sweet. I’ve been super excited to go to the launch for this book, and I can’t wait to see what Heartless is all about! Great review 😀

  9. Great review Zoe!! It seems like from all the people I follow, NO ONE I REPEAT NO ONE has given it a rating above 3.5 stars. I am disappointed. BUT I LOVE THE LUNAR CHRONICLES SO OF COURSE I WILL READ IT. I am still counting down the days to its release

    1. WAIT REALLY? I’m the opposite – I’ve seen mostly 4 and 5 star reviews. That’s interesting how everyone seems to have different opinions. I can’t wait to see what you think of it!

    1. Thank you so much Marie! 🙂 Definitely let me know what you think of Winter – it’s absolutely amazing. 🙂

    1. DEFINITELY read Fairest! It’s absolutely amazing and really shows Marissa’s gift for writing complex characters. 🙂

  10. Great review, Zoe! I’ve read this book too and would largely agree, though my main problem was more the romance than anything else. The book DOES feel magical in that sort of fairy tale way, but I dunno, I’m not 100% convinced by it. I did like it when Cath turned a bit evil, though I haven’t read any of Marissa Meyer’s other books (i.e. Fairest) so can’t really compare. 🙂

    1. I wasn’t really convinced by the romance either Reg – it just felt typical and I didn’t really feel any of the chemistry between Cath and Jest. 🙁 Definitely read her Lunar Chronicles series – it’s pheonominal!

    1. Thanks Vlora! My recommendation would be to still give it a try, but don’t make it a priority. Let me know what you think of it if you decide to give it a try!

  11. I’ve heard about this book. I have never read any of Marissa Meyer’s books but I do want to try The Lunar Chronicle series. I’ll do more research on this book, then.

  12. I am ashamed to admit that I have yet to read the Lunar Chronicles *hangs head in shame* Everyone is raving about Heartless, so I’m really keen to see how Meyer has taken the history of the Queen of Hearts, and paved out her past. Such an interesting concept!! Sorry to hear that you thought it fell a bit flat compared to the others in the series though, Zo. Lovely review! xx

  13. Ooh, I’m jealous. I can’t wait for my preorder to get here. After reading and enjoying Colleen Oakes’ take on the Queen of Hearts earlier this year, I’m really excited to see what Meyer does with it. Trying (and probably failing) to keep my expectations reasonable.

  14. Like you, I thought this book was quite underwhelming. My favourite parts were the description of the baked goods and the description of the world. I also thought Marissa Meyer did quite a good job on the use of language evocative of Lewis Caroll’s original version. The characters were really weak, though – I literally did not care for Jest or the central relationships.

    1. My thoughts exactly. It was an entertaining story, but there was so much more that could have been done with it – espescially in terms of the characterization and romance.

  15. I STILL haven’t finished The Lunar Chronicles, so I am kiiiind of on the fence about Heartless. And the fact that Catherine isn’t a super character makes me a little more nervous, since I find myself a bit “meh” to begin with. But, I probably will give it a go at some point, honestly, just to see what it’s all about 😉 Fabulous review!

    1. SHANNON! Finish the Lunar Chronicles series! Every book gets better and better and better and you won’t regret it. 🙂 Thank you!

  16. I was a bit worried that it was another Alice retelling but was pleasantly surprised actually. I loved it because it was light and fluffy and because there wasn’t too much depth of character. I felt as though I was starting to slump but it’s just what I needed. I still haven’t read Cinder, but it was a great introduction to her writing and looking forward to the series now. Brilliant review Zoe <3

  17. Thank you for sharing, Zoe! I’m still undecided if I’m going to read Heartless or not, because retellings aren’t really my thing. It comes out in 2017 in the UK, so I’m going to read a few reviews by then to help me make up my mind! ♥

  18. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone compare this one to Meyer’s Fairest. I really liked that one because you got such a clear look at who Levana was and the evil lurking within her. Despite not quite capturing that villaininess (not a word, I know) of the Queen of Hearts, I think I’ll still check this one out. Great review!

    1. I’m curious to see what you think of this one Alicia, and how you think it compares to Fairest. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it though! Thank you!

  19. I found books in the Lunar Chronicles to be a bit of a hit or miss? I absoilutely loved some, but disliked/didn’t love others…so I’m not too sure if I should read Heartless, but I reckon I’ll give it a go anyway! Sorry it disappointed with the villain aspect – I know I absolutely loved Fairest and I’m gutted to hear that Heartless doesnt have a villain like that!

    1. Regarding the Lunar Chronicles: I can definitely see how you might have had varying opinions for each book, and can admit that I felt the same way. Hopefully you enjoy this one if you decide to give it a try!

  20. Ehhh, I can’t decide whether to read this or not! I love the Lunar Chronicles, but I have no fondness for Alice in Wonderland. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually liked a version? If anyone could make me break that streak, it’d be Marissa Meyer, though. But if she’s not as effective in this as she was in Fairest… SIGH. I’ll continue to vacillate. 🙂

    Wonderful review, though, Zoe!

    1. Thank you Rachel! I’m definitely curious to see what you think of this if you decide to give it a try. Hopefully you enjoy it! xD

  21. I felt like there was something lacking in Cath’s character overall, as well. I just wanted more from her. More backbone and courage and defiance. I even felt like her transformation into the Queen of Hearts was quite abrupt and predictable.

    I really didn’t like the fat shaming in this book, and also how the character of the King was written off by every other character in the book. They were two things that I didn’t particularly like, and reduced my enjoyment of Heartless quite a bit.

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy it, Zoe!

    1. My thoughts exactly. She was a decent character, but – like you said – there was just something missing when it comes to her personality. It seems like we’re on the same wavelength about this one Chiara! 🙂

    1. Definitely give this a try, especially if you enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles. It’s not perfect, but it’s really entertaining. 🙂

  22. Great review Zoe! 🙂 I agree that something is missing from Cath’s character though I still enjoyed it. My main problem was the romance hahaha and I love how it feels so magical and so close to the real wonderland <3 I haven't read Fairest but I really want to! It's about queen Levana right?

    1. I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who felt something missing from her character. And I agree – the romance was definitely mediocre. Fairest is about Queen Levana and I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it already. 🙂

    1. BENISH! I feel like I haven’t talked to you in ages! Glad you’re back from hiatus and blogging again. 🙂 I hope you like this as much as I did! <3

  23. Love your review! Sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as you thought you might, though 🙁
    I got Heartless a few weeks ago and am hoping to read it later this month, but I’m really apprehensive cause of all the mixed reviews. Hopefully I’ll like it?! I really really hope so! And I look forward to the descriptions of food 😉

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