Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
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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.
I was lucky enough to borrow an ARC copy of this book from my dear friend Jen @ jennifer_f_santucci. Thanks so much Jen for the opportunity to read this – I’m so grateful and I loved it so much!
The World Building
I have never read the original Alice in Wonderland. My familiarity with this world comes from the Disney animated film, AG Howard‘s dark and twisty version in her Splintered series, and the Once Upon a Time spin off show that was one season long. Based on this background of what Wonderland might be like, I feel like Marissa Meyer totally nailed the world building. The wonderland in this book was whimsical and nonsensical – exactly how I would imagine Wonderland to be. Although, now that I think about it, I don’t believe the world is ever called Wonderland. It’s referred to as the Kingdom of Hearts instead. I loved this world and I wish this was a series so I could read more about it.
Since this is an origin story of the Queen of Hearts, I assumed going into it that Catherine (who I knew was the future queen) would be a terrible person that I would hate her right off the bat. Instead, I found myself really liking Catherine and I was surprised to find myself emotionally connecting with her. Her main struggle throughout the story is whether she should make herself happy, or make her parents and everyone else happy. I think anyone who has struggled with a choice like this will really connect with Catherine, just as I did. This is the type of origin story I was expecting when I read Fairest, which is the origin story for the villain for The Lunar Chronicles series. It’s the type of villain origin story where you learn why the villain is the way she is and you completely understand it. While I loved Catherine the most out of all the characters, I loved all of them! Catherine and Jest are definitely one of my new OTPs. 🙂
The first half of the book is mostly build up and sett up of the characters and world. I wasn’t immediately grabbed by the opening of the story, but I was intrigued and interested enough to continue. Around the middle of the book, the pacing picks up and the plot really starts moving. From there, I could hardly put the book down because I needed to know what was going to happen next. I know that Catherine and her main love interest fall for each other rather quickly, but I thought it was romantic and I SHIPPED IT SO HARD. I was very invested in Catherine and her future. The twists and turns at the end of the story were totally agonizing to read and I cried buckets. I felt like not only was my heart broken but Marisa Meyers had stomped on it (really hard LOL). Although on one hand, I knew how the story HAD to end, a small part of me was holding out hope that the story would end a different way. My emotions went through the ringer with this book and I definitely had a book hangover after finishing.
Overall, I LOVED this book so much more than I was expecting. I loved the world and the characters. I was so invested in Catherine that I wanted her story to end differently than how I knew it had to end. This book put me through a rollercoaster of emotions, despite how quickly the love interest developed. Marissa Meyers did not disappoint me with this one and I can’t wait to read more from her. I recommend this book to fans of Alice in Wonderland themed books and those who love villain origin stories!
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