“Impossible is my specialty.”
This review works in conjunction with my review videos so make sure you watch them too!
SPOILER FREE SUMMARY
OH BOY DO I HAVE SO MANY FEELS ABOUT THIS BOOK. SERIOUSLY. LIKE. SO MANY MIXED FEELS. So much so that I have no idea what to even rate this book. Like, on the one hand, there was a lot about it that I didn’t like (including simple things like that I didn’t think the writing was great) but on the other hand I can’t help but feel that a book that evoked such a strong emotional reaction from me has got to have done something right, right? Ugh. I don’t know.
Anyway, Heartless 101. Heartless is an origin story for the Queen of Hearts in Alice In Wonderland. The Queen’s name is Catherine and at the start of the book she is a young noblewoman who just wants to start a bakery. Needless to say, things don’t go so well for her plans.
So, for the the first 75-80% of this book I was reading it and quite enjoying it, I felt invested in the plot-line, I felt invested in the characters, and I was enjoying the world-building. And if things had continued as they had for that first part I probably would only have docked points off my rating for the writing because the writing made me cringe a lot at times, and maybe for the characterisation because I didn’t think Catherine was a particularly strong character. But honestly that was the only thing that I felt was negative for the first part of the book.
BUT THEN EVERYTHING SHIFTS FOR NO GOOD REASON. And what was supposed to be an origin story feels like two separate stories about two different people. Like, the book is supposed to be a journey from POINT A to POINT B, right? POINT A is Catherine at the start and POINT B is Catherine at the end (a.k.a. the Queen of Hearts) and that journey needs to be connected, you need to see how the character progresses and changes to get to the end point. But that didn’t happen. You get POINT A for the first 80% of the book and then you get a random inexplicable shift in character and you get POINT B for the rest of the book and no real understanding of why. And it just didn’t make any sense and it made me SO ANGRY because everything before that was going so well.
Anyway, I should stop rambling because I say all of this again in my spoiler free and spoiler filled reviews and I’m just repeating myself. But that, in a nutshell, is why I gave this book a three star rating: the plot was good, the Alice references were great, but the writing was cringeworthy, and the characterisation didn’t make any sense. Hooray.
*cue sarcastic flag waving in the style of Monty Python*
“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”
“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”
“Fascinating, isn’t it, how often heroic and foolish turn out to be one and the same.”
“I am not empty. I am full to the brim with murder and revenge. I am overflowing and I do not think you wish for me to overflow on to you.”
“There was a time” – Cheshire yawned – “when you overflowed with whimsy and icing sugar. I liked that Catherine better.”
- How did you feel about Mary-Ann’s decision to talk to Catherine’s parents in the middle of the book?
- Do you agree with Catherine that she could have lived with Mary-Ann dying?