This book focused on the origin story of the Queen of Hearts, or Catherine Pinkerton as she is known as in this novel, a young girl much desired by the King and with rich, noble parents who have one need: to see their daughter become queen. However, Cath has her own ideas. We learn of her search for love, despite her inevitable destiny to marry the King, and her search to realise her dream of running a bakery, which is simply inconceivable for a young woman of her class. In Wonderland anything is possible, but at the same time very little is. Just to note- this book is in no way linked to the Lunar Chronicles (highly recommended by the way 🙂 ) by the same author, it is a standalone novel.
The characters were very well developed, realistic and perhaps most importantly, interesting. Cath herself was relatable- we all have dreams that may not always be straightforward to achieve- and as well as this, provided a way in to really connecting to the monstrosity who is the Queen of Hearts. It is a hard job to make a character like her be someone you back throughout the story, yet I think Meyer achieved this in this novel. But Cath wasn’t the only well developed character, there was also Jest, Mary Ann, Hatta, Margaret… the list goes on. But for now, I will talk about Jest, the love interest in this book. He could easily have been quite a one-dimensional character, but instead he was intriguing from the start, and not all that predictable. When Jest was showing Cath all the madness and nonsense of Wonderland, it was like he was revealing it to us, the readers, too. He was also likeable and an overall interesting character.
Next, the plot. For me, I felt the book could have been better paced. I get that Meyer was setting the scene for us, letting us get to know the characters and be immersed in Wonderland, however I felt the first half was a bit slow. It felt like she was saving up all the action and excitement and plot twists for the last quarter. That being said, the plot itself was unpredictable and exciting…when it actually got to it. But I think she did well in coming up with an acceptable and satisfying backstory for this very well known character.
Leading on to the retelling/origin story aspects, I think they were managed very well. I think it must be very possible to have either too much of the original story or not enough, but Marissa Meyer has already shown us her capability in this area with her fantastic Lunar Chronicles series and this book had just the right balance of originality combined with almost nostalgic reminders of the inspiration- Alice in Wonderland. We are treated to a Mad Tea Party, as well as many other nods back at the original, including Hatta and Haigha, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, respectively. I also loved Cheshire! He was just so perfectly presented here and added extra enjoyment to reading this novel.
I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking for an entertaining and original, yet nostalgic, journey back into Wonderland, however don’t expect another Lunar Chronicles, because although this was good, it didn’t quite live up to the expectations that those books set for this author. But it is still worth a read and I look forward to reading whatever Marissa Meyer releases next.
/ 5 hearts