The title of this book is a warning. I became heartless afterwards.
Don’t get scared of it, though, even though I just told you about the inevitable pain. As readers, we learn to expect the books to completely destroy us, so how is this book any different? It’s just one more book that will make us cry so hard that we will eventually enter into a drought. Unless you’re like me- who already entered the drought a long time ago. I cried dust instead from the rubble of my heart.
Modeled after the Queen of Hearts from the book Alice in Wonderland, Catherine is the sweet daughter of the Marchioness and Marquess. She is pined over by the king, much to the delight of her parents. But even though she is a noblewoman, she wants to have nothing to do with titles or royalty because all she wants to do is start a bakery- the best in all of Hearts.
However, pressure keeps building between her, the king, and her parents as the king desperately wants her to be his wife and her parents want her happiness- to be rich and a ruler- or rather, what they think leads to her ultimate happiness. But Catherine only wants the feeling of dough molding between her fingers, the fine dust of flour upon her arms, and the warm heat from the oven.
As the time before the day the king asks for her hand starts to lessen, she can see no way out of it without disappointing her parents and embarrassing the king. What’s even worse is that there is another factor pulling her away from her parents’ wishes- the irresistible charm and mystery of the court joker.
I screamed into my pillow several times while reading this book. Knowing the ending just made the ending so much worse because I knew that every action Catherine would take would eventually make her into the cruel Queen of Hearts. But also…knowing the ending made the ending more managable. If it had been unexpected, then I think my heart would have been shocked so hard that it truly turned to ashes.
I loved so many characters. The Mad Hatter (Hatta) and the Cheshire Cat were major characters, which made me so happy. For Hatta, his story was connected to Catherine’s because by the end, they had become their characters in Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. The Mad Hatter wasn’t always mad- though aren’t we all just a little mad?- and it showed his character development. Another character that I loved was Jest… OH JEST! Fictional characters like him are my krytonite because I am constantly scared for their safety and my heart clenches every time they’re in danger. Jest was such a flirt, but not a dumb flirt, if you know what I mean. He was clever and funny and everything that makes up a fictional crush for me.
Then…there are the annoying characters. First of all, I’d like to mention THE most annoying character- Catherine’s mother. The Marchioness was so blind to Catherine’s happiness and made me want to say OFF WITH HER HEAD! Then there was the king, who I started to imagine as the king from Wreck It Ralph after @beaulitful mentioned it. He was exactly the opposite of Jest- old, plump, and with the brains of a toddler. I cringed every time he danced with Catherine (on tiptoes) or kissed her hand. Ew.
The book has a lot of underlying plots, like the constant attacks from the Jabberwock, a creature known to carry off people to eat and that was believed to be extinct. These details made the book action-packed and kept me wondering, even though I knew the ending. It proves that even when a book is spoiled for you, it’s still possible to read it and love it even if you know what will happen.
I was so scared to start this book, especially because of the dire warnings from my friends. They told me it would leave me heartless, and they were right. But it was worth it in the end because it perfectly explained how the Queen of Hearts came to be that way- from a sweet baker to a kill-crazy queen. My heart is gone but its empty cavern is happy that I read it.