An origin story of the Queen of Hearts… written by Marissa Meyer aka the queen of retellings…with a gorgeous cover… well, I wasn’t exactly going to pass up the opportunity to read the e-book when it came up on NetGalley.
Lady Catherine Pinkerton wishes nothing more than to run her own bakery with one her household’s servants, but a life baking delicious treats is no life for the daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove. In fact such a life would be impossible when it becomes clear that the King of Hearts intends to propose to her. It’s a good job then that she runs into the King’s new mesmerizing court joker when she escapes before the proposal can take place, who just happens to be a specialist when in the impossible. Oh, and not to mention that he is literally the man that she has been dreaming about recently. With her fate seemingly set in ink on stone, can Catherine and Jest defy the odds and find a way to be together?
This story certainly was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. Each moment of happiness and delight is balanced with first anguish and anxiety, leading to sadness and anger as the book reaches its conclusion. The journey from a relatively carefree young noble to a fiery ruthless monarch is one that makes perfect sense as the author sets out to provide an explanation for why the legendary Queen of Hearts acts as she does in Lewis Carroll’s classic story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Now, I have to admit that I haven’t actually read any of Carroll’s works and so my Alice knowledge is very much based on the Disney films, but Meyer has done a wonderful job of including Wonderland’s most well-known characters (Cheshire is a particular favourite of mine). Likewise the oddness of Wonderland as a whole feels authentic and true to the original with Meyer inserting her own creations seamlessly.
The forbidden (or should that be inexecutable – see what I did there?) romance between Catherine and Jest is heartbreaking. I fell for Jest as quickly as Catherine did, and knowing that there was little chance of a happy ending was not enough to stop me in cherishing every flirtatious interaction between them. And so inevitably by the final chapters of the story I was hoping without hope that things would end a different way.
It therefore seems fitting to round off this review with Cheshire’s final line – “But hoping is how the impossible can be possible after all.”