Synopsis (From GoodReads):
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. 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 a secret courtship.
Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
There seem to be many novels that are based on famous children's books, lately. There is Dorothy Must Die (The Wizard of Oz), by Danielle Paige, Everland (Peter Pan) by Wendy Spinale , and Furthermore (Alice In Wonderland) by Tahereh Mafi. All of these books offer a new take on a classic. Heartless, by Marissa Meyer, also has an unusual take on Alice In Wonderland. This book explores how the Queen Of Hearts became so inhuman. While there was much to love about this book, it's inevitable ending was a downer.
What I Liked:Characters:
Cath is the girl who will eventually become the infamous Queen Of Hearts. Everything about her life was chosen for her. She was told what to wear, eat, and behave. I loved that she wanted to rebel, not get married, and open a bakery with her best friend, Mary Ann. Cath had spirit and dared to dream of a life where her choices mattered.
I have read other reviews that claimed that she was annoying because she did have the choice to run away with Jest throughout the book, but I disagree. Cath was stuck in a situation that would have been terrifying to leave. To leave the nobility would probably mean a shorter lifespan, one of hard work and uncertainty. It is easy for others to say she could leave at any time, but the reality would be truly frightening to Cath.
Jest is short for Jester and he was a complicated character. As with many entertainers, Jest was able to make pithy social commentary about the nobility and disguise it as jokes. His flirtation with Cath is maddening. Does he actually like her, or does he have an hidden motive?
This is the "Mad Hatter" character. He creates amazing hats, but is hiding from Time. He knows his family legacy is for him to go insane, but he is trying to fight it. I loved his fierce loyalty to Jest and how his actions have unintended consequences.
Use Of Alice In Wonderland Characters:
There are many clever references to other Alice characterssuch as Mr. Caterpillar being the cobbler, The White Rabbit as the King's advisor, and little asides about the Twiddle twins. I liked finding these little treasures throughout the novel.
What I Didn't Like:Sir Peter:
Sir Peter is the Peter from the nursery tale, Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater. While I thought the use of this tale was very clever, I was uncomfortable with the way the lowly Peter was perceived by the nobility. They saw him as a dirty farmer. He was right to be bitter about his treatment. But what does this say about our notions of the poor (or formerly poor)? The characters treated him as a shiftless, ignorant, uneducated, ill-mannered man. Treating him as beneath them, the nobility act as though he isn't really human.
I had trouble getting through this book. I knew from the beginning that Cath would turn into the Queen Of Hearts (and all that meant), and I was dreading it. I really liked Cath's character, and I didn't want to see her change so drastically into a monster.
All of the characters seem to have a Fate already determined. It was disheartening to see that all their efforts were futile. It was like watching an ant toil for hours, only to have someone casually demolish it at the end.
While I know that this was the ending that had to happen, couldn't there have been a twist? I thought Lady Merle might somehow actually turn out to become the Queen (her personality fit the description better than Cath's). But it simply wasn't to be. This ending left me depressed for Cath.
Everyone seemed to end up with terrible lives. There was no hope at the end, not even a glimpse of Alice. For this reason, I am deducting some stars.
Release Date: November 8th, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Read With Tessa GoodReads Group
Recommendation: A solid adventure but with a bitter ending. I would definitely get this from a library, but wouldn't but it.