Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen. Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. 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 an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a story I love even though I was a bit disappointed with the actual book some years ago. Who doesn’t like getting lost in Wonderland? I loved Meyer’s take on the world and this origin story of the Queen of Hearts. It’s a story I didn’t even know I wanted.
As soon as I started this book, literally the first page, I had to take a note saying how much I was already enjoying the writing. It was beautifully descriptive without being flowery or over the top and was just so lush and detailed. There was so much personality to the writing, too. The pastries described in this book… I wish I had a mountain of them in front of me. The writing and dialogue, along with basically every other aspect of this story, were whimsical and fun without overdoing it and becoming annoying. I love her writing so much. I think the pacing of the novel could’ve been improved, though, because it did feel a bit slow at times. It’s important to point out that even though parts of the story felt slower, it never dragged or felt boring. Strange and wacky things were always happening in Hearts and I was hooked from the start.
Much of the plot is about how Cath doesn’t want to marry the King and wants to open a bakery. This is a strongly character driven book since it’s really about how Cath becomes the madwoman we all know as the Queen of Hearts. Knowing how Cath would end up didn’t ruin the story at all because it was still so intriguing following her story. I love that this is the origin story of a villain because she’s so relatable and easy to root for throughout the story. She’s understandable and I really loved seeing her slight changes grow into something irreversible. The back and forth between her dream of a bakery and trying to find a way to convince her parents to support her in something other than marrying the king was compelling, especially with the strange and wondrous happenings and places Jest introduced her too. It’s easy to see why Jest was so completely compelling in Cath’s eyes but I did wish her development was less dependent on him. There were certainly other driving factors that played a large role, but it really came down to Jest. She lived in Hearts and was used to a lot of the whims of Wonderland, but it seemed she only started to have experiences with strange things once Jest stepped in. Maybe he was a catalyst for it all but Cath was a girl with a dream and I would’ve liked her ambition to play more of a role in her own downfall. The Jabberwock provided some level of mystery and action, but it was also pretty predictable. I thoroughly enjoyed the story but I wish there was more to it. More action, more impossible happenings, more madness from Cath. It could’ve had a stronger plot.
I loved Meyer’s take on the classic characters readers are already familiar with, mainly the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. I think she did a great job with everyone’s personalities—I would read a book about her versions of those two characters in a heartbeat. They’re extremely fun and entertaining. Mary Ann, Cath’s best friend, fell a little flat because she was just a normal, boring person. Jest was intriguing, too, though not worth the level of Cath’s admiration in my opinion. Although, compared to the King…I get it. I liked Cath throughout the whole novel, but especially at the beginning. I enjoyed how she often got lost in her own wild fantasies and let her mind wander a little too much. She was sweet and easy to like, but as the story progressed I couldn’t help but feel a little impatient and annoyed with her inability or unwillingness to do anything for herself. I almost don’t want to say that because that’s part of the point—she herself gets frustrated with her lack of control over her life but I just wanted her to get past the whole pleasing her parents thing and tell everyone to back off. She became a stronger character as we neared the end but I hated what happened between her and a good friend of hers. I knew she’d become mad and brutal in the end, but I wish she hadn’t taken out her anger on her friend that she’d known forever and dreamed up a life with because of a guy she met weeks ago. Bleh. Otherwise, I thought the development was good. Cath’s descent into a madwoman felt a bit rushed near the end, though. I just wish it had been for a different reason. Smaller characters, such as her parents and the King, were appropriately infuriating—and therefore enjoyable.
I really liked the novel. It wasn’t perfect—it could’ve had more action, more madness and a stronger plot but I still liked everything I read. I absolutely loved Meyer’s writing. It was so easy to get wrapped up in and to fall headfirst into Hearts right alongside Cath. I think she did a great job creating her own version of Wonderland while staying true to the heart (ha) of the original. It was whimsical, unpredictable, and so entertaining.
Thanks for reading,