Published by Macmillan Audio on 11/8/16
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some violence)
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
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.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it lived up to every single one of my expectations! I loved every delightful Wonderland reference, and I was incredibly intrigued to find out how Meyer imagined sweet Catherine would turn into the despicable Queen of Hearts!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Catherine’s transformation. When the book starts out, Catherine is an incredibly sympathetic character. It’s hard to imagine how this sweet girl who dreams of being a simple baker turns into the infamous queen who screams, “Off with their heads!” at regular intervals in the Lewis Carroll classic. From the very start, we are given a strong connection to Catherine—we see her drive to escape a life she hasn’t chosen for herself. Though Catherine has been brought up a lady, the daughter of a marquess, she would give up her land and her titles for the chance to do what she really loves. When she finds out that the king wants to marry her, she’s shocked and rather appalled. She has no interest in being a queen and isn’t at all attracted to the king. When she falls for the court joker, it’s obvious that the romance is doomed from the start—we all know she becomes queen—but the journey there is fascinating and I couldn’t wait to find out what makes Catherine change so completely. I also loved the small references to what was to come—how Cath’s love of baking hinted at her becoming the rather plump queen we see in the Disney movie (and her sadness about her mother’s jibes about her weight), references to the famous “Off with their heads!” line, etc. All of these little details added fun and depth to a character we loved to hate in the classic.
- The romance. Jest quite literally brought magic to Cath’s life and he was a breath of fresh air in her stifling world. Of course, I found myself wishing that they could somehow end up together, but knew it was not going to be. The book kept me guessing as to what exactly was going to happen between Cath and Jest and how that heartbreak would lead to Catherine’s transformation to the angry and unstable Queen of Hearts.
- Well-loved characters. The book is full of them. From the Chesire Cat, who starts out as Cath’s friend and confidante, to the Mad Hatter, to the bumbling King of Hearts (who is portrayed as childlike and a bit dim, much as he was in the Disney movie version). I loved seeing Meyer’s imaginings of these characters and how they ended up as the characters we saw in the classic!
- Food! Get ready for lots of descriptions of the most scrumptious desserts you could possibly imagine. Warning: Don’t listen to this book on an empty stomach!
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- Slightly slow bit in the middle? There was a section of the middle of the book that focused almost entirely on the romance, and even though I enjoyed the relationship between Cath and Jest, it was hard to be entirely invested in them since I knew how it all turned out. In that small middle section, Cath went back and forth a lot between what she wanted and feeling guilty about wanting to escape her life—and knowing that it would be nearly impossible to turn the king down if he actually proposed. There was a tiny part of me that felt the waffling went on a bit too long, but this was a VERY minor quibble in an otherwise amazing book!
I LOVED every second of the narration of this book!!! It was easily the best audiobook I’ve listened to. I now want to rush out and listen to anything narrated by Rebecca Soler. She gave such life to these characters, and the fun voices and accents that she used were fantastic! The general narration was done in an American accent, which surprised me since the book is told in Cath’s POV and all of Cath’s dialogue is done in a British accent, but I found that I actually loved this style because it made the dialogue (including Cath’s) stand out more and really pop. I honestly could go on and on about the narration—I highly recommend the audiobook version of this one!
If you’re a fan of Wonderland or retellings, you will relish Meyer’s richly imagined story of the Queen of Hearts beginnings. I give this book 5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this audiobook from the publisher in an exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Check out a clip of the audiobook here!
About the Author: