Marisa Meyer is known for her Young Adult fairy tale retellings. Her first novel was the NaNoWriMo phenomenon Cinder, the story of a cyborg sort-of Cinderella and the start of the Lunar Chronicles sequence, which includes new versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meyer’s work, however, is very loosely based on the fairy tales—she develops new worlds, brings in new characters and does not use the classic familiar plot lines. With Heartless, her first stand alone novel, Meyer takes us back to when the violent, furious Queen of Hearts was a warm, sweet young girl who wanted something more—albeit smaller, simpler and full of sugar and butter—than what was on offer for her.
Catherine is just another young well to do girl with hopes and dreams. Society demands that her hopes and dreams be specifically about getting married to the wealthiest man she can, but she has other ideas. Even though it seems that the most eligible bachelor in the kingdom is rather interested in her, Catherine would rather be baking professionally. She and her best friend and lady’s maid have grand plans of running a bakery in town, though they have yet to work out just how they will manage this financially and remain socially acceptable—this is the Kingdom of Hearts, where societal norms are Victorian, where magic is part of the every day, where Catherine’s most vivid dreams lead to great trees of fruits and roses growing in her room, and where the King would very much like her to be the Queen of Hearts, and give up this silly nonsense of selling cakes for ever.