Task the Ninth: The Happy New Year- Every year you get a little bit older! Read a coming of age novel or any old favorite comfort read to start the new year right.
I have to say hands down this was a book I really needed right now. It had everything in it. Great descriptions of food, people, places, romance, betrayal, death, etc. I was honestly shocked that I loved this more than the Lunar Chronicles. I adore the Lunar Chronicles, but the world building was always where I thought that series fell short. Since Meyer has the wonderful backdrop of Wonderland to use, I had no complaints about world building this time through.
This is a standalone novel (man I really want a sequel) showing how the Queen of Hearts, became the Queen of Hearts. Most people who read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass know the Queen of Hearts hated white roses, yelled off with your head, and seemed to rule her kingdom with an iron fist. Meyer's book takes a look at who this woman was before she became queen.
Cath, is a young woman living in the kingdom of hearts. She has a dream to open a bakery with her servant and close friend Mary Ann (I smiled when I saw that name, and knew of course who this character was) and does not want to get married. Of course things start to go wrong when Cath wakes up after dreaming of a boy with golden (lemon colored) eyes and finds a lemon tree right next to her in her bedroom. Taking these lemons, she proceeds to make lemon tarts that she wants to serve at the King of Hearts Black and White ball in order to get people talking about her wonderful desserts. Cath walks into a ball where she then meets a boy that looks like the same one from her dream and finds out he is the The King of Heart's new jester named Jest.
The entire book really is Cath doing what she can to prevent the King of Hearts proposing to her and starting to fall in love with Jest and daring to dream the impossible (that she can be with someone who sees her and she can open her bakery). Cath is fighting an uphill battle with her close friends and even her parents who want her to fall in line and do what is expected of her. You get to read some old fashioned patriarchy in this book with even Cath's own father thinking that a woman has no right to own or run a business. And being the wife of the King is the best thing she could ever wish for. I honestly feel like Meyers was taking a swipe at those that believe that the most a woman could ever aspire to is to get married and have children. We get to see what happens when Cath finally does buckle under, and it's not great.
We get to meet characters familiar to those who read the Lewis Carroll books (we meet the Mad Hatter here called Hatta) the Jabberwocky, Cheshire cat, the Mock Turtle, the sleepy door mouse, etc. I loved the backstory to Jest and Hatta and heck even on the Jabberwocky as well.
I thought the writing was really great from beginning to end. I also got very hungry while reading this book. The way Cath describes her desserts made me want chocolate cake, tarts, pie, chocolate with sea salt, etc. So this book will definitely perk up your appetite so be warned.
The flow I thought was great from beginning to end too. I think the book worked in so much of Carroll's work (in a good way) but managed to also make it new.
The setting of the Kingdom and where Cath lives and grows up, Hatter's store, etc. were just great. I could actually picture all of these places. I would so love to see a big screen or television version of this book. And coming from me that is saying a lot. That's because I am 9 times out of 10 disappointed when books are adapted to the big screen.
The ending of course that we all know is coming, does come. I just love how Meyers got us there. And how if you are paying attention, you hear mention of a girl who has somehow fallen into Wonderland. So from there you can imagine the next phase of the story.