on November 8th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Published by Feiwel & Friends
“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.”
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book or not.
On one hand it is Alice in Wonderland which is my favorite fantasy world ever. I liked this author’s Lunar Chronicles.
On the other hand, it is Alice in Wonderland which will make me extra mad if it gets all screwed up.
For the first 75% of this book, it was glorious.
Catherine is a privileged daughter in Wonderland. Her only allowable aspiration is to make a good marriage. She has a different goal though. She wants to open a bakery and make tarts with her maid as her marketing guru and business advisor. Unfortunately, Catherine’s cooking has attracted the eye of the ineffectual King of Hearts. Now that a courtship is on the horizon, her mother devotes herself entirely to making sure that Catherine becomes Queen.
There was word play and appearances by most of the beloved Wonderland characters with just the right amounts of whimsy. I was rooting for Catherine to find the nerve to stand up to her mother and say that she wasn’t going to be Queen. Obviously, that doesn’t happen since this is the backstory to the Queen of Hearts, but a plausible explanation is built up to see how she could become Queen and still not have it go in exactly the direction that you thought it would.
And then it happened. (Obviously, spoilers ahead). Catherine is given a glimpse of two futures. One where she continues with her rebel plans and one where she doesn’t. What happens if she rebels isn’t clear but it is very clear that if she turns back, everyone with her will either die or suffer terribly. Almost immediately, she decides to turn back. What? It isn’t even 5 minutes after the ominous warnings from spooky little seer girls and already you choose the stupid route?
Ok, ok, she turns back to help her maid. I could make a case for the needs of the many not always outweighing the need for a single person if I absolutely had to. I still think it is overwhelmingly stupid and I had to set the book aside for a few days to let my hot white burning rage simmer down but I eventually pushed on. Guess what happened next?
Everything the little freaky seers said about everyone will suffer and die was true! Who saw that coming?
Yeah. They literally just said it a few pages ago. I mean, I read those pages a few days earlier and yet I still managed to remember. It was way less time than that for Catherine but she was surprised. Seriously, if a trio of mystical fortunetellers shows you the deaths of people standing next to you and you choose to ignore them, you don’t get to go off all crazy like someone tricked you. You don’t get to feel like you are entitled to righteous indignation because of the consequences of your misguided actions. You really shouldn’t expect people to feel all sorry for you when you immediately decide to abandon all your ethics and previously deeply held principles. Yes, immediately our previously tart-loving, nonqueenly Catherine decides that the only thing to do is to seize control of the throne by marrying the King and turning into a tyrant. Because…. trauma, maybe? She’s suffering so everyone else must suffer too? I don’t really know. It didn’t make much sense in the book either. It was like it suddenly decided to say, “Yep, and now she’s evil. Ta da!” It was completely out of her character.
The ending wouldn’t have made me so mad if the beginning hadn’t had so much promise. Has anyone else read this one? Am I the only person who it turned into a boiling ball of rage?