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Heartless: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description
Heartless: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
The following version of the book was used to create this guide: Meyer, Marissa. Heartless. Rampion Books, 2016.
Heartless, by Marissa Meyer, is the imagined back story of Lewis Carroll’s character the Queen of Hearts from his novel Alice in Wonderland. The story follows Catherine as a young woman who falls in love with the King’s new joker only to discover that he has been sent to Hearts for the purpose of stealing her heart.
The story begins with Catherine baking lemon tarts to take with her to the King’s ball. She loves to bake and is so caught up in it that she nearly forgets to get ready for the ball. She and her maid Mary Ann plan to open a bakery together one day, but both know that Catherine’s parents will not approve. They talk about their dream while Mary Ann helps Catherine dress for the ball. Mary Ann’s mother forces her to wear a red dress.
Catherine arrives at the ball to find that it is a black and white ball. Her mother made her wear red so the King would notice her. The King asks Catherine to dance, then goes to try the lemon tarts she brought for the banquet table. The King’s new joker arrives at the ball and entertains the crowd. Afterward, Catherine stands by the banquet table where she meets Peter Peter and his wife. Peter is a new member of the gentry, having been knighted after his wife won a pumpkin eating contest.
Cheshire appears at the ball and tells Catherine the King is planning to propose to someone. Catherine realizes it is her and leaves. She meets Jest, the joker, and his friend Raven in the King’s garden. Catherine faints and Jest wakes her with a white rose. Jest calls a carriage to take Catherine home.
Catherine goes to bed and wakes when she hears her parents’ carriage arrive. They are relieved to find her at home because a Jabberwock had attacked at the ball. Catherine’s mother, the Marchioness, is upset that Catherine is not engaged to the King.
Catherine and Mary Ann find out the cobbler is closing his store. They go to his shop to see if it would work for their bakery. Then, they go to the Duke’s estate to talk to him about renting the space from him. The Duke says he will allow it only if Catherine helps him to win Margaret Mearle’s heart.
Catherine goes to the palace for a tea party. She has rose macarons in her pocket to give to the King as a gift. Margaret is there and speaks ill of the Duke, but still seems jealous when another guest flirts with him. Jest comes over and tells Catherine the King wants to see her.
Catherine walks around the gardens with the King and they talk about the upcoming Turtle Days Festival that is hosted by Catherine’s parents. The King asks Jest to entertain Catherine. Jest convinces the King that he should court the girl he plans to marry before proposing to her.
Catherine plays croquet with the King, Margaret, and Jack. Jest flusters her when he talks to her about the King’s planned proposal. He says he believes the King truly cares for Catherine, but she insists the King does not love her. Catherine does not give the King the macarons she brought for him.
Catherine’s mother is upset that the King still has not proposed. She worries that he has lost interest. The King arrives at Catherine’s house and asks her father for permission to court her. Jest is with him and stands silently by.
That night, Catherine sees a white rose on her windowsill. When she opens the window, Raven and Jest are in the tree. He tells her that he convinced the King to court her because he thought she would prefer that to a proposal. Jest confesses that he has liked her from the moment he saw her at the ball. He invites her to a tea party at Hatta’s Marvelous Millinery.
At the tea party, Catherine meets Hatta, a hatter who makes elaborate hats. The guests at the party are expected to take turns entertaining. Jest gets on the table to perform and then magically disappears. While he is gone, Hatta and Catherine talk. Hatta tells her a riddle about a heart being stolen and makes it clear he believes that members of the gentry are foolish. When Jest returns, he tries to protect Catherine from having to perform. Catherine insists that she wants to perform. The talent she displays is her baking. She pulls the rose macarons from her pocket and hands them out.
The Jabberwock attacks the party. The guests flee Hatta’s shop and run towards the Crossroads where the Jabberwock will be too big to follow. The Turtle becomes frightened and freezes in the meadow. Catherine jabs him with a stick to get him moving. The Lion is taken by the Jabberwock.
Jest walks Catherine home. She talks about her love of baking. He tells her that he is a Rook in Jest and that it is his job to protect the White Queen. Catherine knows that her parents would never allow her to marry Jest because he is only a joker. She tells him they cannot see each other again, but Jest says he hopes to see her at the Turtle Days Festival. Mary Ann comes in just as Catherine climbs in her bedroom window. Catherine tries to lie about where she has been, but ends up telling Mary Ann all about Jest.
The King courts Catherine by sending her gifts and bad poetry. Sometimes she can tell that Jest has had a hand in helping the King. Cheshire appears and tells Catherine there will be a baking contest at the festival.
Catherine and Mary Ann go to Peter Peter’s pumpkin patch to get a pumpkin for the cake Catherine plans to bake for the contest. They find Peter carving a giant pumpkin into a building of some kind and hear scratching noises from inside the pumpkin. Peter refuses to sell Catherine a pumpkin, so she takes one from a burned pumpkin patch on her way out. She sees a carousel horse from the hat the Lion was wearing when the Jabberwock took him.
Catherine goes to the festival and Hatta gives her a hat with macarons on the top. Catherine wonders about the hatter that used to live in Hearts. Hatta reveals that the hatter was his father and that he went mad. He says the condition runs in his family, but he has a way to escape his fate.
Catherine goes to dance the lobster quadrille, which is her duty as the daughter of the Marquess. Jest compliments Catherine on her new hat and implies that the hat is somehow magical. The King arrives and Catherine tries to talk to him about the Jabberwock, but he refuses to discuss the subject. Catherine feels obligated to dance with the King. Afterward, people try to congratulate her and Jest saves her from the crowd.
Catherine goes to the baking contest. When her cake is presented, the King announces that he cannot judge it because he plans to marry Catherine. Turtle eats the cake and turns into a Mock Turtle.
Catherine asks her parents for permission to use her dowry to open a bakery, but they refuse. Her father tells her to drop the idea or he will fire Mary Ann. Catherine decides to approach Hatta and ask him to invest in her business.
Hatta is angry with Catherine because he believes she is toying with Jest. Catherine sees Turtle’s hat in the shop and accuses Hatta of being the cause of Turtle’s transformation. He insists he is not and reminds her that Turtle was the only judge to try her cake. He says that his hat did not cause the change, but that they do improve people. Hatta tells Catherine he is a royal messenger in Chess and that he has to keep moving to avoid Time so that he does not go mad.
The King invites Catherine to the theater. While she is there, Lady Peter approaches her and begs for more pumpkin cake. The Jabberwock attacks and Catherine pulls the Vorpal Sword from Jest’s magic hat. When the Jabberwock sees the sword, it flies away. Catherine’s ankle is injured during the attack.
Jest takes Catherine to the treacle well to be healed. He explains to Catherine that the Sisters are in charge of the well and the entrance to Chess, but that a person must be desperate to find the well. He also tells her that Chess is at war and the White Queen is useless, so he has been sent to steal the heart of a queen to end the war. However, Time played a trick and sent them too early. Catherine realizes he is there to steal her heart. Jest tells her that things have changed since he met her and they pledge their hearts to one another. When Catherine arrives home the King is at her house and her parents are furious. They all believe Jest kidnapped her. The King tries to arrest Jest, but he turns into a bird and flies away.
The King throws a masquerade ball to distract the people from the Jabberwock. Catherine goes to the ball intending to accept the King’s proposal so she can help Jest with his mission. Jest shows up at the ball and tells her he has a plan to make her a queen in Chess, which means they can be together and he can fulfill his mission. She leaves with Jest and they go to the Hatta’s shop. From there, Jest, Hatta, Raven, and Catherine go to the treacle well to ask the Sisters to open the maze.
The Sisters agree to open the maze and show them a picture they have drawn that shows the future. In the picture, Catherine is the Queen of Hearts, Hatta is mad, Raven is in his executioner form holding a bloody axe, and Jest has been beheaded. The Sisters tell the group they can avoid the fate by not going through any doors.
They enter the maze and walk for a long time. Eventually they end up back in the Crossroads, which is full of doors. One of the doors shows Peter’s pumpkin patch and Catherine sees Mary Ann in the window of a giant pumpkin calling for help. She goes to help Mary Ann and the others follow her.
Mary Ann tells Catherine the Jabberwock is Peter’s wife. Catherine realizes Lady Peter was transformed by the same kind of pumpkin she baked her cake with. Peter knocks Catherine down and Jest comes to her rescue. Peter says that everything is Hatta’s fault because he brought the bad seeds. Catherine kills the Jabberwock and Peter kills Jest in revenge.
Catherine returns to Rock Turtle Cove. After a few days, the Sisters come to her and offer her a chance to get vengeance on Peter for a price. They want the heart of a queen to sustain themselves. Catherine agrees and bakes a key lime pie to convince the King to marry her. She takes the pie to the King. She convinces the King to marry her.
On the day of the wedding, Catherine insists that the white rose tree where she met Jest be cut down and that all the roses in Hearts be red from now on. Catherine goes to visit Hatta wearing her wedding dress. He explains the story of the magic pumpkin seeds and that he was also in love with Jest. Catherine decrees travel between Hearts and Chess forbidden and Hatta goes mad.
On a day after the wedding, Catherine sits at court with the King and listens to the petitions of the people. Raven has been her companion since Jest died. The Sisters arrive at court with Peter in tow. They take Catherine’s broken heart from her chest. Peter is tried and found not guilty, but Catherine rejects the verdict. Raven transforms into the executioner and Catherine calls for Peter’s beheading.
This section contains 2,057 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)