By Jessica Goodman
November 11, 2016 at 12:00 PM EST

In her new novel, a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Lunar Chronicles author explores the Queen of Heart’s early life: What, exactly, made her so murderous? In Meyer’s reimagining, teenager Lady Catherine Pinkerton—the best baker in all of Hearts—is the kind of girl who’d rather whip lemons into tarts than marry a king. But her life is upended when she falls in love with Jest, a mysterious joker who harbors dangerous secrets. Through wild tea parties with the not-yet-Mad Hatter and terrifying trips through the looking glass, Meyer evokes the best whimsies from Lewis Carroll’s classic while giving the Queen of Hearts a backstory that may soften her most fearful haters.