November 2-4, 2018
Written by Sarah Minazzo
Serena Valentino’s Villains book series explores the other side to some of Disney’s well-loved Princess stories. Each entry explores a particular villain’s tragic backstory and their side of the story we don’t know. The series consists of four books covering the stories of The Evil Queen, The Beast (may not be considered a villain per say, but his past suggests otherwise), Ursula and Maleficent. Interestingly enough, these entries are not stand alone. There is a story arc that spreads across the four and underpins the series as a whole whilst creating a Disney Princess universe, where each of these stories and characters coexist in a particular timeline.
Having said that, the first of the series is the Evil Queen’s entry, Fairest Of Them All. It introduces new and plausible concepts for her misdeeds through her background and under enchantment. This also starts the underlying story arc of the three odd sisters, Lucinda, Martha and Ruby, with their little sister, Circe. The sisters are cousins to Snow White’s father and are very much the anti-thesis of the Three Good Fairies of Sleeping Beauty. Their personalities and their moving house lend cleverly from fairy tales in the same way as Disney films do, which is clever of Valentino.
Their story and the concept of the tragic backstory for these villains and misunderstood characters continue to its next entries in The Beast Within and Poor Unfortunate Soul. In the Beast’s entry, the story arc doesn’t really comment on its previous events, although the character development of the little sister, Circe, is integral to the later entries and is imperative to the Beast’s story. As for Ursula, there is much revelation in family ties and her origins however much like the other ideas on offer throughout, it fits in rather well to the existing films and its fairytale roots. This third entry leads at a cracking pace straight into the series’ finale.
The final and recently released novel, Mistress Of All Evil, is the longest read of the books doubling the other books’ page numbers. With a fantastic topic like Maleficent and with loose ends to tie, this is somewhat befitting. Again, Maleficent’s past is tied into the main story arc and her story is one of rejection and tragedy. This version of her backstory will be more welcomed to those who aren’t big fans of the live action Maleficent film. Admittedly, with the flashbacks of the Fairy Academy one can’t help but be reminded of the Disney’s Descendants series. Perhaps Valentino was inspired by it?
Overall, the series makes for an excellent easy read for Disney fans. The series’ themes, however, would deem the novels more appropriate for preteens and up. If you’re looking for a fairytale full of rainbows and sunshine, this is not written for you. This is a series full of magic, tragedy and redemption, which will please any Villains fans.