Review and Giveaway: Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino

I’m super excited to share this review of the fourth book in the Villains Series by Serena Valentino. Check out my thoughts and be sure to read to the end where you can enter to win the first four books in the series plus a branded mug that changes color in hot water. (Check it out in the prize pack picture below. It’s so cool.) Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for sending me a set of VILLAINS books, and for providing a prize pack!

Mistress of All Evil (Villains #4)
Serena Valentino
Disney Press
Published on October 3, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Mistress of All Evil
The tale is told as if it’s happening once upon a dream: the lovely maiden meets her handsome prince in the woods. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the maiden finds out that she is a princess-a princess who has been cursed by a dark fairy to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. Though her three good fairies try to protect her, the princess succumbs to the curse. But the power of good endures, as her true love defeats the fire-breathing dragon and awakens the princess with true love’s first kiss. The two live happily ever after.

And yet this is only half the story. So what of the dark fairy, Maleficent? Why does she curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil.

My Review
The book started out a little rough for me. It introduced a lot of characters I wasn’t familiar with who I think feature in earlier books in the series. So if I’d read from the beginning, I probably would have had a better frame of reference. Without that, it took me a while to figure out who the odd sisters and Circe were and why they were significant to the story.

The other tricky thing for me was that at times the story jumped around a bit, and I wasn’t always sure I followed what was happening. At one point the story references Princess Tulip as (I think?) Aurora’s daughter and I didn’t understand how that could be. Probably I misunderstood the reference or it’s better explained in an earlier book in the series.

Once I got my bearings, I enjoyed the way the book explained some of Maleficent’s history and wove together the stories of other villains in other fairy tales. That definitely made me want to read the rest of the series. In fact, a couple of times I almost put down Mistress of All Evil in order to go back and get the full backstory on some of the other fairytales. I especially found the story behind Snow White and her relationship with her stepmother compelling. Totally have to add that to my reading list now.

On the whole, I found the concept for the series pretty cool. I liked that it went above and beyond the facts and elements present in the familiar Disney fairy tales to create a larger whole story world connecting them all. I’d recommend starting with the first book in the series if you can, just so you don’t have the confusion I had at the beginning. I think especially younger readers would find that off-putting. Fans of Jennifer Donnelly’s Deep Blue should check out this series.

Mistress of All Evil on AmazonRecommended for Ages 9 to 12.

Cultural Elements
As in the fairy tale movie, it seems like most of the characters are white. Maleficent, as in the movie, has greenish skin, though here it changes color with her mood.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Infrequent use of mild profanity.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief references to kissing, marriage, or betrothal between a prince and princess.

Spiritual Content
Maleficent grew up in Fairyland with lots of other fairies, like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, the three good fairies who protect Princess Aurora, and the Blue Fairy who guides Pinocchio.

Several reference to nameless gods. Maleficent finds a ruined castle which she learns was once the home of the god Hades. She never meets him but hears about him from her goons, creatures who were once his servants.

Violent Content
Brief descriptions of Ursula’s death and the battle between Maleficent (as a dragon) and the prince who wants to rescue Princess Aurora.

Drug Content

Mistress of All Evil on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Serena ValentinoAbout Serena Valentino

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Serena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade. She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling Villains series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of All, The Beast Within, Poor Unfortunate Soul, and Mistress of All Evil.

About the Villains Series

The Disney Villains series by Serena Valentino explores how the antagonists in Disney movies became some of storytelling’s most iconic villains. In the first four Villains books, we see how the Evil Queen, the Beast, Ursula, and Maleficent fall into darkness, through the instigation of the mysterious Odd Sisters: Lucinda, Martha, and Ruby.

Enter to Win the Villains Prize Pack

Mistress of All Evil Prize Pack from Disney

One winner receives a copy of the first four books in the Villains series and a branded mug that changes color in hot water. Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

22 Responses to Review and Giveaway: Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino

  1. Ken C says:

    Thanks Kasey for hosting this giveaway, we are all looking forward to reading these books, my kids and I love to read.

  2. Breanna Pollard says:


  3. Keri Justice says:

    My favorite Disney villian is Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I imagine they all have pretty intense back stories. I don’t think someone would just wake up and decide to be evil, there has to be events and circumstances that made them that way.

    • I think out of all four of the books in the Disney Villains series, I’m most curious about Ursula’s story. It’s the third book, and I hope to read it soon! Hope you get a chance to check it out, too, Keri!

  4. Ishita says:

    Mine has to be Scar from the Lion King..

    I pretty much love everything about the Lion King.. It used to be played during our “Library Reading Hour” every week during middle-school lol… So it is quite a memorable part of my childhood

    • Yes! Another fantastic Disney villain. My daughter was in a local production of The Lion King over the summer and the kid who played Scar was amazing. Gotta have a strong villain in a show like that. Thanks, Ishita!

  5. Angela Hendricks says:

    I love Maleficent! She seems like a complex character to me and if I won this prize pack that would be the first book I read!

  6. Ken C says:

    I like Rattigan from the Great Mouse Detective, gotta love Vincent Price singing

  7. Sherrie Cruson says:

    Maleficent is probably my favorite Disney villain but Ursula is the villain I really want to read about. I would love to know what her backstory is. I imagine it would be pretty complicated.

    • I agree! I really want to read the third book in the series about Ursula’s story. There are some references to it in Mistress of All Evil– stuff that only made me more curious. Thanks, Sherrie!

  8. Maria Malaveci says:

    My favorite is Maleficent especially the version with Anjelina Jolie!

    • I’m always impressed when a story takes pretty two-dimensional villain (like the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz or Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty) and re-imagines them as a heroine. That’s some serious creativity! Thanks, Maria!

  9. Tammy V says:

    I love Yzma from Emperor’s New Groove. She is hilarious in her attempts to be bad.

  10. This book sounds cool. I love reading villain stories – seeing what made them they way they are. And awesome giveaway!

  11. Steph says:

    My favorite Disney villain is Oogie Boogie. I wonder what his deal is. The basic who, what, why, where, when, & how would suffice. He seems to be a complex character with some sort of gambling problem. 😉