Isle of the Lost
Melissa de la Cruz
Available May 5, 2015
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Mal, the daughter of Maleficent, and her best friend Jay, the son of Jafar, live on the Isle of the Lost, where their villainous parents were banished from the fairytale kingdom of Auradon twenty years ago. Surviving on leftovers shipped in from Auradon and prevented access to magic, the villains scrape by. But all long for the day when the magic returns and they can take revenge on those who imprisoned them. For Mal, that day comes when Carlos, Cruela de Vil’s son, creates an invention that sparks changes in the Isle, and the possibility of escape seems just within reach. Oh, also the possibility of destroying her longtime rival, Evie, the Evil Queen’s daughter. So that’s a plus.
The team of four have to work together—a tall order considering they’re better versed in how to trick and betray one another than they are in how to actually be friends. Some parts of the story show the point-of-view of Prince Ben, son of Belle and the Beast (wait, isn’t he a prince now?) and the trials of his coming of age and beginning to take on some royal responsibility. Strange dreams connect him and Mal, but they don’t know each other yet.
My daughter and I enjoyed reading the Ever After High books by Shannon Hale, so I picked this book up at a book fair thinking it was similar and we’d also enjoy it. And I was right—I did enjoy the story. I think I had the same experience with Ever After High books, where because I’d read Shannon Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days, I wanted that kind of finesse in the EAH books, too, and it’s just not that kind of story. So that happened here, too. I’ve read The Ring and the Crown, and the writing and characters are a lot more complex, so it took some adjusting for me to get into this book. They’re totally different kinds of books, and that’s okay. I just had to adjust.
I thought the story set up the series well. The end leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and shows some real growth on the part of the team of four villains. Carlos is totally my favorite. He’s so sweet and super smart. I loved that de la Cruz worked in the engineering element with his character. So great!
One noteworthy difference is that Ever After High pulls its storyworld from a broader spectrum of fairytales, whereas Isle of the Lost draws its characters from those in Disney movies. I can see that as being a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at things. Overall, I think readers who enjoyed Ever After High would enjoy Isle of the Lost.
Often fairytale retellings are pretty white, but I love that de la Cruz went a bit diverse with her story here. Carlos is the Latin son of Cruella de Vil. Jay is the Middle-Eastern son of Jafar.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
The islanders live off of leftovers and garbage shipped in from Auradon, so some of that stuff is kind of icky. For instance, they eat old wilted food and stuff like that. Nothing crude per se, but kinda ick.
Jay has a reputation as being a player. He flirts with a lot of girls, but nothing beyond that comes into the story.
The Isle of the Lost exists under a dome that prevents the villains from using magic, but magic begins to make its presence known.
Because the characters are the children of villains, their homes are generally unhappy. Their parents treat them cruelly—mostly in the way they speak and withhold affection. (Sad but not really violent, I know, but I thought it worth mentioning.)
At a party, one character encourages the others to do shots of toad’s blood. It’s unclear whether this causes any intoxication or is just a silly/gross challenge.
My kids LOVE the Descendants, I think taking a look at these common tales from another view is a great idea. They both love to read so to keep them interested this idea works great! My oldest is reading Frances Crossno’s book Cole’s Perfect Puppy and she absolutely loves it. She struggles at times with friends at school, and being 10 isn’t easy. So if this might be something your kids like I recommend it. francescrossno.com is her site. An easy book to recommend!
Thanks, Annie. I’ll have to check that one out!
I was surprised that I liked this novel as much as I did, as I initially thought it was going to be relegated to the teens-only camp. But I really enjoyed the book’s focus on the nefarious children of some of Disney’s best villains. (Though I know this is a tie in [as opposed to an entirely original novel] to the Disney Channel movie, “The Descendants,” which I watched after reading this and, much to my surprise, actually enjoyed. While some of the musical numbers were borderline cheesy for me, I thought most of the songs were pretty solid and the story itself was fun.) I’ve never checked out the Ever After High books but I might give them a look-see. I’m not in the typical demographic for these types of books, but I do love me a good, fun, fairy tale-inspired romp. Enjoyed your review! 🙂
Thanks, Nicole. I haven’t seen the movie, though my daughter has. She liked it, and I’m sure I’ll see it at some point. 🙂 I hope you like Ever After High if you read them. Another great series like this that I didn’t think about as I was reviewing is the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. It’s not based on specific fairytale characters, I think, but it does have the same type of idea, that characters are either good or evil and go to a special school to learn all the things. I think the writing is better and the stories more complex, but I’ve only read the first book. I remember liking it a LOT.
Okay, so glad you enjoyed it. I don’t think it is my cup of tea, but I totally trust your review. I definitely see a trend. As a writer, I don’t know what to make of it. Keep informing us, please.