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Review: Evil Thing by Serena Valentino

Evil Thing by Serena Valentino

Evil Thing (Villains #7)
Serena Valentino
Published July 7, 2020

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About Evil Thing

From her lonely childhood, to her iconic fashion choices, to that fateful car crash (you know the one), Cruella tells all in this marvelous memoir of a woman doomed. Even the cruelest villains have best friends, true loves, and daring dreams. Now it’s Cruella’s turn to share hers.

This latest novel by the author of the wildly popular and darkly fascinating Villains series brings readers a tale told by the Evil Thing herself-a tale of the complicated bonds of female friendship, of mothers and daughters, and of burning, destructive desire.

After all, nothing is as simple as black and white.

My Review

EVIL THING wasn’t the story I expected. This is the second book I’ve read in the Villains series by Serena Valentino. I read and reviewed MISTRESS OF ALL EVIL in 2017.

Especially early on in EVIL THING, I felt like Cruella De Vil was as likeable as Lady Mary from Downton Abbey. She was dismissive and sometimes cold, but there were a few people she loved. Her relationship with her mother was complex and tragic. I liked getting to explore her relationship with Anita and learn more about their history.

Some things appear murky in the story. Cruella receives a pair of jade earrings from her father that are rumored to be cursed. He thinks of this as a fun story to amuse her, but she wonders if the curse could be true. It’s never really clear if the curse is in fact a part of what drives Cruella De Vil’s manic behavior. It seemed like there were a lot of losses that, when combined together, drove her over the edge.

Overall, this was a pretty quick read, and a story that actually makes one of Disney’s most bizarre villains surprisingly sympathetic and reveals an interesting origin story. I think fans of the Villains series will be pleased with this newest book.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.

All the characters live in England. Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently (less than a half-dozen times).

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing between man and woman.

Spiritual Content
Cruella’s father gives her a pair of jade earrings that are said to be cursed. He thinks it’s simply a good story, but whether the curse is real remains unclear. Cruella seems to have mixed feelings about whether it’s real.

Violent Content
Some descriptions of a fire that destroyed a home and killed more than one person.

Drug Content
Some scenes show adults drinking alcohol with or after dinner.

Note: I received a free copy of EVIL THING in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.

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

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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.

Recommended 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

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About 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

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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