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Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino

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RATING: 3/5

BLURB: “What of the Dark Fairy, Maleficent? Why does she curse the Princess Aurora to fall into an eternal sleep?

Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled from those passed down through the ages. It is a story of love and betrayal, magic and fantasy. It is a tale of the mistress of all evil.”

REVIEW: As a Disney fan and reader of all of Valentino’s previous novels on the Disney villains, I was looking forward to reading her take on the story of Maleficent, who is one of my favourite villains. I enjoyed instantly the links to Valentino’s previous novels, as the story opens where the last novel (‘Poor Unfortunate Soul’) left off, with the funeral of Ursula taking place and the Weird Sisters placed under a sleeping spell by their younger sister Circe. Other links to the previous novels occured throughout this tale, including the return of the characters Grimmhilde and Snow White, as well as Princess Tulip and Prince Popinjay. The return of these characters really added to the story; particularly the return of Nanny, who serves as a focal character in this novel in particular. We learn that she was once Maleficent’s adoptive mother, having found Maleficent as a young fairy abandoned in the Fairylands due to her green skin and growing horns. Maleficent was able to lead a happy childhood with Nanny, despite opposition and hostility from other members of the fairy community including Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, who essentially act as the high-school bullies of the story. From reading of this backstory, Maleficent becomes a highly empathetic character, as readers begin to understand the trauma of her past and the events which led her to become the Mistress of All Evil. In the present day, however, Maleficent has just put the Princess Aurora under a sleeping curse and seems determined to kill her, something she insists is for Aurora’s protection, though none can understand her motives.

When Maleficent’s motives are revealed, however, my interest in the novel waned slightly as this was the point where, for me, the plotline became just a bit too far-fetched. It is revealed that Maleficent is Aurora’s mother, and that Aurora was born of a magic spell invented by the Weird Sisters (through which they created their own daughter, Circe) in order to give Maleficent the company she craved after her magic destroyed the Fairylands and she lost all contact with those she loved. Maleficent soon realises, however, that Aurora will also have magic as she does, and rather than let it turn her daughter evil, she decides to put her into an enchanted sleep and attempt to kill her. I felt this whole section of the novel was stretched beyond what would be believeable purely to fit in with the traditional Disney storyline, and found that somewhat disappointing.

Overall, however, I still really enjoyed the novel and I loved the ending; it was my favourite yet of Valentino’s novels, despite the extraordinary plot. I am very much looking forward to reading her next Disney villains novel, which I believe will centre on Mother Gothel from ‘Tangled’.

 

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