When you’ve grown up around and believed certain fairytales, it can be difficult to imagine stories within those beloved stories; but, there is a darkness that lies within them. It’s the tales of the villains. Such integral parts of each narrative, but hardly ever discussed in detail.
That’s all changed thanks to author, Serena Valentino.
She has started with 3 villains, perhaps 3 of the most well known, but never discussed: Evil Queen, Beast, and Ursula. You go into these books, only knowing one version of them; the dark one. Soon, though, you start to feel for their stories and realize that, once upon a time, they weren’t villains and their stories are sad ones. These books are meant to be read in a certain order, and that’s how they’ll be highlighted.
Fairest of All: My favorite in the series and also the first you need to read. The Queen’s story starts out like a dream. She’s fallen in love with the King, who has a daughter, Snow. Their life is lived like a true fairytale, until the tragic loss of the King and an introduction by his three cousins, Lucinda, Martha and Ruby. Witches, mind you. Horrible creatures, who play a part in each book. They play into the Queen’s already established insecurity and trick her into killing the person she’s grown to love the most – Snow. We all know the story about her ending with Snow, but to get to that part, your heart must break. Throughout her story, you truly begin to understand the malice behind the Queen’s actions and how she ended up being a wretched woman. After reading this book, you may watch the animated film version of Snow White differently.
The Beast Within: This book played out much like the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. The prince was very self-absorbed and like the end of the film, you see that the villagers were closely tied into the castle once. Before he was turned into the Beast, one of his most precious friends and allies may surprise you. I’m not going to give away who it is, because it was one of the more uplifting and curious parts of the story. Without knowing it, Belle was introduced into his world once, but his selfishness and need for beauty in all aspects of his life, blinded him to the fact. I’ve always been partial to the Beast, thinking he paid the ultimate price for his actions, so seeing his story beforehand didn’t surprise me as much as the previous story, or even the one after. He ended up with his happy ending, so this one didn’t have me as emotionally invested. The only upsetting part of the entire book was seeing his dearest friend lost.
Poor Unfortunate Soul: Ursula’s story was the darkest of the entire series and starts out in a surprising way. There’s a lot of death and details that you would not expect to come from a Disney book. After reading the first chapter, I had to set the book down and adjust my thoughts to trying to accept that this is not like the fairytale I grew up. Ursula is a true villain, in every sense of the word. Like the villains before her, her story is sad, but I found it hard to even feel sorry for her because of her actions that followed. There was absolutely no redemption for the choices she made and the ones she hurt in the process. Unlike Triton, who has a small speck of evil in him throughout this story, redeems himself in the end, whereas Ursula is evil from the time she was a little girl to her death. This was my least favorite book of the entire series, except for one single thing…
The series has introduced us to new characters! I’ve mentioned the three sisters, Lucinda, Ruby and Martha. They’re sly witches, who get bored easily and like to meddle into the fairytales we’ve grown to love. They accomplished bringing down the Queen and Ursula, but luckily, their fourth sister, Circe, stopped them from ruining the story of Belle and Beast. Circe, being the youngest of the 4, is the sweetest and purest. She has no evil in her and tries to tame her sisters’ wicked ways many times. There’s also the princess Tulip Morningstar and her nanny, who are quirky characters and appear in The Beast Within and Poor Unfortunate Soul. Something about Nanny is revealed in the last book, and more about her is to come in the next trilogy that Valentino is working on.
After reading these 3 books back to back, I can honestly say that I’m very pleased with the stories about the villains we’ve always heard of, but never really known. Valentino has since released a story about Maleficent and will be releasing two more: one this summer, about Mother Gothel, and the next in 2019, villain unknown. Personally, I can’t wait to see where these stories take us next and I’ll be sure to include you in the narrative!