Stale Seaweed | Review of ‘Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch’ (Villains #3)


By Cynthia Ayala

Poor Unfortunate Soul by Serena Valentino
Disney Press
Image Credit: Goodreads

“The tale of the sea king’s daughter Ariel is a beloved one of losing and then finding one’s own voice. The story has been told many times and in many ways. And yet this is only half the story. So what of Ariel’s nemesis, Ursula, the sea witch? What led to her becoming so twisted, scorned, and filled with hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account of what might have shaped the sea witch into a detestable and poor unfortunate soul.” —Amazon

Published July 26, 2016, by Disney Press Poor Unfortunate Soul by Serena Valentino is the third novel in her young adult Disney Villains series.

Man, what a letdown. When you pick up a book about such a great villain, there is always this question of what made them become the villain, what is their motivation. This novel provides inklings about what made Ursula become the villain, something more about her origin, but the author, she doesn’t touch any of these. It’s unfortunate. This is a novel that could have been so powerful. Ursula was abandoned, she watched her adoptive father murdered because she was different and then she was verbally abused by her brother. These are all the key issues that could have really given the story some history, some backstory. Instead, these tough subjects are just brushed against, making the story lackluster. There are scenes from the little mermaid in the novel, and while it’s fun to hear the “Poor Unfortunate Soul” song play in your head while reading, if any reader wanted to just watch the movie, they would just go ahead and watch the film. This novel is incomplete. It doesn’t show the reader how Ursula became herself. It lacks depth as it glosses over these tough subjects.

Then there is the story itself, the way it functions. It’s a mess. There is absolutely no cohesion to the story as it shifts back and forth between blips of Ursula giving hints about her past and the injustices she faced. Then there is the addition of this princess whose name is so forgettable and her own dealings with the Ursula. It doesn’t fit. Who is this princess, why is she important? She’s not. Her part to play in the story, it makes absolutely no sense at all to anything! It is such a disappointment especially after the strong opening this novel had you think the story is going to explore that pain. But the reader just glimpses it and replays so many scenes from The Little Mermaid.

There are so many ways this could have been something incredible, a way to get to know Ursula before she became the sea witch. Those little blips that the author throws in, those should have been the story. Those aren’t just blips for the character, they are her scars, and Valentino just ignores them and instead tells a story that doesn’t have heart or depth to it.  (★★☆☆☆ | C-)

Product Details:

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

Page count: 196pp

Age Range: 15 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2405-7

Publisher: Disney Press

List Price:  $17.99

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