By Cynthia Bujnicki
Who was Maleficent before she was the Dark Fairy? Why did she curse Aurora? Here is the tale of dark fairy, passed through the ages. Here is the tale of Maleficent, who she was and how she came the Mistress of all Evil.
Published October 3, 2017, by Disney Press Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy by Serena Valentino is the fourth installment in the Disney Villains series that tells the true story of some of Disney’s best villains.
Mistress of all Evil takes place not to long after the events of Poor Unfortunate Soul and succeeds where the previous novel failed. Whereas the previous novel glossed over the abuse that Ursula suffered, this new novel does not shy away from the ostracization and bullying that Maleficent suffered at the hands of the “good” fairies. The way that this novel address bullying is very thought-out because it focuses a lot on perception and behavior and it analyzes prejudices as a foundation of bullying. It was beautiful how it functioned and structured the story in a way to tell the story and give Maleficent an elaborate backstory.
Readers got to know who Maleficent was before she became the dark fairy. It is a beautiful twist to the backstory of Maleficent and offers much insight to her character and the three good fairies that would eventually be Aurora’s guardians. There is this world that exists between the fairies, a backstory that makes their dynamics more powerful. There is history here, a dark history that changed who Maleficent was and set the course of fate in a path of Maleficent’s destruction.
What makes this story and this series so good is the way that Valentino takes liberties with the storytelling. There is nothing in this novel that takes away from the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty. That story still exists without tarnish, but instead, there is more history and backstory to it to make what happened in the film even more impactful. It also explains so much of the previous novel.
Let’s say this: read the previous novels before reading this one. These novels intermingle with another one, and even where some of the novels are a little lackluster, the history and the way they are all brought together in this novel makes them worth reading. Alone, they are not worth much, but together, as a series, they hold steady. There are details in the previous novels that are significant in this novel and to the overall story going on here. Moreover, the odd sisters, these characters seem to be the children of Valentino’s imagination, and they fit perfectly in the series. As antagonists, they are interesting, and where they came from is finally explored. Valentino finally reveals the key to their dark descent, and it is a great plot twist.
Valentino has a way of making her elements fit very well in Disney’s universe. Maleficent’s story is also one of the most influential stories in the series next to the first novel in the series. The characterization and backstory are all so well thought out and defined, leading the story to be impactful. Admittedly, the details to the final climax seemed a little forced and almost felt like they did not fit, as if Valentino wished she was not about to write what she about to and failed to realize she had to return to the Disney film, so it felt a little anticlimactic. It was bittersweet, but given the depth of the story and the history, it leaves the reader sad that the story was forced to end the way it did. (★★★★★ | A-)