Maleficent has always been, is, and will always be my favorite Disney villain: horns as a headdress, flowing purple and black robes, ability to create a curse so powerful it could only be admonished and not broken, her dragon nature, her sharp quotes... What's not to love about her? And here, we love her not only as a villain but as a girl, who despite her fairy nature, and her witch heart, was very human: a young girl with the desire to learn, the love of books, a strong desire for independence and her brave attitude when she faces rejection or bullying. Maleficent speaks and acts for every high school student, person of color, minority being rejected for their differences.
A new ''charming '' setting in the Many Kingdoms is the Fairylands, place of birth of many winged creatures such as our dear Maleficent but also the trio from Sleeping Beauty, the Blue Fairy from Pinnochio and the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. The book is longer than the three previous ones, it allowed creating the perfect balance between The Odd Sisters storyline, the wrapping of Ursula's story, the past of Maleficent, and the maelstrom of problems the Many Kingdoms have to face. Between a strange book of fairy tales that seems to prophetize everything that is written and Maleficent's commanding request to make sure Aurora never wakes up from the sleeping curse, readers will be enchanted by the expansion of Serena Valentino's worlds, the introduction or exploration of new characters and the Disney crossover: Indeed, Maleficent hated Ursula, and shares a strong like with the Evil Queen. Snow White learns about Aurora's condition and tries to find a way to save her with a surprising ally, while our sleeping beauty joins the club of the princesses tortured by the Odd Sisters, displaying however more bravery than we could have given credit for.
From the back and forth between past and present that some might compare to the episode construction in OUAT, and the idea of giving an entire chapter of the story told by Maleficent herself, it's easy to connect with her and see the transition between the bookworm of the Fairylands and The Dark Fairy of the Forbidden Mountain. Fairies play definitely a role as crucial as witches in this novel and if their differences are Highline, it's worth noticing at least two characters from Mistress of All Evil are a mix of both statuses.
*An important thing about plot twists is their coherence, before shock value or anything else. Here, there is a mix of both as the reveals make sense but still shock the reader. Maleficent's link to Aurora is a satisfying one answering the following question: Why Maleficent was so furious about not being invited to her christening? I definitely didn't see that coming. I assume Aurora was going to be her charge during the Fairy Exams but things are always more complex than it seems. Some might argue that there is still a strong resemblance between Aurora and Queen Leah but I feel it only helped for the adoption part.
*A tiny piece of myself felt there was a connection between Maleficent taking her exams on her 16th birthday and Aurora's curse's year but once again, it wasn't the right idea. The possibility of Aurora having powers ( with the one of turning into a dragon among them) was definitely an exciting one and I hope we'll be able to see what would have happened if she had kept them if things would have been as horrendous as it was for Maleficent. You got to love the irony in this tale: the three fairies raising for sixteen years the living proof that Maleficent was good once even though they saw her as anything but evil.
*The inability of Maleficent to forgive Nanny is heartbreaking, as it isn't a question of will but of means, the spell that created Aurora took that powerful part of her away too, the one to stop blaming someone for a mistake from the past.
Rating: 5 out of 5 spinning wheels.