Cold Hearted: A Tale of the Wicked Stepmother

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

Lady Tremaine travels to her best friend’s house to relax and unwind. She chooses to leave her two daughters behind after they had acted impishly, taking only her lady’s maid, Mrs. Bramble. While at the friend’s house, she learns that her friend has set Lady Tremaine up with Sir Richard of the Many Kingdoms. After a few conversations, Sir Richard proposes marriage and request Lady Tremaine and her daughters come at once to his chateau. While initially Lady Tremaine believed that she had found a love match and that she would get to live in the same manner as she did in England, she learns very quickly that Sir Richard has a completely idea. He only wants Lady Tremaine to be the glorified housekeeper while he spends her money he won upon their marriage. Slowly, Lady Tremaine begins to fall into a complete tailspin, which shows us that not only Cinderella was the victim in the situation.

Nanny and the Fairy Godmother receive word from Cinderella that she is concerned for her stepsisters. Looking back at the events that led to Lady Tremaine’s time in the chateau, they have to make the decision on whether they will help the two sisters or not.

I don’t think I have ever read a book where they make Cinderella out to be so mean. Listen, I get that in a lot of ways, that was caused by her father, but Cinderella was not the greatest person in the world as we were led to believe. Also, her father is a jerk. Like major jerk, trying to censor myself level jerk. I do think it is important to note, while I totally empathize with Lady Tremaine, I feel like we kinda ignore the stepsisters. I mean, they are colloquially known as the “ugly stepsisters” and that isn’t cool. It is interesting to me that we see that they had to go through all of the house cleaning and seem unempathetic to Cinderella doing ALL the work that the two of them did together. That to me says they don’t deserve the help they receive.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Villains Series by Serena Valentino

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read:9/11/21-10/30/21

How I Found It: Amazon

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

Ugh, this is so cute. These books are supposed to be the origin stories for all of the Disney villains. At the time of writing this review, there are 8 books in the series. I know that there is supposed to be 1 more book that will come out during the summer of 2022. I am not sure if that will be the last one, but it is the only date I have seen for future additions. I am also reading these in the order that is listed on Goodreads. If that order is wrong, please bear with me, I have never read the series before.

Firstly, the amount of thought that went into the production of the books is INSANE. The jackets are a matte black which isn’t the most child friendly because they will hold any oil that is on your hand and look kinda gross, but it is a very beautiful cover. The jacket has a version of the villain and the hardcover has another version of the villain. For example, on The Fairest of All, the Queen on the jacket is beautiful, but underneath, the Queen on the hardcover is the old hag that had the apple. Absolutely beautiful and so unique, I am definitely a huge fan of that decision. It is also really cool because these books are published though Disney, so they have insanely accurate drawings from the movies, which also makes them *chef’s kiss*

Secondly, the pages are a little on the thick side. While that makes them great for children because they will hold up better for fast turners, it does make it a little awkward for adults who read often. I understand the purpose, but it is a little awkward until you get down with the thickness.

UPDATE: The next book of the series is going to be about Captain Hook. It is called Never Never and will be released in July 2022. There is no update on whether this will be the last book in the series.

Edit: The next few sections were listed on another post, but moved to this one. These are my thoughts on the series as a whole.

Firstly, the age range I most commonly saw for the series was 12+. I would say that is more or less accurate. There are times where it felt like the writing was a little immature for that age, but there were other times where I felt like there were more adult themes that needed to be considered (things like suicidal thoughts/ murderous thoughts, depression and other mental health illnesses, etc.). I think that overall, middle school age could probably handle everything that is presented in the books. On the flipside, the books do sometimes feel difficult to read as an adult. The writing feels simplified at times, so while you can read it as an adult, it is hard to stay into the book in my opinion.

Secondly, let’s talk about what is “worth it” in terms of the series. The first 6 books in the series feels like it completes the series. If you wanted the one book leads to another feeling, you can stop buying after the 6th book. The 7th book, Evil Thing, is really its own book. Other than being about a Disney villain, it plays absolutely no role in the series. Cold Hearted uses all the main characters of the series, but it is more of an added story than a continuation. All in all, buy the first 6 books if you want a fluid series, buy all of the books if you want the nostalgia factor.

Thirdly, if I was an editor, what would I like to see next? I already know that the next book is going to be about Captain Hook, but I don’t know how Valentino plans on incorporating his story with the others. I hope that the next book is at least similar to Cold Hearted in the sense that the main characters (Nanny, Circe, the Odd Sisters, etc.) play a role in the story. That was one of my least favorite parts of Evil Thing, in a lot of ways it felt like a waste to the series. I have a feeling that we are no longer going to see the results of Circe’s death, though I do hope that eventually we will get a book that continues that narrative. The question becomes what villain can you use to get that story acrossed, or has that ship already sailed?

In the scheme of things, I would say that the series as a whole is probably a 3.5 out of 5. There are some things that I would have done differently, but it was enjoyable and had good qualities. I think that it is a unique idea and I am excited to see what comes next.

Books in the Series

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen

The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince

Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch

Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy

Mother Knows Best: A Tale of the Old Witch

The Odd Sisters: A Tale of Three Witches

Evil Thing: A Tale of that De Vil Woman

Cold Hearted: A Tale of the Wicked Stepmother

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!