My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The tale is told as if it’s happening once upon a dream: the lovely maiden meets her handsome prince in the woods. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the maiden finds out that she is a princess-a princess who has been cursed by a dark fairy to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. Though her three good fairies try to protect her, the princess succumbs to the curse. But the power of good endures, as her true love defeats the fire-breathing dragon and awakens the princess with true love’s first kiss. The two live happily ever after.
And yet this is only half the story. So what of the dark fairy, Maleficent? Why does she curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil.
Mistress of All Evil takes place directly after Unfortunate Souls. So if you’re like me and haven’t read Unfortunate Souls in some time, I highly recommend rereading at least that one to refresh yourself. Like the first 3 books in the series, Mistress of All Evil not only gives you an origin story of the well-known Disney villain, but unique to this series is that they are all tied together by the three Wicked Sisters.
Finally, we are given more back story to the sisters, why they act very much insane, and why they have been known to cause trouble in each installment of this series. Naturally, Valentino gives you a villain back story that makes you pity them and how they became evil. She ties in direct quotes of Maleficent from the Sleeping Beauty movie to bring a sense of familiarity while also creating a unique story line. Familiar lines are being drawn to characters and how they are connected, ensuring that every character introduced is not in vain.
Valentino provides the back story of who Maleficent was as a child, her relation to the well known crows that faithfully follow her, and what went wrong to make Maleficent so evil. I quite pity Maleficent. She was orphaned and taken in by Nanny (look to the previous stories if you are unfamiliar with her), bullied and harassed by the 3 “good” fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, and stereotyped by “Miss High and Mighty Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.” Maleficent only wanted to be a good fairy and earn her own child to be godmother of. Her sudden change to evil is akin to the 3 Wicked Sisters and their sudden change to insanity. They too are given more back story in Mistress of All Evil. They were once so sincere and loving-so much so that they were revered by Maleficent and dear friends of Nanny.
Slight spoilers lie ahead…
All magic comes with a price.
Their characters become twisted though by magic. The 3 Wicked Sisters were once not wicked. But their want for love and their own child leads them to cast a spell that creates a fairy from their own powers. But the child they create also takes their best qualities, as one would hope that their child inherits their best qualities. Maleficent is also victim to this price. The 3 sisters think that they can help Maleficent and give her greater happiness after she is turned down from the Fairy Godmother program by the head (Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo) Fairy Godmother. They try to take the best qualities of her and giver her her own daughter. But its not insanity that becomes of her, like the 3 sisters, but pure evil. She becomes “the Mistress of all Evil” as all her good is taken from her and put into her daughter as part of the spell. In a way, this pure evil fogs her mind, preventing her from thinking reasonably and leading her down the evil path we all know from the Disney tale. She has one moment to redeem herself, but the cloud of evil takes over and leads her to her ultimate demise.
Why must a young girl need a man to save her? Why can’t a princess fight for her own life, break her own curse? Why must it always be a prince? By Hades, I want to kill Prince Phillip on principle, just so we don’t have yet one more prince kissing some helpless sleeping girl, making her feel like she has to marry him out of gratitude.
Don’t be fooled by this wonderful and honest quote though. It is exactly what we all feel, but Valentino sticks to the Sleeping Beauty storyline and has the traditional prince awake the sleeping beauty, unlike Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent that awakes Aurora with her kiss.