Ominous portents in Auradon send the offspring of four Disney villains home—to discover that their evil parents have disappeared.
De la Cruz picks up the plotline roughly where it left off at the end of the 2015 TV film Descendants. Spurred by mysteriously delivered threats and also the discovery of an Anti-Heroes Club posting to a surreptitious Dark Web, Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos (more-or-less reformed children of, respectively, Maleficent, Snow White’s Evil Queen, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil) steal away from Auradon Prep’s Castlecoming dance to check out their old haunts in the villains’ island enclave. From there, events dissolve into a confused tangle. After much buildup, the supposedly hostile club turns out to be composed of worshipful groupies (who explain at length how “anti-heroes” are actually cool). A message that the vanished ’rents have collected talismans that will magnify their evil powers sends the four teens in pursuit—to encounter a monster with “huge fanged teeth” and find, confusingly, that the talismans are somehow still in place and ready to be gathered up. A familiar purple dragon laying waste to Camelot’s suburbs turns out, anticlimactically, not to be Maleficent but another, much more easily overcome shape-changer. Even the characters know all this is phoned in: “What are we going to do,” says Carlos, “when they tell us what their evil plan is?” The continued absence of the grown-up baddies, plus a spate of earthquakes and violent weather, remains to be resolved in future sequels.
Likely, like its predecessor, to be a fixture on bestseller lists—but not for its imaginative or literary qualities. (Fantasy. 10-13)