Despite frequently inelegant prose, the story will probably please series fans.



From the Villains series , Vol. 4

Disney’s Villains series’ fourth installment highlights Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent.

Maleficent turns to the villainous witch trio the Odd Sisters for aid finding Aurora. Although they were lost in the land of dreams after Poor Unfortunate Soul (2016), they give enough advice that Maleficent succeeds in the spindle plot. But Maleficent needs Aurora gone for good, so she abducts Prince Phillip and seeks the assistance of two other powerful witches, Circe and Nanny, to ensure Aurora never wakes. The connections with the previous books of the series (including periodic recaps and reminders as well as appearances by Princess Tulip, Snow White, Queen Grimhilde, and more) as well as the back story shared among Maleficent and the other characters are told in lengthy, sometimes-clunky expository passages and flashbacks. The nonlinear plotting allows for forward plot progression on the storyline with Circe and her sisters, as well as a metafictive one about a storybook. In flashbacks, Maleficent goes from an isolated outcast adopted by Nanny to a victim of extreme bullying to the villain. Feminist Maleficent sneers at the princesses-needing-rescue trope, thereby insidiously reinforcing it, and the book primarily concerns itself with all manner of relationships between females. The story builds to a revelation that answers the question of why Maleficent seeks to destroy Aurora. Aside from colorful Maleficent (she modulates between green and lavender), if other characters’ skin tones are described, they’re pale.

Despite frequently inelegant prose, the story will probably please series fans. (Fantasy. 10-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-368-00901-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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