Genre: Middle grade, fantasy, fairytale retelling
Series: The Descendants #1
Goodreads rating: 3.96
My rating: ★★★★
Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.
But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?
Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.
Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.
Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.
Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.
Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.
Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad (Goodreads).
I had heard of Disney Descendants and it seemed like a fun film, so when I learned of The Isle of the Lost I knew I had to get my hands on it. So naturally I immediately bought it when I noticed it at the bookstore (only copy! Obviously I quickly grabbed it).
I’m going to start with the negative things, to get them out of the way. It kind of bothered me that all of the villain’s kids had one parent. Okay, Mal’s and Carlos’ their fathers are mentioned, but it was just ‘Hook’s daughter’, ‘Gaston’s sons’… And even Lucifer and Iago and some other evil pets had children, but there was no mention of their partners?
The names of the kids also really, really bothered me. Okay, so Mal is actually called Maleficent and named after her mother and I think it’s totally canon for Gaston to name his sons Gaston Jr. and Gaston the Third, but The Evil Queen’s daughter is called Evie. Jafar’s son is called Jay, Carlos and Cruella both start with a C and then the minor characters’ names all started with the same letter as their parents name (maybe with a few exceptions that I missed because I was so annoyed at the others’ names. Example: Hook’s daughter is called Harriet. Or remember Horace and Jasper, Cruella’s minions? Their sons are called Harold and Jason) Um, why? I really wished the author had gone for some more original names.
The characters themselves were fun and interesting though. I think they grew during the book and we got to know them better chapter by chapter. I also love how their relationships with each other developed and I can’t wait to see more of that in the film (WHICH IS TOO FAR AWAY). Also, they’re precious babies who aren’t even evil, but just want their parents approval (which leads to trying to be evil when your parents are Disney villains). Then there are the characters back in Auradon, mainly Ben, who had his own pov. Ben is the son of Belle and Beast (fun fact: for some reason my mind decided that Belle is called Belly instead…). He too just wants his parents approval and has a lot to live up too. We don’t get to read as much about him as the villain’s kids, but I can already tell I’m going to like him in the film. Also, I really, really ship him and Mal (Bal? Men? What would their ship name be??).
Then their are the awesome cameos of all or favourite Disney characters. Almost all of them make an appearance and there were fun references to the films throughout the book, which are fun to catch as a Disney fan!
The writing style was pleasant to read and quick. The story was fun and stayed interesting because of the multiple povs. It’s a fun prequel to the film, not really necessary to read before the film I think. In this book you get to learn the characters and how they became friends and how Ben got the idea for the plot of the film (which sounds really vague, I know. If you already know what the film is about, it won’t be a spoiler, but just in case I’m going to sound vague haha).
This is a Disney middle grade book, but there were still some moments that I was scared for the protagonists. I mean, we all remember Mufasa and Bambi’s mom and oh! Ray my favourite little firefly and of course Tadashi (though a sequel has been confirmed and I’ve heard rumors that he’s alive?!) and some others too of course. There were also some laughs and heartwarming moments. Definitely recommend to any Disney fan!
– The Writing Hufflepuff