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Villains #5

Mother Knows Best

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The tale of the legendary golden flower is widely known. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the flower is coveted by an old witch to keep herself young and beautiful. And always the flower is used to save a dying queen, who then gives birth to a princess with magical hair. Not willing to lose the flower, the old witch steals the princess and locks her away in a high tower, raising her as her own. But the princess always finds out who she truly is and manages to defeat the old witch.

And yet this is only half the story. So what of the old witch, Mother Gothel? Where does she come from? And how does she come across the magical golden flower? Here is one account that recounts a version of the story that has remained untold for centuries . . . until now. It is a tale of mothers and daughters, of youth and dark magic. It is a tale of the old witch.

390 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2018

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About the author

Serena Valentino

120 books3,897 followers
Serena Valentino is best known for weaving tales that combine mythos and guile with her work on the comic book series GloomCookie and Nightmares & Fairy Tales, and her best selling Disney Villain Novels which have earned her critical acclaim for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty and extraordinary female protagonists.

Her Disney Villain novel series would be best enjoyed if read in this order: Fairest of All: The Story of the Wicked Queen, The Beast Within: The Story of Belle’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 and The Odd Sisters: A Villains Book to be released in Summer 2019. Book 7 will be out Summer 2020, Book 8 summer of 2021, and Book 9 Summer of 2022.

Serena lives in New Orleans with her dog Gozer, and a very tiny kitty named Momma.

Contact: Serena@serenavalentino.com

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5 stars
3,696 (36%)
4 stars
3,490 (34%)
3 stars
2,165 (21%)
2 stars
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1 star
162 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,083 reviews
Profile Image for Jojobean.
310 reviews
August 23, 2018
Ok I'm really tired of the Odd sisters in this series. They may be my most hated characters I ever come across. Once they enter the story it becomes all about them instead of the villain the story is supposed to be about. These books have become about the odd sisters disguised as the story of the villain of the story. They are so annoying and are always the cause of the villain's downfall which is becoming so tiring and is the same shit over and over again. If the author wanted to write about the odd sisters then just give them their own damn series! Someone needs to kill them off.

I really liked the first book of this series "Fairest of All" because the odd sisters were in like 3 chapters and then they left and were not part of the story anymore.

They just bother me and I'm probably going to stop reading this series not because I don't foresee them going away
Profile Image for Denise Rojas.
42 reviews
Want to read
March 29, 2018
I hope Cruella De Vil is after this 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
Profile Image for Fifi’s Bookshelf.
250 reviews70 followers
August 9, 2018
Profile Image for Janinas.Library.
211 reviews94 followers
February 10, 2021
Band 5 der Disney Villians Reihe war leider bisher der Band, der mir am wenigsten gefallen hat. Das lag vor allem an der Rolle der verdrehten Schwestern, der drei bösen Hexen. Seid sie in der Reihe aufgetaucht sind, geht es gefühlt nur noch um sie und nicht mehr wirklich um die Bösewichte, um die es ja eigentlich gehen sollte.

So war es auch in diesem Buch mit Gothel, der bösen Stiefmutter von Rapunzel. Leider hat sich die Geschichte etwas hingezogen und das liegt sicherlich auch mit daran, dass dieses das dickste Buch der Reihe ist. Es hätte auf jeden Fall etwas kürzer ausfallen können. Besonders gefallen haben mir die Passagen in denen Teile aus dem Disneyfilm 'Tangeld' nacherzählt wurden und es eben einmal nicht um die Hexen ging! Ich finde es super interessant, dass man einiges an Hintergrundwissen dazu gewinnt, über die Bösewichte der Disneywelten, die wir schon als Kind geflüchtet haben.

Leider war dies für mich der schwächste Band der Reihe, trotzdem werde ich Band 6 dennoch lesen, gerade da mich der lockere und leichte Schreibstil und die Dicke der Seiten geradezu durch die Bücher fliegen lässt.
Profile Image for Michaela Bush.
Author 21 books65 followers
August 11, 2018
I was so excited for this book that I preordered it as soon as I could. Mother Gothel's story is so mysterious, but considering the timelines presented in the movie and the TV show, this book doesn't fit into canon at all. I'm sure I could have appreciated this book more if I wasn't so obsessed with "Tangled" and hadn't picked apart every single piece of the movie until I have it memorized, but there were a lot of fallacies in this novel. While I haven't read the other books in this series, I was able to pick up on the basic undercurrent with the Odd Sisters and the larger story at hand. However, the inconsistencies in this story really turned me off from it. One thing I took issue with, that doesn't really spoil anything, is that the flower was found by the King's guards "in a flowery meadow" by a cottage, not alone on a craggy cliff face like in the movie and TV show. Gah. And that was the least of the errors. In addition to all of the darkness and magic qualities introduced--multiple times I almost put it down just by the graphic details, and I'm not afraid of a few gory scenes. I'm so disappointed...
Profile Image for Jammin Jenny.
1,379 reviews187 followers
March 20, 2021
This series is so much fun. In this one we learn the story of Gothel, the witch who had Rapunzel hidden up in a tower. We see how she became the evil witch, how she started out as one of three sisters in a dead forest, living with a mother who was a necromancer and very magical. The Odd Sisters also show up and cause general distress throughout the story. And we see what Circe and Snow are up to in the magical house. Great fun. Going to read book #6 in a couple days, then go on to book #7 before the month is out!
Profile Image for Dena McMurdie.
Author 2 books133 followers
August 11, 2018
Oh wow, I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that. It was MUCH spookier than I anticipated. When Mother Knows Best showed up in my mailbox, I thought my ten-year-old daughter might like to read it, but I'm glad I read it first because I think it would be too much for her. Plus, it's a young adult book (ages 12-18), not middle-grade (ages 9-12).

It's a really good book and it doesn't have anything graphic or descriptive in it, but it's pretty creepy. Which, of course, is why I enjoyed it so much.

This is the story of how Mother Gothel became the villain we know from the movie Tangled. It starts hundreds of years before Rapunzel, back when Gothel herself is a girl with two sisters and a mother. They all live together in an enchanted thicket that nobody can enter and nobody can leave without a special spell.

Gothel's life changes dramatically as the years pass, and each change twists Gothel into the frightening woman who steals a baby princess and keeps her captive in a tower.

There were two things that I didn't like in this book. The first one is there are so many exclamation points that it felt like everyone was shouting all the time. And the second is that it's not a true stand-alone story. I didn't realize that it's tied to all the other villain stories with an overarching plot that weaves them all together. Since this is the first villain story I've read, some things were confusing and didn't get explained.

Regardless, this was a fantastically fun read that I devoured in just a couple of days. It had magic, adventure, deceit, monsters, and betrayal. I was completely drawn in and hooked on the story. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next and had a hard time putting it down. With all its spookiness and dark magic, it makes a perfect Halloween binge-read!

Content: Some scary/perilous situations, but nothing graphic or descriptive.

Source: Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for sending me a copy of this book!
Profile Image for Amélie Boucher.
686 reviews293 followers
July 3, 2020
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

I was so excited to read this book, especially because it focuses on the Tangled adaptation of Rapunzel!

Unfortunately, this book dragged. This is the biggest book in the series so far, and I feel like it could have been shorter. I understand why Serena Valentino felt like she needed to add this level of detail to Gothel's story, but I still think the book could have been shorter.

Because of that, the pacing felt off. We only got some bits and pieces of the Tangled story, which was hands down my favorite part of the book. The author did a fabulous job of including the scenes from the movie into the storyline. I felt like I was watching a movie commentary, and it was absolutely hilarious. She also included scenes of the movie almost verbatim, and I enjoyed that tremendously.

I feel like this book lacked a little bit of nuance when it comes to Gothel's character. She went from being really good to really bad, and everything felt very black and white. I wish we had gotten more of the gray area, I wanted to see her struggles as she fell to the dark side.

This series remains very fun to read, especially for all of us Disney fans out there!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,314 reviews215 followers
March 20, 2021

Guys. I was fa-reaking out when I dove into Mother Knows Best. Now after reading it? Well, you all shouldn't be surprised if I end up disappearing for the rest of the day. Why? Wellllllllllll, it means I'm sitting on my couch, eating popcorn, and watching some Disney movies.

Specifically Tangled due to this book.

Diving into Gothel, it just made me really sad what she went through. I mean so much betrayal and death surrounded this girl at a young age. Then I just kept waiting for the Odd Sisters to show up and make a mess of things. Which they certainly did but now they are currently sitting in the dark and I'm so intrigued to dive into the next book.

Besides all of that, I really liked getting to see new characters in Rapunzel's life. It was interesting to see them taking care of her at a young age and she was free to go outside and play in the flowers. I was still, however, waiting for the shoe to drop and for Gothel to take her to the tower. Luckily, Flynn was there to save the day and I just couldn't help falling back in love with these two.

In the end, I'm so excited to see what Circe will do in the next one.
Profile Image for Sophie Crane.
3,714 reviews120 followers
December 5, 2019
I did not purchase my books from amazon but I thought necessary To leave a review 😀 I LOVE THIS BOOK SERIES. As it's mostly AIMED AT THE OLDER DISNEY FAN. As there are parts in the story that be quite dark so DON'T BUY FOR A YOUNG READER. You also must read the book series in order to understand each villains story.
Here's the list on the order of the books
1. Fairest of all
2. The Beast Within
3. Poor unfortunate Soul
4. Mistress of all Evil
5. Mother Knows Best
Read them in this order and you'll understand as each on carries on from each other each book is beautiful written I really hope more villains tales will be add the the series 😀 as being such a HUGE DISNEY FAN it's nice to see something for the older Disney fan
Profile Image for emeraldsue.
435 reviews49 followers
July 25, 2019
“Sometimes we create images of the people we love and hate in our minds, and those images override what we see with our eyes, even when they are right in front of us. Even if we've imagined them to be monsters, to see them as they truly are with our eyes and our hearts is sometimes shocking.”
Profile Image for Sammy.
305 reviews1 follower
December 24, 2020
I’m really loving this series! Volume 5 Mother knows best has been one of the better ones! The back story behind Mother Gothel was so gripping and intricate! For anyone that’s thinking of reading this book I would say you do need to have read the other books first, but they are short so you should get there quickly. Highly recommend 4.8/5
2 reviews1 follower
July 4, 2019
This is quite possibly the worst series I have ever read. It is a classic case of the cardinal rule of writing being broken - show, don't tell. This is apparent by the appearance of Original Characters being introduced and then gaining more and more book space as the series goes. This can work well, as is the case with the Kingdom Hearts video game series despite bizzare storytelling. In this case, however, the author claims authorship for all Disney villain origins and does it in the most irritating way possible, with the Original Characters speaking at great length, in disjointed and unintelligible dialogue mind you, about the respective movies in question through their point of view. It is extremely lazy writing for the writer to allow the characters to "speak for themselves" in that the dialogue goes in odd tangents, but the author does not take charge of the story by planning nor guiding it.

There are entire chapters dedicated to the OCs analyzing movie scenes and retconning it as something they're responsible for. Additionally, the author doesn't even appear to understand her own characters' motivation as characters will flip-flop multiple times within the same chapter as to decisions they have stated they will make, then ultimately decide against because "it's gross," despite already knowing everything involved. Additional characters assault us as meaningless additions to the story in a shameless attempt by the author to plug her own "creativity." Mrs. Tiddlebottom. Mrs. Pickle. Need I say more?

To be honest, I do get a good deal of satisfaction out of reading these stories for the sheer absurdity that is contained within. Every story seems to push this strange fascination the author has with sisters and their relationships with each other. It reads as a childish form of wish fulfilment the author has into what it might be like to have sisters and what one might do for them. Again, sounds good on paper, but clearly the author does not have sisters as every interaction is forced, and the dialogue at no point resembles any that siblings might have. At multiple times throughout the series, the author describes in great detail how nice it must be for sisters to be able to read each others minds, and the OCs are constantly and irritatingly interrupting actual Disney characters with ham-fisted "Woops, I just read your mind, did you forget I could do that? Because I can. Hey! I can read your mind! Did I just tell you that, because I'm going to point it out at every possible moment!"

Every entry in this series becomes more and more disjointed and impossible to follow without previous exposure to previous novels, which is more lazy writing, and I cannot fathom why Disney Press would ever allow someone to destroy their creations with such vapid and myopic works as Serena Valentino's. If you want quality Juvenile Fiction that anyone can enjoy, try the Twisted Tales series by Disney Press.
Profile Image for Alejandro Camacho.
7 reviews2 followers
June 15, 2018
A year ago I was heartbroken by Maleficent's demise in Mistress of all Evil so when I got my ARC yesterday with Gothel story I knew I needed to be ready for another deep story.

There is so much about this book that I've enjoyed, personally I love what Serena did with Gothel, I never imagined how her background and past might have been before the events taking part in the film, so this was both exciting and intriguing for the story. The result is something dark and beautiful at the same time, exquisite in a more sinister and mature fashion. I am amazed how the past events of Gothel's life (which are settled in a bloody and terrific background) fit perfectly with the light tone of the canon in Tangled's story. That was extraordinary, like a perfect combination of both styles creating something unique. I absolutely loved the references to the Bloody Chamber and Bluebeard (being one of my favorite classic stories) and how all those non Disney tones can spin the story and all makes sense, it's deliciously brilliant. I also enjoy how Serena does an amazing job keeping the particular humor and grotesque beauty of the Odd Sister's touch in all the stories of the saga and how all are linked in some way, making every book just another chapter in this big twisted fairy tale.

I would like to praise Gothel's turn in the spotlight, I never imagined she was going to surprise me in so many levels. I don't want to spoiler anything but what I can say is that her character here is more complex and deep than you can expect her to be. The story she has with her family and all the secrets and lies around her might be a surprise for the reader, but once you reach the final part when she faces her last demise, you will never see her the same again. She is sinister, dark and merciless but also she is sensitive and frail at the same time. Her soul is so full of pain and desire for a last chance of happiness but also all the rage and hate running through her veins will make the reader root for her till the very end, because once you discover her true story and realizing her motives go far beyond staying young and beautiful, it will tear your heart once you realize the end is coming and she will turn into dust. It's indeed a sad story, again full of female and strong characters with a high presence of sisterly bounds, Gothel's mother and sisters are a new addition but again I say, all this fits perfect while the plot goes on and yes, the flower is vital for the story and I'm delighted of how dark and bloody the flower's background is here.

And for everyone wondering what about Rapunzel in this book, you will be surprised when you find out there is a little more of her story with the tower and you will never guess what is it until your read, but my little spoil will be this: You will never imagine how she learn to do all the stuff she does with her free time ;)
June 27, 2022
The first time I read it was like 2-3 years ago and didn't get to finish it.
I was VERY pleased with this book. It had me gasp at the right times, cringe at the right times, and laugh at the right times. I was surprised at how much I adore this book.

It was very interesting to me that 300 out of 400 of the pages in the book didn't even have the princess Rapunzel in it. It was all telling Gothels tragic backstory.

I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good book.
Profile Image for Larrysbookworld.
129 reviews4 followers
February 21, 2022
Das Buch hat mir echt schöne Lesestunden beschert. Ich kann es allen Disney-Fans empfehlen. Bisher einer meiner liebsten Bände der Reihe!
Profile Image for Betsy.
331 reviews1 follower
September 23, 2019
I want to like this series so much, but it's just not my cup of tea. I like the idea of the series, and like how Valentino weaves the Disney villains' stories together, but I have a love/hate relationship with the odd sisters. While I'm glad there's a twist and some originality to the villain perspectives, more and more of the stories are about the odd sisters and less and less about the Disney villains we've come to know and love dislike. Since there's only one book left in the series, I'll probably finish it though.
April 13, 2018
I enjoyed this book tremendously. It is a fantastic tale that gives you an insight to the thoughts of Lady Gothel and why she did what she did. What do you think her motives are? Greed? Vanity? Love? It is a must read.
Profile Image for Paige.
78 reviews
July 10, 2021
3.75 ⭐
This book was pretty good! It was very interesting discovering the 'back story' of Mother Gothel from Tangled. It even made me feel sorry for her and as if it wasn't her fault Rapunzel's story was initially so sad. Very good book!!
Profile Image for Laura.
3 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2019
By far the best book in the series! Great back story for Gothel and not too much of Tangled worked into it that is repetitive...SOOOOOO GOOD!!!
Profile Image for lizeindisney.
276 reviews26 followers
February 13, 2022
I love this series! I think this one could have been a little shorter but I still really enjoyed it.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,083 reviews

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