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Villains #7

Evil Thing

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Cruella De Vil is the perfect villain: stylish, witty, relentless...and possibly cursed.

From her lonely childhood, to her iconic fashion choices, to that fateful car crash (you know the one), Cruella tells all in this marvelous memoir of a woman doomed. Even the cruelest villains have best friends, true loves, and daring dreams. Now it's Cruella's turn to share hers.

This latest novel by the author of the wildly popular and darkly fascinating Villains series brings readers a tale told by the Evil Thing herself-a tale of the complicated bonds of female friendship, of mothers and daughters, and of burning, destructive desire.

After all, nothing is as simple as black and white.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published July 7, 2020

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About the author

Serena Valentino

136 books3,916 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
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 721 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,540 reviews9,834 followers
December 21, 2022
**3.5-stars rounded up**

Cruella De Vil, like many villains before her, is grossly misunderstood. In Evil Thing, Valentino does a great job building a backstory for one of my favorite villains.

Beginning when she is just a young child, Evil Thing explores the key relationships in Cruella's life, particularly that with her Mama, Father and Anita.

Through the examination of these relationships, the Reader begins to understand how Cruella developed into the person we come to know through the original-101 Dalmatians animated film.

In fact, there is even a portion at the end that overlaps with the timeline from that original movie.

The narrative is told from Cruella's perspective, as if she is recounting her life story. The narrator, Susanne Blakeslee, absolutely nailed Cruella's voice and intonation.

It really was an incredible voice performance and I highly recommend the audiobook as a medium for taking in this story.

Having read previous books in this series, I was actually surprised by the level of depth this one had.

Cruella's story is a tragic one, full of disappointments, neglect and heartbreak. I felt for her, but I also wanted to shake her. She seemed to be blinded by love a lot of time; unable to see people for who they truly were, much to her detriment.

Overall, this is an engaging and fast-paced story. If you are a Cruella fan, I definitely recommend checking this one out.

Also, please do listen to the audiobook if you have the opportunity. It really is a stellar Cruella performance.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I really enjoyed my time with it!
Profile Image for Chad.
7,734 reviews869 followers
March 9, 2021
This is the story of Cruella De Vil. It follows something of The Great Gatsby route, being centered in that same old money world. All she ever wanted was her mother's love. Love that was not to be found even though Cruella could never see it. He mother was more obsessed with "things" and social status and couldn't be bothered with raising a child. **Shakes Fist** Darn you, Serena Valentino, for making me feel empathetic to such an evil villain. If I had any criticism, it would maybe be that Valentino tried to connect and explain too many little things to the movie.

Apparently Valentino has written a whole series of these books about Disney villains, but this was my first exposure. I liked it well enough that I'll check out some others.

Received a review copy from Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.
1 review2 followers
March 15, 2020
Dahlings! Cruella De Vil here. You may wonder what an icon like me is doing here, on Goodreads. Just to be clear, I don't have an account for this foolish website and I won't have one in the near future. Instead, I decided to annoy a French reader of Serena Valentino, Hugo, while he was writing an annoying review of my MARVELLOUS MEMOIR. You know what people say: You are never as well served as when you serve yourself. That's why I decided that I will write an amazing review of my own book( and this is also the reason why this book is told by me unlike the rest of Serena's series which is by the way, not as good or interesting as my novel).

Okay, duckies. Now you are probably wondering how ME and well, this gothic woman with her horrible dog Gozer met. Let's say our relationship is as complex as the one I have with Anita. You know, the dishrag that married a foolish songwriter after his stupid dog threw them both in the pond.
The answers to those questions are in EVIL THING: A TALE OF THAT DEVIL WOMAN. I know... This title sucks. It should have been: Cruella De Vil: The fashion girl we all deserve and need.

Just to be clear, forget those stupid fairies, those odd and ugly creepy triplets sisters or all the other nonsense you've been known. My life is in London, in the 1920s, in the mansion of my family, in Miss Upturn's Academy, in a beautiful estate and finally in Hell Hall( it wasn't always its real name, dears. But you will have to read my book to know why). That's right: No spoilers, only teasers.

This absolute masterpiece will reveal all about my childhood, my relationship with my parents ( both of them were very different), how I handled dim-witted servants, how I was kind to a stupid girl named Anita as well as the origins behind my love for furs. But that's just the beginning. We start the story when I'm eleven, then we're arriving at my sixteenth, seventeenth and twentyfifth birthday. ( I hate time jumps. They were sooo many details we could have told about me and we should have explored every year of my life but this brat Serena refused. And she didn't want my story to be divided in three- uh I mean- tenth books- hell to a series of its own. Though I'm much more interesting than an old witch who wants to stay young with a golden flower ( and yet her book is the longest in the series, ugh).

This installment is obviously the best one in the series. It's in the real world, it's about me, told by myself... And Serena Valentino did an amazing job by transliterating my beautiful life. I would say she is a talented one and I might consider inviting her to the signing in Hell Hall. About that, duckies, preorder my book! Buy it, rate it, review it and make sure I can use the royalties to buy furs, a new car, gin, jazz records, diamonds and other treats for myself. And Serena Valentino deserves it too for her brilliant ideas through the series. When I was coughing because of smoke or couldn't express my feelings well, she helped me so that it would felt authentic in the book. AND she brought someone at my place: an inn-between to save me from a moron. That sounds strange, isn't it? It's a private joke. Don't pay attention to those white rats and their insipid owners or to the two bloody fools of henchmen I mistakenly hired. Of course, they are in this story but the most important part is the before and... well the after of it.

You will have to decide if I'm responsible for my acts ( I'm not, of course) and if I deserve recognition and success ( I do!).

Don't forget something, sweeties: Distinguish yourselves. It's the most important message in this book.

Cheerio. Cheerio dahlings. I know you're not imbeciles nor idiots or fools and will read this magical turn page book that I've read in one sitting, about the dreams and descent into madness of an emblematic character.

Profile Image for Fernwehwelten.
320 reviews205 followers
June 23, 2021
4 Sterne | Pluspunkte: Detailliert; Zusammenhänge mit dem Film | Minuspunkte: Spannung kam sehr spät auf, Handlungen nicht alle nachvollziehbar

Der siebte Teil der Villains-Reihe, welche erstmalig die Geschichten der Bösewichte aus bekannten Disneyfilmen erzählt, ist auf dem Markt und ich glaube, wir kennen alle die Frau, um die es darin geht: Cruella de Vil, modeverrückte und herzlose Antagonistin aus 101 Dalmatiner, deren Kaltblütigkeit durchaus für Gänsehaut sorgen kann. Schon seit dem Start der Villains-Reihe war ich gespannt auf ihre Geschichte, welche sich als Reise durch ein Leben voller Einsamkeit, Sehnsucht, falscher Wertvorstellungen, Träume und Ängste entpuppt hat.
Das Buch wird aus der direkten Sicht Cruellas erzählt, vermittelt ihre Gedanken ungefiltert und lässt einen den Sog des Bösen, der das einst liebe Mädchen mit jeder Seite fester zu umschlingen scheint, deutlich spüren. Einige bekannte Namen wurden gekonnt in das Leben Cruellas gewebt, was mir direkt das Gefühl gegeben hat, dass die neu geschaffene Vergangenheit hervorragend durchdacht und an den Originalfilm angepasst ist. Die Entwicklung von Cruella erschien mir nachvollziehbar – während ich über die Handlungen anderer Charakter hin und wieder den Kopf schütteln musste. Natürlich war von Anfang an klar, wie das Buch endet und dass es für Cruella keine Rettung geben wird, jedoch erschien mir die geringe Motivation der Nebencharaktere, auf Cruella einzuwirken, dafür eine fast etwas zu einfache Lösung. Meiner Meinung nach hat darunter auch ein Stück weit die Spannung gelitten, genauso wie unter dem Langziehen einzelner Momente. Mir fehlten in dem Buch dann und wann etwas Abwechslung, Eigeninitiative und Dynamik. Der einnehmende Schreibstil der Autorin, welcher den Ton der Geschichte und der Protagonistin perfekt trifft, hat mich allerdings etwas hinwegtrösten können.

Profile Image for Meghan.
2,073 reviews
February 15, 2020
This book was received as an ARC from Disney Book Group - Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I absolutely was looking forward to the release of this book since I am a huge fan of the Villains series by Serena Valentino. All of the books so far were brilliantly written and I expected nothing less from Serena and I must say, this was the BEST villains book in the series (in my humble opinion). I loved the approach she took in focusing of Cruella's childhood and her friendship with Anita and the influence it had to the personality she had during the events with the dalmatians. I did like the roles of the odd sisters in the previous books but I loved how Serena left them out with Cruella because when I heard of the release of this book, I was figuring out in my head how their role would be and I could not come up with anything so I was happy to see that I didn't have to think about it. I was cheering, screaming, dreaming and smiling all throughout reading this book. I can not wait to buy a hardcopy for myself and add it to my villains' collection. This sure is a book that you don't want to miss.

We will consider adding this title to our YA collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jenni.
544 reviews18 followers
February 16, 2020
Cruella's story, told from her point of view. In this book, you are Cruella as a child, teen, and adult, so you can see how she changes and becomes evil. I really appreciated seeing how she grew up and also her friendship with Anita, who we all know as the owner of Perdita. Quick read.
Profile Image for April B..
159 reviews7 followers
May 8, 2020
Thank you NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for allowing me to read Evil Thing, book 7 in the Disney Villian series, In the words of Cruella "It was simply Mahvelous Dahling!" I loved this book so completely, was written in the format of a memoir by Cruella's own words. The backstory included her childhood, which was interesting because her Mother was a very typical high class socialite, wanted to go out running than be anywhere near her daughter and then there was her Father, who was loving, kind and funny, absolutely adored Cruella. As the story progressed, we get to see how Anita fits in to the story and I loved the evolution of that relationship. Cruella had a very difficult relationship with her Mama and that played a large role in what made Cruella become what she was in the end. The servants and staff from her childhood are included in the story and are very interesting pivotal pieces in the puzzle as well. I adored this book and look forward to book 8! My review will be posted on Goodreads, Amazon, Google Play and NetGalley
Profile Image for Beckee❤️.
124 reviews158 followers
July 25, 2020
I absolutely love Serena Valentino's Disney Villains book series and Evil Thing was absolutely no exception! 101 Dalmatians was always one of my favourite Disney films as a little girl and it is my very own princesses favourite now too. I absolutely love Cruella De Vil as a villain and hearing her side of the story was like finally slotting the last piece of the jigsaw into its place. I believed every word of Criella's ast and to me it made erfect sense. Brilliant, will be keeping this aside for when my mini me is bigger ❤️
Profile Image for Niloofar Gh.
17 reviews9 followers
August 22, 2022
کروئلا دویل! دزد ۱۰۱ سگ خالدار...
داستان به پیش از ۱۰ سالگی کروئلا دویل می‌پردازد و سیر زندگی او تا زمانی که همگی می‌دانیم که نقشه دزدیدن ۱۰۱ سگ خالدار را کشید.
کروئلا تنها دختر خاندان دویل و تنها بازمانده و وارث ثروت دویل بود.
زندگی پرفراز و نشیبی که کروئلا در این کتاب از خودش تعریف می‌کند آنچنان درگیر کننده است که میتوان گفت گاهی خود را در نهایت دلسوزی برای او می‌یابید. و گاهی از حماقت و ساده‌لوحی او خود را در اوج عصبانیت می‌یابید.
شاید به راستی کروئلای شیطانی، شوم و نفرین شده بود؟

شخصیت‌پردازی کتاب به طور کامل حول محور کروئلا می‌گشت، شخصیتش پیچیدگی عجیبی داشت. روند کتاب در ۴۰ صفحه پایانی سرعت زیادی میگیره و شاید جای یکم توضیحات بیشتر رو داشته. فاصله طبقاتی حاکم بر لندن در در آن زمان و تفاوت در نوع نگاه افراد با توجه به طبقه اجتماعی و خانواده‌شان به خوبی تصویر شده.

درکل کتاب کوتاه خوبی بود که ترجمه مطلوبی داشت.
و شاید با خواندن این کتاب‌ها نظرمون نسبت به خیلی از شرورهای داستان‌های کودکی‌مان تغییر کند.
Profile Image for Stacey.
620 reviews19 followers
July 28, 2020
This installment, #7, was formatted a bit differently than previous books which featured some characters unique to this series, but not to the Disney world. This was told as a bit of a memoir and is much stronger for it. This was easily the best book of the series and in my opinion brought new life into it. I'm ready to see what is next!
Profile Image for Jackie.
623 reviews41 followers
June 5, 2020
Not bad but very much a slow descent into madness.

“Evil Thing” gives the infamous Cruella the chance to tell her side of the story we all know so well and this time we get to meet the young girl desperate to make her father proud and earn her mother’s love even if it means giving up everything.

I haven’t read the other books in this series so I don’t know if they’re all this kind of character study but it was interesting to see this rather long, drawn out take on Cruella going from this young girl who is blinded by her mother’s presence and her wishing to twist herself into someone worthy of Lady De Vil’s affection even if it meant burning bridges with those who truly care for her.

My biggest critique is I felt like the emphasis here was on the drawn out part, there is very little action with any and all moments that could have amped up the tension or offered something to the plot happened offscreen so we only got Cruella’s perception on what might have happened behind closed doors or her self isolation which helped create her iconic image. I wish we could have gotten more of that grit and sass that comes with such an iconic character and while I appreciated the arc of her delusion what was fed by her innocent attempt to be loved this book was really, really slow.

Overall this isn’t bad just not what I would have expected for a character that has been portrayed so many times with such a commanding presence so if you’re looking for the wide eyed fashionista shrieking through Hell Hall you’ll be disappointed.

**special thanks to the publishers and netgalley for the providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**
Profile Image for Samantha- The Paperback Collector.
455 reviews41 followers
July 21, 2022
Boy, I am a sucker for fairytale interpretations. Even when my mind tells me to put the book down every. Single. Page. I. Read. And I should have put this book down. It was not good, y’all. I swear, I don’t think an editor touched this novel and if they did, they must think their audience is quite dim-witted. I don’t like it when authors assume I need everything laid out for me. It’s better to show and not tell, you know. Yeah. It was rough.

I’ve read all of Serena Valentino’s Villains series as released by Disney because who doesn’t love to get in the head of the antagonist? As a whole, they generally lack depth, but connect some dots in interesting and original ways. I thought the previous book in the series was the last, as all loose ends appeared to be wrapped up. Evil Thing exists outside of the universe created in the previous novels above and beyond a quick mention here and there. It didn’t need to be included. I know I sound harsh, but there was so much POTENTIAL here. Understanding Cruella de Vil’s motives? Hell yes, gimme. But not like this.
Profile Image for Romanticamente Fantasy.
6,459 reviews182 followers
May 27, 2021
Dany - per RFS
Care Fenici, chi ha avuto il piacere di guardare il film d’animazione, La Carica dei 101, ricorderà sicuramente il divertente motivetto (sopra riportato) che compone Rudy (nel film) pensando a Crudelia De Mon, scommetto che lo state pure canticchiando, come me del resto. La canzone non si distacca poi tanto da come viene presentata. Alta, scheletrica, capelli mezzi neri e mezzi bianchi, tubino nero, scarpe rosse, anello e orecchini di giada, sigaretta con bocchino che emana uno sgradevole fumo verdastro, zigomi alti e l’immancabile pelliccia.

“Io vivo per le pellicce, esiste una sola donna in questo sciagurato mondo che non le ama?”.

Se poi ci mettiamo la follia di trasformare degli adorabili cagnolini maculati in un set di pellicce, completiamo l’opera, e si sa, chi se ne importa dei visoni o dei conigli, i cuccioli di cane sono intoccabili, e quindi eccovi presentata una delle più cattive donne del mondo Disney. Tutti abbiamo avuto paura di Crudelia da bambini, ma poi l’abbiamo rivista in Once Upon a Time e prima ancora nel live action del film d’animazione, interpretata dalla meravigliosa Glenn Close. Ce l’hanno mostrata in tutti i modi possibili sempre come una grande cattivona. Ma se non fosse proprio così la realtà dei fatti? Ultimamente la Disney, lo avrete notato, sta cercando di dare più spazio alle donne, niente più principi azzurri, soprattutto stanno rivedendo il contesto dei cattivi, i Villain appunto, sono veramente nati così? O magari lo sono diventati?

Il libro che ho letto per voi viene raccontato dal solo punto di vista di Crudelia e la parola chiave si riassume in “e se…”. Con i se e i ma non si va da nessuna parte, ovvio, ma siamo nel mondo della fantasia e ci è consentito sognare dicendo proprio: e se. A questo proposito penserete che un’opera Disney sia per bambini, anche se non mi ci vedo a raccontare questa “favola” al mio cuginetto di quattro anni prima di andare a letto, direi con una certa sicurezza che è una storia per adulti, che fa riflettere su quanto la vita a volte sia ingiusta.

Crudelia nasce in una famiglia nobile londinese, molto ricca. La madre è una grande amante del lusso, dei balli, della vita abbiente e, attenzione, adora le pellicce. Il senso materno, invece, è proprio inesistente, ma questo lo percepiamo noi, mentre la protagonista vede la cosa come normale e anzi è grata di poter stare con la sua mamma un’ora ogni giorno. Il padre, invece, è di tutt’altro stampo, un uomo diverso che ama sua figlia. Completano il quadro le “vie di mezzo”, ossia alcuni domestici che hanno l’onore di passare del tempo con la famiglia ma che non ne fanno parte. E poi, infine, c’è Anita, una piccola orfanella accolta in casa dal tutore, amico dei De Mon, che Crudelia prende sotto la sua ala. Oserei dire che abbiamo una bambina a cui non manca niente se non gli affetti, e tutto gira intorno all’amore che spera di ricevere dalla madre.

E se la sua mamma l’avesse amata? Probabilmente Crudelia sarebbe diventata primo ministro, chi lo sa. Possiamo giocare ai se quanto vogliamo, il risultato però non cambia. Non vi toglierò la gioia di leggerlo e continuare per conto vostro il gioco dei se, di certo, non mi vergogno a dire, che ho pianto, e anche parecchio. Alla fine del racconto posso dire con assoluta certezza che mi spiace tanto per Crudelia, provo pena per lei, ed è una storia che mi ha fatto molto riflettere. La protagonista non è nata folle, lo è diventata a causa del dolore e della solitudine. È con il dolore che si scopre al meglio se stessi, ma uscire dal tunnel della propria mente completamente da soli, senza nemmeno un affetto o un aiuto, direi che è quasi impossibile.

È un libro fantasioso che fa riflettere e ti obbliga a pensare “e se…”.
Profile Image for Cherlynn | cherreading.
1,565 reviews768 followers
April 27, 2021
✨ "I was living the grandest life I could wish for. I was married to the love of my life; my mother was safely tucked away in my childhood home; I was rich, beautiful, and happy. I was Lady Cruella De Vil. But of course, isn't it always the case that the higher you fly, the farther you fall? And I would indeed fall, farther than I could have possibly imagined."

A very cool and interesting origin story of Cruella De Vil! This book focuses on her childhood and how the iconic villain came to be. The story was engaging and definitely made me feel sympathetic towards her.

I found this to be significantly better than the other books in the series. For once, it was a legit origin story instead of deviating from canon. No talk about politics and battles and 'The Odd Sisters' in a shared magical universe.

And unlike its predecessors, this book can be read as a standalone (there are very mild references to the magical realm but nothing hard to understand) which definitely added to my enjoyment. I also loved how this book focused on a tale that doesn't involve a Disney princess.

I don't usually comment on book covers but I feel that this one was poorly designed. The title is in black font and hence illegible. The taglines, author and cover blurb are in red font and thus hard to read against a black background. Strange choice of colours.
Profile Image for Lena Bross.
5 reviews1 follower
May 26, 2021
Ich bin absoluter Fan von der Villains-Reihe. Dem 7. Band "Cruella - die Teufelin" stand ich allerdings von Anfang an etwas skeptisch aber auch interessiert gegenüber, ob Serena Valentino es schafft beim Leser Verständnis für das Verhalten von Cruella de Vil zu wecken.
Leider hat mich die Begründung nicht wirklich abgeholt und ich fand sie zu "schwach".
Ist natürlich die Frage, ob es überhaupt die "richtige Begründung" und damit Verständnis für das Verhalten der Protagonistin gibt (in meinen Augen gibt es zumindest keine).
Auch wenn dieser Band mich leider etwas enttäuscht hat, freue ich mich auf den 8. Band der Reihe.
Profile Image for Jammin Jenny.
1,386 reviews187 followers
July 5, 2022
I love this Disney Villains series and this book was great. Telling the tale of how Cruella de Vil came to be. When you see villains in this light, you kind of feel sorry for them...kind of. Dealing with childhood neglect, and a warped sense of what love should be, Cruella was destined to be a villain from the start.
Profile Image for WTF Are You Reading?.
1,303 reviews89 followers
March 4, 2020
Evil Thing is the 7th offering in Serena Valentino's Villains series.
Highlighting 101 Dalmations' Cruella De Vil.
Readers are introduced to the broken girl behind the iconic villainess.
The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil.
Cruella grew up a very sheltered and cosetted child.
A lonely bird in an extremely gilded cage. Where nothing mattered more than the appearance of perfection. The trappings of class and social position.
And the mandate from both Cruella's parents that she "distinguish herself".

Though her father loved her dearly. As a busy lord, he is never there for her in the parental sense.
Her mother...
Is a beast of another breed altogether.
Because though she has nothing but time.
She prefers spending her time shopping, traveling, and living the glamorous life of an aristocrat.
Instead of nurturing her lonely child.
And leaving Cruella searching for the motherly approval and acceptance that she is sadly never destined to receive.

It is amongst the people that she has been raised to view as being beneath her.
The family servants, her governess, and even her untitled best friend, Anita.
That Cruella does find both acceptance and even love.

At least until the death of her father.
And the further alienation of her mother.
At its heart, this is a story of a "poor little rich girl".
A girl turned woman who was given the world. But who was never given a solid position in the life of the person who mattered most.
Her mother.

This story is written with an emotional depth that gives it a universal appeal.
Cruella is divested so fully of her demonizing qualities. That one can't help seeing her for the broken and utterly desperate human that she has been left to be.
The transition between the past that created her, and the fulfillment of that creation.
Is nothing less than seamless.
Although the relationship that one has with the character that they thought they knew. Wil be forever changed.

I would like to thank Netgalley and The Disney Group for providing a copy of the work on which my unbiased critique is based.
695 reviews21 followers
October 19, 2022
I just loved this!!!!!

I love reading books from the traditional villain's POV and this one told the story of exactly HOW Cruella ended up being the way she was.

I was mesmerized by her story. She was just a little girl who needed her mom's love. That is it. I admired the author's style of writing and the way she portrayed Cruella as any normal teenage girl who needed her mom's approval.

I felt awful when she gets the news of Jack's death, that was definitely the last straw for her which sent her reeling back to her mom for support. I did feel bad for the puppies as well once she turned evil but the author wrote the book in a way that one could sympathise with Cruella for her state.
2 reviews
March 21, 2020
First things first, a huge THANK YOU to Serena Valentino for this fun contest she had on her FB page that offered a PDF ARC of Evil Thing to the winners. Of course, this review is based on my personal opinion and my own feelings.

Fairy tales are cautionary stories, as they provide important lessons. But what does Serena creates with those retellings? Well, I'll tell you. It's not just about creating amazing backstories for the undeveloped characters of Disney pictures that are villains. It's about incorporating her own places ( like the dead woods or the fairylands) and characters to the mixture, to the point that you'll forget they're not a part of the Disney Pantheon( but for me, they definitely are. So cheers to Lucinda, Ruby, Martha Nanny, Tulip, Circe, Oberon, Pflanze, Manea, Jacob, Nestis, Primerose, Verona and soo many more).

However, they don't appear in this story ( at least, physically, teasing). Why is that? Because this new installment, while in the same universe as the other books, doesn't take place in the same part ( the Many Kingdoms, land of magic, royalty, and hypocrisy at its finest) nor in the same timeline. Actually, the villain that featured this book is sooo hmm special that a few changes needed to be done. So here we are in the real world! Our world, most specifically in London during the 2O's when large households were filled with servants and little girls were expected to be decorative objects and married to wealthy men that would provide to tell them what their opinions were. Charming, isn't it? What's funny is that, nowadays, this way of life is still deeply rooted in some cultures.

As you have guess, the main character of this book is a vampire bat, an inhuman beast, The Devil Woman in person. Ladies and Gentlemen: Cruella De Vil. And not only she refused to share the spotlight with the ongoing characters of the series, but she decided that this story would be better if she wrote it herself. Pour some wine in a glass, dears, while Cruella goes back in time before the madness with the dalmatian puppies happens.

Serena Valentino sends us in a dreamy-like mansion where Cruella and her family live, in Belgrave Square. I honestly didn't picture her childhood there. I thought she grew up in Hell Hall as an orphan. But careful dears. Though her life seems charming at first, don't forget it's from her point of view and that she isn't the most self-aware person we know. This is one of the aspects I loved the most about this material: We are amused by her sass and her lack of perspective or reality but this is also disturbing as she doesn't notice the madness that starts plaguing her. We have to separate her words from the truth ( and she isn't even trying to lie! This is simply her complex, yet riveting psychology).
You may wonder how her life led her to become a would-be puppy murderer?

Everything seemed perfect: her mother, despite her serious engagements such as tea with friends or shopping, had the kindness to spend one hour with her a day, asking her always the same questions (what a thoughtful mum) and sometimes, staring at the beautiful clocktower ( a normal thing to do, really). Lord De Vil, who loved dearly Cruella, was always at the House Of Lords ( and he didn't always bring her expensive gifts, what a fool!). Her best friend Anita is nice but she's destined to be a nanny! And though her governess, Miss Pricket allows Cruella to learn every subject that Cruella loves, even those addressed only to boys; she remains an in-between!

Now, if I'm writing this review with this tone, it's not because I didn't love this book, quite the contrary. It's what I've felt during this reading: everything is hypocrisy or irony in Cruella's social-circle or life. Evil Thing aims at showing how miserable your life can become when you look for love and approval towards people that will never express the same amount of devotion to you. The destructive, burning desire of Cruella isn't a fur coat: it's what it was supposed to grant her that she craved for.

It's with burning tears rolling down my cheeks and a taste of disgust in my mouth that I finished this book.
Cruella might be rude, and insane but all of it is actually quite understandable. She did deserve to be locked up and never released. But what about the other women of this story that are free to go, living beautiful lives based on Cruella's misfortune? That's real life, unfortunately. Happy endings aren't for everybody and this a reality that Serena Valentino portrays here with brilliance.

Cruella is so much more than an evil thing ( and is the title of this novel only referring to Cruella? Is it even referring to her, or to the veil of darkness that cursed her ( yes, surprising, huh?) and changed her? She is a sassy, brave woman, determined to please everyone, willing to honor the promise that she made to her father. Not just a devil woman, would-be puppy murderer, selfish, rude, impulsive, reckless and superficial person.

And as Belle saw the man behind the beast, we see the human behind the shrew.

I've never thought another book in this series could top Mother Knows Best. But it did. In my humble opinion, it's the best book in the series. And my favorite one. I hope you'll enjoy it when it will hit the shelves on June, 7. That it will open your eyes about your life as it did for me. Sometimes, the oppression of society pushes us to unleash the truth, no matter what it will cost us. Life is only worth living if somebody loves us. That's why we make everything to be loved and accepted, like Cruella.

Profile Image for Christie K.Rowling.
523 reviews94 followers
December 5, 2022
Este tomo es de mis favoritos de la serie de los Villanos. En él se nos cuenta la transformación de Cruella, tomando como punto de partida su niñez.

La historia de Cruella es realmente triste y es muy frustrante ver como no es capaz de enfocar más allá de la pasión que siente hacía su madre.

Con esta entrega se hace un parón respecto a los nexos que han existido entre los anteriores libros aunque la historia se conecta de alguna manera con los tomos anteriores.

Ojalá pudiera dar una opinión más extensa porque hay muchos puntos que podrían ser comentados...pero no merece la pena desmigar la historia, así que os animo con su lectura!!

¿El fin justifica los medios?
Profile Image for Daniel.
2,388 reviews36 followers
May 5, 2020
This review originally published in Looking FOr a Good Book. Rated 3.75 of 5

One of my favorite Disney movies is one that seems the least Disney-like - no princes or princesses, no kings or queens, no beasts or monsters to be slain or under-estimated, no curses, no magic ... just good storytelling and one very frightening villain. So when I saw this new book from Disney-Hyperion, it caught my eye and I really wanted to read it.

Apparently this is a series - Disney villains get to tell their back stories.

Cruella De Vil was raised in a wealthy home. Her mother was always more focused on wardrobe and style and making sure Cruella looked as good as possible - there was a status to maintain. Her father simply adored her - she was definitely a daddy's girl. Her father left the family fortune to Cruella as long as she never married or at least had her father take the De Vil family name (Cruella is the last of the family line). He also insisted that she not sign the money over to her mother because he felt that her mother was careless with money and would throw it away.

Away at school, Cruella's best (and only) friend was Anita. Anita even visited the De Vil home - much to the fury of Cruella's mother who saw Anita as beneath her daughter. When given a Dalmatian puppy named Perdita as a gift from her father on her 18th birthday, she later gave it to Anita when the puppy peed on her fur coat. And when Anita turned Cruella down on an opportunity to travel around the world (because she, Anita, knew she needed to get some skill in order to get a job and support herself) Cruella took it as a personal affront. And so began Cruella's descent into true evilness.

I definitely have mixed feelings on the book. Cruella is a wonderful villain (in the 1961 animated move - I never saw the live action remake) and I don't think I need to know what made her evil or that she was turned by a domineering mother. If anything, it might make her less evil. We have the thoughts in the back of our minds that she's just misunderstood and could be brought around to reason if given the chance. And that doesn't help the original story, does it? It does, of course, sell books to new readers.

I'm not as familiar with Dodie Smith's original Dalmation books, so it's hard to say how much of this backstory comes from the original source, but I am now curious and I've pulled my old copies of 101 Dalmations and The Starlight Barking off the shelves to give them a read.

Looking for a good book? Evil Thing by Serena Valentino is part of Disney's 'Villains' book series which gives Cruella De Vil a backstory so that we can understand how/why she became so thoroughly evil. It is well-written, but do we really need to know why she's as nasty as she is?

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Annette.
2,616 reviews117 followers
May 8, 2021
After the previous Villain Tale I was quite curious how Valentino would continue. The Odd Sisters felt a little like an ending, although it had an open end with room for more. I was therefore quite excited to pick up this book. Also because I always found Cruella a fascinating character. I never really liked the movies, but Cruella as a character was a different story. Because I always felt there had to be a story there.

In this book Cruella tells her story. Even though this book is not part of the ongoing timeline, Valentino manages to add some nods and hints towards the other villain tales. But just because it's not really a part of that ongoing timeline it felt even more like a Villain tale than all the others. After all, literally ALL the focus was on Cruella. This was, from start to finish and without anyone else stealing any of the spotlight, her story.

And I liked how Valentino managed to make Cruella, who is very much a stereotyped cartoon character, into a real human being. Of course we know throughout the story where she will end up and who she will eventually become and I think that was exactly why the story was in a way also somehow sad. Because if push comes to shove, all this version of Cruella ever wanted, was to be loved by her mother.

Although the book tells us in the end what does eventually happen, most of the book is original material. We learn about Cruella's childhood, about her time at school, how she and Anita became friends and how she and Anita were driven apart and we learn about all the tragedies Cruella had to deal with. In the afterword Valentino explains exactly what I had felt myself so strongly. Cruella was quite clearly not born bad. Life made her eventually who she became and one different choice and everything would have been different.
Profile Image for Jeana.
129 reviews24 followers
June 10, 2020
Evil Thing is book number 7 in the villain series and it was just as amazing as the rest of the stories. While this one is completely different than the others I thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. There is a small part of the fairy-tale world and an important tie-in with a pair of earrings but outside of that this is a dark and sad story of Cruella DeVille and her slow progression into insanity that takes place in the human world. The story starts with her childhood in a very wealthy home where Cruella truly doesn't know what true love is or the forms it comes in. She seeks her mother's approval and attention from the start and she continually gets hit with tragedy and grief. As the reader one can't help but hold their breath and feel their own heart break for we are all too familiar with the demise of Cruella Deville. I highly recommend and another amazing story to go with the Villain Series.

Thank you to Net Galley for an advanced review copy.
Profile Image for Kristin Katsuye.
532 reviews3 followers
May 10, 2020
I was lucky enough to receive this book as an early read. I highly anticipated reading this as I love Disney and love a good retelling. I wanted to know what drove Cruella De Vil to become the villain we are used to seeing her be. I enjoyed this story but the only reason it isn't rated spectacular to me is I felt the feelings in this were lacking. I didn't feel empathy for her or come to see why she became the way she is. I did start to feel for her when her father passed and how badly she was treated by her manipulated mother. I just wish it was more drawn upon with those aspects. I can see the turning points at work in her life and the choices made from her experiences from the way she was brought up but there wasn't enough feeling to it.

I liked how this story was written like an interview from Cruella herself of her life portrayal I just don't really think it was executed as well. An example of how this interview theme is played out well is in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Now, Evelyn Hugo isn't as villainous as Cruella De Vil, I just can't help feeling there were things lacking in this format of storytelling.

I will read on as I enjoy these additions in the series. One I really enjoyed was the wicked stepmother in Snow White. That one was really enjoyable and I felt for the stepmother.
Profile Image for Heather .
289 reviews
July 15, 2021
Once again, I am going against popular opinion. This story was disappointing. But it could be because I just saw the new Disney release of the live-action movie Cruella, which I loved!!

This story was slow and boring. There were too many repeated phrases both in memories and dialogue and repeated details of her relationship with her mother. The writing stumbled along; never creating atmosphere or attachment to the characters.

I have read all of the Villain series except the Odd Sisters. I haven't loved any of them, but get sucked in by the covers and the hope the 'this one' will be better.
Profile Image for Ashley.
119 reviews21 followers
May 4, 2020
I was really disappointed with this book in the series. It just didn't seem to belong. Maybe as a stand alone novel after the series was finished. So far all the previous books tied in together to continue the story of Circe and the Odd Sisters. There was just no forward movement here. Overall it was a nice backstory to who Cruella is and why she is that way.
Profile Image for Kasey Giard.
Author 1 book55 followers
September 1, 2020
EVIL THING wasn’t the story I expected. This is the second book I’ve read in the Villains series by Serena Valentino. I read and reviewed MISTRESS OF ALL EVIL in 2017.

Especially early on in EVIL THING, I felt like Cruella De Vil was as likeable as Lady Mary from Downton Abbey. She was dismissive and sometimes cold, but there were a few people she loved. Her relationship with her mother was complex and tragic. I liked getting to explore her relationship with Anita and learn more about their history.

Some things appear murky in the story. Cruella receives a pair of jade earrings from her father that are rumored to be cursed. He thinks of this as a fun story to amuse her, but she wonders if the curse could be true. It’s never really clear if the curse is in fact a part of what drives Cruella De Vil’s manic behavior. It seemed like there were a lot of losses that, when combined together, drove her over the edge.

Overall, this was a pretty quick read, and a story that actually makes one of Disney’s most bizarre villains surprisingly sympathetic and reveals an interesting origin story. I think fans of the Villains series will be pleased with this newest book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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