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Hello, Cruel Heart

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  608 ratings  ·  218 reviews
An electric new story of teenage Cruella de Vil in an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios Live Action Film, Cruella.

Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in Lon
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 6th 2021 by Disney Press
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Holly Letson It does seem to come across that she has a disorder that causes her to have multiple personalities, and that Cruella does eventually take over as the …moreIt does seem to come across that she has a disorder that causes her to have multiple personalities, and that Cruella does eventually take over as the dominant one.(less)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Hello, Cruel Heart is an origin story, of sorts, for one of my favorite villains ever, Cruella de Vil.

The timing for this release is perfect for Cruella fans, as we also have a live-action Cruella film releasing at the end of May, starring Emma Stone.

We all know, I just love when a villain gets her time to shine.

In this story, set in 1967-London, we follow a 16-year old, Estella, Cruella's true name, as she branches out for the first time and tries to find her place in the world.

Nilufer Ozmekik
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Once upon a time Cruella deVil was not a villanelle! She was just 16 years old orphan girl who tries to survive by stealing things at Swinging London in sixties! And her name is Estella who has been taught the crafts of being a skillful thief by her two accomplices Horace and Jasper who also share their squatters abode with her.

She’s truly passionate about fashion and she has real talent and quite exquisite taste about it. When her path crosses with two rich twins Magda and Richard, she’s dire
La Crosse County Library
"Estella didn't cry. She hardened."

I think those lines from late in the story sum up the heart of this new teen novel by Maureen Johnson.

According to her website, Hello, Cruel Heart is "an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios live action film Cruella." Since I'd recently seen the trailer for the movie (starring Emma Stone and opening May 28th) and enjoyed Johnson's "Truly Devious" mystery series, I thought I'd give this tale of a teenage Cruella de Vil a try. And who d
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, yes, I am super excited for the new movie 'Cruella' to come out. So it's really sad for me to say this.. but I was so disappointed and underwhelmed with Hello, Cruel Heart. I think the reason why was because I read two Cruella retelling books around one another. Which I probably should have dove into a completely different book in-between them. Maybe two different books.

I just couldn't stop comparing them to one anot
May 06, 2021 rated it liked it
This was fast paced and it holds your attention once you start reading. Maureen Johnson knows how to set an atmosphere without being too flamboyant and does not natter on endlessly with dialogue. There is a nice balance between the two in this quasi-short take on how Estella became Cruella but not really. There is parental loss, mental health, romance, betrayal and heartbreak in this concise and easy going read. I will say that I wish the incident involving her mother was expanded upon more but ...more
Apr 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, I was really into this. A Cruella YA novel with her backstory? That sounds awesome, right?

Turns out, the trailer for the movie (Walt Disney Studios Live-Action Film, Cruella) that inspired the book is more thrilling in a few minutes than the whole book. I'm sure I'll love the movie, it's like I can already tell I'll love it. The book however was too slow for me. I was hoping for more action or intrigue/drama I guess? I don't know there was just something missing that made it meh instea
May 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
I’m not usually a movie/tv tie-in reader, but I’ll read anything by Maureen Johnson. And this didn’t prove me wrong. Even not being my top choice for main character, I really came to like Estella and her fashion.
Elyse (ElyseReadsandSpeaks)
This was a fast, enjoyable read. If you're even remotely interested in Cruella, I think you'll at least find the story interesting enough for a quick read.

Was this layered with a rich backstory and multi-faceted characters? Nah. In a nutshell, Cruella comes from nothing, creates a found family with Jasper & Horace, sells out to be friends with the rich kids and then that comes back to bite her in the ass. After all, we know she ends up with Jasper & Horace. We've seen 101 Dalmations. No spoilers
Taylor (TaysInfiniteThoughts)
Book Review | Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson

Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson
YA, Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Disney Press | April 6th, 2021
3/5 Stars

Estella has been an orphan for years. Staying alive by stealing only what she needed and living in an abandoned building with her friends Jasper and Horace. When Estella meets Magda and Richard Moresby-Plum, she is thrust into this whole new world of the rich and she begins to contemplate whether she deserves more in life. Estella begi
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: z-2021-feb, arc

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Full review will be posted on my blog on April 5th.

To call this a retelling of Cruella is a bit of a stretch if I’m being honest. This is fully a historical fiction novel, with the concept of Cruella as an afterthought. This is very clearly a setup to be directly connected with the new Cruella movie, which is fine. The pacing of the book was strange, and whil
Ashley Dang
The origin story of Cruella deVil except, her name is Estella and she is a thief/designer just trying to make it. The story is set up as a sort of connection to the upcoming live action film ( which surprisingly I just saw the trailer for the other day and it definitely makes sense). Estella is an orphan who makes a living by stealing, one day on one of her fabric stealing runs she runs into two rich teens, Magda and Richard, who take her into their rich lifestyle. Soon she finds herself invited ...more
Danielle Lee
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: disney
3.5 stars ⭐️

An enjoyable read! This plot gave a great backstory as to who Cruella is and her relation to the other characters in the story we know about her, 101 Dalmatians! I’m really excited to see the movie on Friday to see how Cruella’s life plays out!

I truly enjoyed getting to know Cruella! Cruella is actually the alter ego of the young Estella, an aspiring fashion designer who has quite a rough childhood! Maureen Johnson includes character traits that really gave me a good look at how Est
Krystal  (Nerdy_book_lover_1987)
This was a quick fast paced read about Cruella in her teenage years before she became so cold hearted and what made her become that way. It was nice to see a back story to the ever popular clothes maker before her puppy stealing days.
laur gluchie
Feb 23, 2021 marked it as to-read
Shelves: netgalley
I have received a digital Advance Reader’s Copy of this book through NetGalley. This has not affected my rating in any way.
Jun 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
A fun easy and quick book to read. It’s not really a Cruella novel as this is more of a story of a young girl finding herself with brief mentions of Cruella as another personality
jana [ bookishwiccan ]
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, arcs
Thoroughly enjoyed this Disney Villains story revolving around Cruella De Ville. I always found her interesting and wanted a look into her past to see how she ended up the way she did, and this was a perfect back story. Definitely would recommend.
Lisa D
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! The evolution of cruella ! The famous character from 101 Dalmatians! Really excited for the movie soon! Love this author!
Jenny Ashby
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
I read 101 Dalmatians at least 20 times growing up so learning that this was an origin story of Cruella had me hooked right away. It wasn't as enthralling as the original Dodie Smith book, but it was a good story nonetheless enlivened by Johnson's always entertaining writing. Watching Estrella scratch out a living and finding hope as she managed to rise above mere survival was great. I kept reminding myself that I shouldn't get too attached to her because I know she's going to be a villain befor ...more
Suzanne (The Bookish Libra)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa ~ Missy (FrayedBooks)
read this and more reviews on Frayed Books:


This was delightful! I went into this story with really no expectations, and not even knowing much of what this story was about besides Cruella origin story, she’s a fashion designer, and this was set in the late 1960s. I love Maureen Johnson’s writing which is why I picked this up and I’m so very glad I did!

This book is “inspired” by the upcoming Disney movie ‘Cruella’, but I should mention, I have not even seen the
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Netgalley and Disney Publishing for an advanced copy of this book.

The trailer for Cruella came out last week, so watching that and reading Hello Cruel Heart really got me even more excited for the movie.

During the London summer of 1967, Hello Cruel Heart follows Estella as she goes from stealing wallets of tourists at Harrods to stealing the heart of the rich young bourgeoisie of the city with her natural sense of fashion.

It felt strange rooting for someone to succeed that we know w
May 25, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a fun young adult read in advance of next month's Book of the Mouse Club podcast episode. I had the chance to see the film in advance, and I think this book does a solid job of tying well into the film but is different enough to stand alone. It takes place before the main events of the film but shares some early flashbacks to her childhood. I appreciated getting to know the character deeper and think teen readers will relate well to Estella's age at this point in the book and easily be ...more
Mar 24, 2021 rated it liked it
I really, desperately wanted to love this book as a huge Johnson fan, but it was not for me. I felt the plot too heavily relied on the reader wanting to find out how she becomes Cruella, rather than the plot of the book actually pulling you in. I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading to find out what would happen next, nor did I develop attachments to the character. Super bummed, but you may love it a lot more if you’re a huge Cruella fan.
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was Cruella always so evil? Was there ever any good in her life? This story tells of her life as a teen and her "family" situation. A quick read for younger fans of Disney ...more
Amanda Johnson Barton
Great beginning to Cruella's origin story! Fingers crossed for a part 2. ...more
4.5 stars, I literally read it in a day so it's definitely entertaining!
Full review here:
Joanna Bennett
Mar 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

I requested to read this from Netgalley for two reasons. 1.) I am obsessed with all things Disney and 2.) I love Maureen Johnson and her writing.

This was a very quick read and one that wasn’t a bore to read. If you go into this thinking you are getting a backstory of Cruella herself, you’ll be saddened by the fact that in this book she is just an alter-ego who is in the mind of Estella (if that’s what you would
Apr 27, 2021 rated it liked it
Light-hearted escapist reading, set in 1960s London. The origin story of Cruella DeVille, whose beginning is filled with trauma. How a formerly homeless orphan comes to live smartly by her wits, and with her design skills attracts the posh and soon to be famous. Then something happens...Nice use of historical references to music and places of the 1960s. Fun read for younger teens.
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Cute story about Cruella's teenage years. This one does NOT go along with the "Evil Thing" book that came out last year (they are two very different books where Cruella has very different backgrounds). Still, it's a fun story that shows us her relationship with Jasper and Horace in 1967 London. ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Loved the cover and loved the book. It exceeded my expectations! I don't want to give anything away so I will say....I enjoyed it so much I read in one day. I liked this take on Cruella before she became a villain. Vivid colors and characters. ...more
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