Twisted Tales: Let It Go – Jen Calonita

twisted 4The Twisted Tales series are stories about films and characters we know and love from Disney films, but putting one twist into the story that either changes everything, gives something additional in the middle, or extends the story beyond the familiar endings. I wrote about the series as a whole here, and purposefully held onto reading Let It Go so I could read it while on my Disney trip last week. I started it on the coach on the way to the airport, didn’t actually finish it until this week. Turned out, I was way too tired while travelling to read, and by the time we got back to the hotel in the evening, I was too exhausted to spend more than a small amount of time reading about this alternative version of Anna and Elsa’s story.

Anyway, this was an ideal book to take away, and the bits I did read, I enjoyed, though not as much as the others in the series. But a big charm of this series is that everyone has a different favourite. It’s handled by three different authors, with three different writing styles, and it ensures every book feels unique.

With Let It Go, (which, as far as I can tell, is Conceal, Don’t Feel in the US) I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed some of the others. I like when the story is turned completely on its head, presenting new scenes and putting the characters in different, new settings. To me, this one felt like too close to the source material, scenes rehashed from the film and put into the written word. But this aspect of it is something other readers might thoroughly enjoy.

When we join Anna and Elsa in Let It Go, it’s to find that neither know of the other. Elsa lives as princess with her parents, while Anna lives in a small village overlooking the city. Both feel something is missing in their lives, but neither quite knows what it is. As the story unfolds, we discover that when they were taken to the trolls, after Elsa hit Anna with her magic, Elsa interrupted the spell, causing a curse that means they cannot be near each other. To protect them, the trolls cast a spell to ensure they forgot one another, and the kingdom forgot there was another princess.

The twist is good, and in some places executed really well, bringing forward the sense of sisterly love that made the film feel so fresh in the first place. The main thing I disliked, as stated above, was the way scenes from the film felt repeated. Dialogue is lifted almost word for word, song lyrics feel forced in, and scenes take place exactly as they do in the film, just in a different way.

Much of the novel feels forced towards the same point as the film, leaving the twists to be clearly visible and marked, and meaning the last part just felt like rehash. It feels like more could have been done with it, really.

Saying that, however, Calonita does have a fantastic way with words. The descriptions – of the city, the village, the icy mountains and the valley where the trolls live – are brilliant, and she has a clear, deep understanding of the characters. Despite the situation they’re in, they feel like the characters we know from the films, and they react how you’d expect them to react. The love elements are handled really well, emphasising the sisterly love but also allowing more time for relationships to develop, to show why Hans is actually present, and why Kristoff is willing to run off with Anna, in search of someone he’s never met. The threads of the story are woven well, and although this wasn’t my favourite of the series, I did enjoy it, and if you’re a fan of Frozen, it’s definitely worth  checking out.

(As a side note, the two women I work with who also read this series absolutely loved the book, much more than I did! Like I said, it’s one thing I really love about the series as a whole – the varied reactions to each book.)

Twisted Tales Books

Twisted TalesWelcome to day three of my Disney blog themed posts, during which I will be in both Disneyland AND Walt Disney Studios. Exciting times. I am also now officially thirty, which is odd cause in my head I’m still somewhere in my early 20s. Today I’m going to talk about one of my favourite book series, and don’t forget you can enter my Twitter giveaway to win any Disney themed book of your choice – details at the end!

Twisted Tales

Twisted Tales are a series of books, written by three different authors. Each book tackles twisted 1a Disney film, inserting a twist into the story we know and love – A Whole New World asks ‘What if Aladdin never found the lamp?’ Reflection – ‘What if Mulan had to travel to the underworld?’ Mirror, Mirror – ‘What if the Evil Queen poisoned the prince?’ etc. There are currently seven books in the series, with two more coming out soon.

This is probably my current favourite book series, and it’s introduced me to three fantastic authors. Each book is skillfully twisted 2written and thought out, with the characters we love, yet giving them just enough changes to make the story feel fresh and exciting. And so far, the choices for stories has been really good, with a focus mainly on the princesses, but exploring a couple of others as well.

The only released one I haven’t yet read (at the time of writing) is Conceal, Don’t Feel/Let It Go (it seems to have a different title everywhere I look), which is focused on Frozen. I’ve been saving it for my Disney trip, so perhaps by the time you read this, I might have read it. Either way, look out for my review!

twisted 3The three authors are Liz Braswell, Elizabeth Lim, and Jen Calonita. Each have their own distinctive writing style, yet still feel like they match the stories really well. And it’s clear from the writing and characters how much love they have for these tales – Elizabeth Lim recently released Spin the Dawn (my review is here), a Mulan retelling, which is definitely worth checking out. Not to mention Reflection is currently my favourite of this series.

But this is the kind of series where everyone has their own favourite,. There are three of us in work who get every book, as soon as it comes out, and we each prefer different ones. Overall, the series has proved imaginative, with interesting storiestwisted 7 about the characters and adding further depths to these worlds.

In some, the book is set in the middle of the film, either changing the outcome of the rest of the story – as in A Whole New World – or giving more weight to middle-scenes, the book taking place in a contained moment which feels like it could fit easily into the classic animated film, such as Reflection. In others, the twist comes right at the very end of the film, giving us a chance to see what happens to the heroes if they don’t actually win, as in Part of Your World, which explores what happens to the kingdoms under and above the sea, if Ursula actually won.

twisted 5If you are a Disney fan, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. With talented authors telling fantastic stories, this series really does add a lot to classic animated films, and I can’t wait to see what comes out next, after Elizabeth Lim tackle’s Cinderella and Liz Braswell takes on Peter Pan.

 

The Series, In Order

A Whole New World – Liz Braswell – What if Aladdin never found the lamp?

Once Upon a Dream – Liz Braswell – What if the sleeping beauty never woke up?

As Old as Time – Liz Braswell – What if Belle’s mother cursed the beast?

Reflection – Elizabeth Lim – What if Mulan had to travel to the underworld?

Part of Your World – Liz Braswell – What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula?

Mirror, Mirror – Jen Calonita – What if the Evil Queen poisoned the prince?

Conceal, Don’t Feel/Let It Go – Jen Calonita – What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other?

Upcoming

So This Is Love? – Elizabeth Lim – What if Cinderella never tried on the glass slipper?

Straight on Till Morning – Liz Braswell – What if Wendy first travelled to Neverland with Captain Hook?

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Giveaway

I am currently hosting a Disney book themed giveaway on Twitter. Just follow that link, make sure you’re following me on there, and retweet. You could, if you so wanted, pick any of the fantastic Twisted Tales books, or Elizabeth Lim’s Spin the Dawn. Good luck!

Blogtober Day 5: Top 5 Disney Villains

Blogtober Day 5.pngDay One: Spooky TBR

Day Two: October Releases

Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List

Day Four: Cosy Reading Nook

Anniek’s Library: Challenge List

Anyone who has spent any time following me on Twitter probably knows by now that I love Disney. Disney films bring a lot of comfort to me, I was lucky enough to spend my fifth birthday in Walt Disney World, and I’ll be spending my 30th at Disneyland Paris, because I am, indeed, a very lucky woman. And, let’s face it, Disney villains are freaking awesome, otherwise we wouldn’t have had a whole spin off dedicated to Maleficent.

But how to sort them into a top 5? It feels like there are so many different directions this could go. Top most stylish? Top 5 best songs? Top deserve-their-own-live-action-film?

I’ve pondered this, and I’ve come to a conclusion.

This list will be my top 5 most frightening villains – from an adult’s perspective. The darkest villains. Sure, Maleficent can turn into a dragon, and the Evil Queen is terrifying when she transforms into an old hag, but have you ever stopped to think about the villains who are actually abusive? Or sing about, well, rape?

Top 5 Terrifying Disney Villains

1. Lotso

lotso
Ain’t he just an adorable, fluffy bear of evil

Lotso, the pink cuddly bear from Toy Story 3, is evil. He twists the minds of those around him, convinces them they’re unwanted, unloved, and only he can give their lives purpose. And he tries to destroy anyone who tries to escape, or who doesn’t fall in line. Lotso is a cult leader; one intent on clinging to power, anyway he can.

2. Lady Tremaine

lady tremaine
Can we have a nice step-mother for once, please, Disney?

Ahh, Lady Tremaine, the widow with two daughters who remarries and then, after the death of her second husband, enforces a strict life of servitude on Cinderella. I’ve seen the argument that Tremaine is a grieving widow, but plenty of people grieve without inflicting child abuse on those under their care. And that’s not to mention the way she treats her daughters – yep, they don’t get out lightly either. She forces them to dress a certain way, to act a certain way, all with the aim of finding a rich husband. She uses her daughters, step- and bio, just to try and better her own life, rather than ensuring her daughters are able to live full, happy lives. She’s selfish and abusive, and if Cinderella was set now, social workers would be knocking down their door before the Fairy Godmother could say bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.

3. Judge Claude Frollo

judge claude frollo
Who is the monster and who is the man?

Frollo is a villain who, as I get older, gets worse and worse. There’s so much more to him than I thought as a kid, because quite frankly, so much of his character went straight over my head. For starters, he’s a religious fanatic – he doesn’t follow Christ’s teachings, but uses God and Christianity as a shield for his own actions, positioning himself as a champion of good and using religion as an excuse to enact his own evil, cruel policies. He threatens people. He’s the reason Quasimodo’s mother dies in the first place, as he chases her down and onto the steps of the cathedral (though seriously, where was the archdeacon when she was banging on the doors asking to be let in?) and he almost DROWNS A DAMN BABY. He convinces Quasimodo he cares for him, keeps him locked up and warns him against going outside. Like Mother Gothel, Frollo’s power over our hero is only there because the hero loves them back, because Quasimodo and Rapunzel love the people who claim to be their parents. And on top of that, HE FULL ON WANTS TO RAPE ESMERALDA. Hellfire is one of the most underrated, terrifying Disney songs, where Frollo basically states that if he cannot have her, no one can. Manipulative and abusive, Frollo feels sometimes way too realistic, with the kind of attitude, belief and power that combined, make him a very dangerous man indeed.

4. Hans

hans.jpg
Hans is the guy who posts on AITA; “I convinced a girl I loved her after knowing her for 5 minutes so I can take over her kingdom, but I was left with no choice…AITA? I really don’t think I am. Her and her sister should just give me the kingdom I can rule it better”

Seriously, this guy. He targets the sisters, and only goes for Anna because he can instantly see how vulnerable she is, how easy it would be to win her over. He manipulates her, and right at the crucial moment, breaks her poor heart (and probably half the audience’s, too!). And yes, there are fantastic parallels between Hans in Frozen and Littlefinger in Game of Thrones, and not just because THAT moment feels so eerily similar. But Hans is the kind of guy who lures you with his looks, who acts like a nice guy while he’s drip feeding abuse into your ear. Let’s face it, if he and Anna HAD married, it wouldn’t take long before her self-esteem was at all time low and she had no one to turn to but him. He’s more than willing to kill Elsa, not because he thinks she poses a threat, but simply because he wants the kingdom all for himself. What an arsehole.

5. Zira

zira.jpg
‘My Lullaby’ is a massively underrated Disney song.

Okay, here me out.

Zira is the antagonist for the sequel to Lion King, aka the big bad of Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride. She’s a devoted follower of Scar, and as such, sets up her son, Kovu, raising him with the goal of Kovu killing Simba, then taking the pride for himself. Though of course he’d be little more than a puppet king, with Zira as the main power. Zira makes the list because not only is she hellbent on revenge, she is more than willing to use her children to achieve her goal. In some respects, she does care for them – she is honestly upset when one dies – but like Lady Tremaine, there are elements of abuse in the way she treats them, and she is happy to manipulate them in order to achieve her goals. Again, she doesn’t want to see Kovu as alpha male so he can have a better life, she wants it so she can have the power.

And ‘My Lullaby’ is an absolutely awesome song, and a brilliant follow up to Scar’s ‘Be Prepared’.

So there we have it, 5 Disney villains. What are your thoughts? Are there any particular Disney villains you love to hate, or ones you think are downright evil?