The second Disney Descendants novel, Return to the Isle of the Lost, has just been released and I'll be reviewing it very soon, but before I read it, I wanted to play catch-up and read the original book in the series, The Isle of the Lost.
The action takes place, as the title suggests, on the Isle of the Lost, a dingy, soulless place where all the villains were sent when they were banished from the fairytale kingdom of Auradon twenty years ago. We discover the offspring of the famous Disney villains, including Mal (Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty's daughter), Jay (Jafar from Aladdin's son), Evie (the Evil Queen from Snow White's daughter) and Carlos (Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians' son). Life is pretty grim for the residents of the villains' island, especially the younger ones - the food is mouldy, friendships and parental love are sneered at and the only channel on TV is full of adverts from King Beast of Auradon promoting goodness. To make things even more complicated, Mal is out to get Evie, as revenge for a past feud and to prove to her mother that she is capable of great evil too. The problem is, she doesn't really have it in her and despite their villainous heritage and upbringing, the four teens end up becoming, dare they say it, friends. Desperate to access some of the Auradon TV channels that are off-limits to the Isle of the Lost, class swot Carlos builds a receiver which ends up inadvertently piercing a hole in the force-field dome that encompasses the villains' realm, waking up the magic that had been eradicated many years before.
It's an enjoyable read - I loved catching up with the descendants of well-known Disney characters and hearing about how their famous parents had evolved in their new surroundings. The well-known-and-loved-classic-story-with-a-twist concept reminded me of the Twisted Tales series that I recently discovered, in which a classic Disney tale is given a parallel universe-makeover, imagining what could have happened if things had turned out differently. The whole atmosphere of villains with a kind side and princesses who are sometimes less appealing than their evil counterparts was also very reminiscent of the School of Good and Evil series of books, so fans of that series are sure to love this one too. The idea of the villains being trapped within an impenetrable dome also made me think of the recent sci-fi series Under The Dome, bringing the timeless classic tales bang up to date.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading it as a grown-up and now my 11-year-old daughter Juliette has asked to read it too. Being a Disney fan helps to understand some of the in-jokes and references but isn't a pre-requisite for enjoying the novel. I'm looking forward to following the future adventures in the sequel now so look out for that review coming soon.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book in order to share my honest opinion.