Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Review: Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch (Villains #3)

Release Date: July 26, 2016
Author: Serena Valentino
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 196 pages
Source: Library Audio Book

The tale of the sea king's daughter Ariel is a beloved one of losing-and then finding-one's own voice. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the mergirl wants more than her world can offer, and her father demands that she live within the confines of his domain. Her rebelliousness costs the little mermaid her voice and nearly her soul. But the power of good prevails, and Ariel emerges proud and unchanged.

And yet this is only half the story. So what of Ariel's nemesis, Ursula, the sea witch? What led to her becoming so twisted, scorned, and filled with hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account of what might have shaped the sea witch into a detestable and poor unfortunate soul.



Characters: So, obviously this section was supposed to be labeled, "Protagonist" and focus on Ursula and her story arc and character development over the course of the book, however, Ursula isn't really the sole focus of this story, in fact, there are quite a few different perspectives to this story. First of course is Ursula, the Sea Witch sister of King Triton who holds dominion over the Unclaimed Waters. As with other installments in this series, there is an effort made to make Ursula more sympathetic and it did work on me a bit, but that sympathy mostly comes from how harshly she was treated in the past and because this author made a seemingly noble character from the movie into a pretty hands down evil character. We also spend some time with the Odd Sisters, three sister witches who are searching for their missing little sister and come to Ursula for help. Their search for Circe and their love for her do affect them, and while I already find them interesting and mysterious characters, I did find myself enjoying them even more in this installment. Finally, we see from a couple characters I never expected to see again, Princess Tulip and her Nanny from The Beast Within, I mean, I knew Tulip had a small history with Ursula, but I wasn't expecting that she and Nanny would have much, if any role in this story, and yet, here we are. I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed their aspects of the story, particularly Nanny's.

World Building: This has been the hardest section to write because well, there isn't a whole lot of world building that relates directly to Ursula's story. There's so little of this story that's told from Ursula's POV, I mean even the flashbacks we get don't feel as detailed as the ones we see in Fairest of All and The Beast Within, or at least they don't feel as detailed, it's been a while since I read them. There isn't all that much built off of the Little Mermaid movie, other than some adjustments to certain characters and some pretty drive-by exposition relating to Ursula's time in Atlantica and the horrors and prejudices she experienced both on land and in Atlantica. The majority of the world building is spent on the original characters of this series and sort of building out this vast Disney inspired landscapes of kingdoms, which I have to admit it's pretty cool to see Disney's Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty all referenced in the same story and really only connected through the Odd Sisters.

Predictability: Because this story didn't quite go the way I expected, I can't quite say that it's unpredictable. I mean, sure the Disney story being retold, that's more or less predictable, but nearly everything else in this story was practically impossible for me to predict. There are some really good twists in this story and there are a couple that I can't believe I didn't see coming, but I didn't and of course, there were some that completely blew me away.

Ending: I wasn't really sure what to expect when I got to the ending of this book, besides some reflection of the end of the Disney movie, I figured the final climax of the story would be nearly the same, if not completely the same as the Disney movie, which it is, but with some fun little twists. The ending though, I wasn't expecting it to feel less like a standalone and more like a traditional series. Even though the story of The Tale of the Sea Witch is done, the ending of this story makes it very clear that more is coming and while the ending doesn't quite feel like a cliffhanger, I'm still eager to read the next installment!


This book was so very hard to review, not only because it's so short, but because there are a few different perspectives that divide up this already short book. Still the story itself is fantastic, but the elements that I came to this book for, such as Ursula's past and her side of the whole Little Mermaid debacle, well that's where, ironically, the story felt weakest, I wish we would have seen her past in more detail, and I wish we would have seen her opposition's not take such a severe 180°. Still, I really enjoyed the rest and cannot wait to read Mistress of All Evil.


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