In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains' points of view.
These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like "Medusa," Sherlock Holmes, and "Jack and the Beanstalk" provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains' acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage--and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!
This book is a collection of short stories where one author is paired with a BookTuber/Book Blogger who will write a companion essay to their story. Because this is a book of short stories and companion essays I will be reviewing each one individually. I am keeping each review fairly short to avoid spoilers.
3 STARS (the book as a whole)
The Blood of Imuriv by Renée Ahdieh
This one took a second to get into but once I did I really liked it! I was very much interested in the story and the ending took me by surprise. I really liked the writing style and the dialogue.
The Evil Vaccine: Keep The Darkness at Bay. Get Vaccinated Today! by Christine Riccio
This was a cute little collection of bullet points that explain what to do if you have certain villainous tendencies but it didn't blow me away. I did find a few pretty funny and the writing was fun.
Jack by Ameriie
This is another that took a second to get into but I really enjoyed the dialogue and friendship between the giant and Jack. The story definitely left me a bit stunned, which is always fun.
Giants and Tyrants by Tina Burke
This is a really good companion piece to Ameriie's story and I really enjoyed the way Tina Burke split up the different sections to explain the story a bit more.
Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani
I'm not sure if it was the format (I really don't like full on text formats) or the high school setting but the entire thing seemed a bit flat. It was too stereotypical for me and I wasn't really into it. Which is a bummer because I love King Arthur stories.
The Bad Girl Hall of Fame by Samantha Lane
I actually liked the companion essay more than I liked the story. Honestly it is a bit of a bummer because the pretty cool story Samantha seems to be setting up isn't the story we were provided by Chainani. I also liked her comparison between villain stories and coming of age stories.
Shirley & Jim by Susan Dennard
This was too cheesy for me. I love a young mystery solving girl as much as anyone but this really fell flat. The writing felt like an adult writing as a teen and it made it hard to really care about the story because it didn't feel genuine. The format is written as letters but they don't seem like actual letters. It was very info dumping and it made the letter format also not seem genuine.
Dear Sasha, The 411 For Villains by Sasha Alsberg
This wasn't anything really special or interesting. It felt tacked on at the end versus it being a companion piece. It was a bit boring at times and heavily cheesy. However, I found the writing pretty good.
The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni
In this case I really liked the writing style but I didn't care for the story. The end was really cool but ti was a chore to get to it.
Will The Villain Please Stand Up? by Sophia Lee
This actually made me like the story more than I did originally because it was kind of like getting a behind the scenes look at how the story came to be. I still didn't like the story but I appreciated it more after this.
The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer
I absolutely loved this. I love Meyer's writing style and the fact that I was immediately pulled into the story and I couldn't come up for air until I finished. I felt for the villain and even if I knew she was not making the best decisions I still wanted her to succeed.
Villain or Hero? You Decide! by Zoë Herdt
This was really cute. You're given a little quiz similar to the ones at the back of teen magazines. It wasn't anything mind blowing but it was fun to put yourself in the shoes of a villain and I found it to be a cute companion to Meyer's story.
Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pontrigger warnings: rape and victim blaming.
I really liked this one.. The writing style was really pretty and the story had me intrigued pretty early on. I think the author does a great job showing how rape and sexual assault victims are treated and However, the story could sometimes drag in places. I can't deny that what happens in the story at the end makes me really sad, even if I saw it coming.
Without The Evil in the World, How Do We See Good? by Benjamin Alderson
Ben's companion essay to this short story is a good one. I could hear his voice in his writing which I really liked. He talks about what he likes about the story and the important aspects. I liked reading his perspective.
Death Knell by Victoria Schwab
WHOA. I loved this, so much. I cannot explain to you how much I loved this. I borrowed this book from the library but I took photos of this story on my phone so I can read it whenever I wanted to, if that's any indication. As always, Schwab's writing is beautiful and captivating.
Dear Death by Jesse George
I didn't know Jesse was such a great writer, but I loved this personal letter he wrote to death. I think it's well written and it definitely brings out my emotions. I hope Jesse writes more in the future because he obviously has talent.
You, You, It's All About You by Adam Silvera
This is the first story that I feel I wasn't satisfied by the end. The other stories, although I definitely want more, were satisfying as short stories. But this left me wanting more and wanting to know more about the awesome world Silvera created. It is so interesting and dark. I loved it. And of course, like always with Silvera, the writing was great.
Behind The Villain's Masks by Catriona Feeny
Like many of these BookTube companion pieces, Cat's writing reminds me a lot of how she talks in her videos. Which wasn't a bad thing, I really liked hearing her voice come through in her writing. The essay itself was simple but definitely interesting. Although it didn't have a quiz like Zoë Herdt's piece, it had the same kind of vibe where the reader is to look inside themselves and walk in the shoes of a villain. I liked it a lot.
Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith
The writing was fine but I really didn't care much about the story. It is the second Angel of Death/Death type of story in this collection (the first being Death Knell by Victoria Schwab) and this one was definitely the weaker of the two. I don't want to compare them, but when there are two stories with similar premises it's hard not to. The story itself I don't think I would have liked even without Schwab's story being in the collection because it focuses around Julian, a character I really didn't like. For someone who is supposed to be the "Angel of Death" he acted like a whiny teenager who tries too hard to be edgy.
Julian Powell: Teen Psycho Extraordinare by Raeleen Lemay
I liked knowing why Raeleen is so intrigued by psychos and reading about characters that are psychotic. However, I kind of hated the main character (and the story) and she loved him (and the story) so it was hard to relate. Her writing was good though!
Indigo and Shade by April Genebieve Tucholke
I really liked this story. It was a little predictable but the writing was really pretty and it kept my interest. The only thing I wish we had a little more information of is the big reveal/how it all works (trying to be vague because spoilers).
Glamorized Recovery: Expectations vs. Reality by Whitney Atkinson
I really like Whitney's discussion between villains and heroes and how they both have similar struggles but it is their choices that define them. I liked her writing style a lot and I actually wish this was a bit longer because I found it really interesting.
Sera by Nicola Yoon
It took a moment to get into but once I did I was hooked. I need a whole book of this story ASAP. It was definitely one of my favorites. The writing was well done, the story was addicting, and the ending was so great. I loved this one.
The Girl's Guide to Villainy by Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy
This was okay. I felt like it was trying a bit hard but I did find it cute. The end of Sera was so good that when I flipped the page and started reading this I was bit underwhelmed. But it reads quickly and the writing was fine. I liked the content to a certain extent but a part of me couldn't help but think it felt unoriginal and generic.
Overall I had fun with this collection of stories. I do wish that the stories came after the companion pieces, but I understand that they were trying not to spoil the reader. However, having the stories before the companion pieces almost always left each little section on a low note versus on a high note. I am happy I read this and I now have a few authors I need to read more of their works and I have some BookTubers that I hope become novelists themselves.