I was really excited to read Poor Unfortunate Soul but Serena Valentino as the book had been on my TBR for ages. As I’ve probably mentioned a gazillion times, I’m a huge Disney fan! I’m also loving retellings lately so an Ursula back story sounded like the perfect book to me. I love a villain with a purpose and I was hoping this book would give me that. It was a decent enough story that I sped through, but clearly as a series towards children, this wasn’t quite what I expected.
There will be a few spoilers here and there in my review. It shouldn’t ruin the story too much but bear this in mind before reading.
The beginning of the story was really interesting as it gave an insight into Ursula’s childhood and how her sea witch form was unleashed. I loved that it made the normal people seem cruel which made me sympathise with poor Ursula. This was clearly going to be a tragic back story and I was so ready for that. The story jumped to the present day so we could see how this terrible start had turned Ursula into the creature we all know. Suddenly there were four witches I’d never even heard of. This really confused me at first as they weren’t Disney characters, but I started to assume that Valentino’s villain retellings were related. Despite initially missing introductions of these seemingly important witches, the story soon started to make sense as I just accepted their presence. These new witches appeared to know all of the Disney villains, and consequently the princesses, as many were mentioned in their previous meddling. This was an unusual and individual take, not necessarily one I would go with but I’d like to read more of the collection and see how this works.
Whilst the story was interesting and I somewhat enjoyed reading a simple book about a film I have always loved, I wish the story had focused more on Ursula’s past rather than the events around The Little Mermaid. I knew why she was evil from the opening chapter but I wish I was given more in depth knowledge about her difficult life and how she felt about that. After finishing the book I now understand that I probably need to start from the beginning to understand the importance of the new characters and why they appear in every story. I assume there’s a greater purpose to them and therefore Ursula and the other Disney villains, too.
This is a pretty short review by my standards and I feel like I haven’t said much, but I have summed up my opinions. In general, Poor Unfortunate Soul was a basic book and a quick read. It was an interesting take on the villain but wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. This would be a good book for young children who already have an interest in Disney, but I would recommend starting with the first published book. I’d be likely to pick up another one if I found it at a reasonable price (plus I love a good book collection and these are pretty!), but I won’t be racing to grab another just yet.