Cover Image: City of Villains Book 1

City of Villains Book 1

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Than k you Netgally for the E-arc for an honest review
Sadly I did not finish this book for a few reasons. 

I read 25% of the book and I never felt attached to the characters or plot. There were several plot lines happening simultaneously that I felt pulled in different directions. Knowing there would be Disney characters embedded into the story, I had higher hopes for their involvement. Instead, the characters felt childish against a serial killer and abduction plot.
Was this review helpful?
This book was an interesting premise and mashup, crime thriller meets Disney. At times it worked and other times I was reminded “oh yeah these are basically Disney characters.” Being set in the US, albeit in a fictional city (though reminded me of New York?), threw me off as well. 

Despite that, I did enjoy the book. I wanted to know what happened to Mally and Ursula. I wanted to see Mary Elizabeth succeed, so I kept reading. 

If you’re looking for a different twist and enjoy Disney and mysteries, this book is for you. Though one warning, there was some language and content that surprised me for a Disney book (using Disney fairy tale characters). It didn’t bother me but could be good for parents to know.
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting book. Found it hard to read due to the layout of the arc but I enjoyed the content as I slowly worked through it. Can’t wait to get it into the hands of some of our younger readers who need something interesting to read!
Was this review helpful?
I loved the Disney Villains meets Gotham vibes of this story, it's perfect for anyone who enjoyed books like Kingdom Keepers growing up. I enjoyed all the references to different characters, and think the concept of the villains as teens (before they become villains) was super interesting to explore. I found myself struggling to get interested at first, there was a lot of world-building that felt a lot like info dumps, but once the mystery is established, the pace picks up in a major way.  I think it's important to note going in that this book is definitely more for the young end of the young adult spectrum, bordering on middle grade, and I think if you are prepared for that type of story going in, you will enjoy this book. I also don't know if the published version of this book will include a map, but I think it would be incredibly useful, just so readers can more easily orient themselves in the world.

Okay so now spoiler-talk, because there's actually a lot I ended up wanting to unpack.

This is your last warning if you don't want spoilers, my friends, click away now!

Okay so obviously we know that Ursula is, well, Ursula, James is Hook, and Mally Saint is Maleficent. These were all pretty established early on, and as a result acted as a perfect distraction as to who exactly Mary Elizabeth is (or maybe I'm totally thick-headed and did not put it together until the first time Mary went through the mirror), and that is the Queen of Hearts. She's killer at croquet pinball, and with all the references to her mother with the bright red hair, wearing the dress with hearts on it the day she died, it's the only person she could possibly be. Which, as a result, makes me super intrigued for Mary's story going forward. Will she take the turn towards evil, will she go a little mad, or will she be a good, old-fashioned anti-hero? 

I'm also very interested to see what nefarious dealings the Chief is up to. I almost wish there was a bit more of a focus on The Mad Hatter mystery, or that it tied into the main plot a little bit more, for a couple reasons. First, it's super dark and twisted, and as a result very compelling to my Criminal Minds-loving self, but secondly, it ties in with the Gotham vibes super well. As soon as the story was established, I thought to myself "oh this is awesome, this is straight out of a comic, something The Joker or The Riddler would do." But then the case more or less faded into the background as Bella and Mary Elizabeth went along with their own case. I don't know, I just wish it all tied together a little more. I also wish we saw just a little bit more interactions between Lucas and the main characters, then the twist of his family being behind the testing would be a little bit bigger, a little more shocking. 

Overall, I think this was a fun book, and the solid opener for what could be a very intriguing series.
Was this review helpful?
This Gotham like setting is genius. All the Disney Villains are there- Maleficent, Ursula, Captain Hook, and other infamous Disney Villains. Another solid start to another series that I must own. 
Let me tempt you with some facts:
Magic is gone. Our MC, Mary Elizabeth, is a Legacy and lives in Scar. The Legacies are divided up into groups:
Legacies have families descended from Magic.
Narrows have no magic and are trying to take over Scar? That part confused me a bit.
This story is labeled YA, but I would hand it over to MG readers with no problem. I think you have to be a Disney fan to really love it, but I also think it stands on its own for non-disney folk as well.
My big complaint is that it isn't long enough- there is a lot of info to absorb as the reader gets to know this new world and how it all works.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and Disney publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for this review.  What an exciting new take on the Disney characters we know and love and the villains we love to hate.  With the addition of all new characters this really feels like a fresh take and "a whole new world." * See what I did there ;) * There are so may character introduced in this book, Belle, Flora, Fauna, Merrywether, Ursula, Gaston, and The Mad Hatter.  There's mystery and secrets and betrayal and magic.  I'm always nervous to read anything about re-telling of villain stories but this did not disappoint.  This book just blew my made.  It puts a whole new meaning to villains aren't born....they're made.  A solid four out of five for this read and I'll be impatiently waiting for book 2.
Was this review helpful?
This is marketed as a YA book and as someone who loves YA and loves Disney, I was incredibly excited about it. However, in getting into reading it, it reads like Middle Grade, which would be fine, except it incorporates YA themes to try and "age them up". It honestly feels like someone watched CW teenagers and based them off that. A lot of the teenage interactions felt very forced and very fake.

The author also took a lot of inspiration from the world around us, with one of the rich, bad students even saying that a person planned to "make Monarch great again" after they just talked about the rioting that occurred because of the Legacy people trying to find rights. As an avid supporter of Black Lives Matter, this didn't really sit right with me, it felt way too close to home and way too soon, whether it was intended or not. 

Also, the formatting did not work on hardly any device except the NetGalley app on an iPad, making it almost impossible to read otherwise.
Was this review helpful?
This book has a very interesting premise and since it's been awhile since I've consumed any Disney content I was eager to read. 

While I got Gotham vibes in the very beginning I was unsure throughout exactly what this book was trying to be. It's much darker than traditional Disney fare since it features our teen villains in the making cursing, referencing sex, hanging at bars, etc. Plus someone is murdering people and sending their body parts to the station. At the same time this story takes place in the US in the modern day world because it references pop culture like Love Island and different states and countries.

Mary Elizabeth Hart works as an intern at the local police station as a way to cope with the murder of her family and eventually make a difference. You already have to suspend belief that the police department would use un unpaid and untrained intern to help solve a missing person's case regardless of her knowing and being the same age as the missing person. She doesn't display any particular abilities that even make this worth the risk. She displayed pretty typical teen behavior especially when it came to her relationship with her boyfriend James.

At times it felt like it was trying to be an edgier version of Descendants. And speaking of Descendants it did the same thing that made me mad about D3 where it used these Disney characters as a stand in for minorities. Disney did it in that movie by trying to make the villains similar to immigrants even though it was a shoddy at best comparison. And this book does it by being clearly inspired by the real life struggles of Black people in the US. And seeing that this book takes place in the US it was even more jarring. The Legacies live in the worst part of town, are treated horribly by the rich non magic descendants called the Narrows, and have to fight gentrification. When Legacy kids start disappearing the police don't care enough to properly search for them.

The book did get more interesting towards the end when it finally felt like the story had moved along. This book definitely suffered from the problem some YA series have where book 1 has the sole purpose of setting up the series for future books instead of being able to stand on it's own.

This might be more interesting as a graphic novel.

I received this arc from Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely loved this book kept me distracted during lockdown.  Needed an escape and this definitely provided it. Plus Disney villains
Was this review helpful?
Disney villains are, without a doubt, some of the coolest parts about Disney stories. It’s interesting to think about if they had won, been able to corrupt the heroes, or something other than their predetermined outcome. But sometimes that doesn’t work, and the reimaginings or spins come across as cheap and boring, and “City of Villains” by Estelle Laure unfortunately falls in the latter. 

The story revolves around Mary Elizabeth Hart, a high school senior who interns at the police department and is given the case of a missing girl. From there, one case becomes multiple cases and she learns that everything she thought she knew might not be true. In addition, there is political and social turmoil between the wealthy elite and the rundown part of the city called the Scar which used to be the center of magic. 

The premise of this book sounds extremely exciting, even being described as Disney meets Gotham, and the description matches that perfectly. It’s a shame that this book simply doesn’t deliver and makes for a boring experience. 

Mary Elizabeth, the book’s main character, is not a very likeable character from the start, complaining that she can’t get a break through and is always with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend and her are very tight for understandable reasons, but less than 10 chapters in they have a conversation about marriage and each other that just seems very odd for 17 year olds. 

What really flops about this book though is their use of the Disney villains. At the beginning they are mentioned, and obvious names like Ursula and Scar get tossed around but it doesn’t go deep enough to explain their importance in the world. It’s all very depressing and leans too much on the “Gotham” aspect of this story to keep me entertained. It comes off as boring and too much world building for such a short book. 

I wish this book had more to talk about but I was just sad it didn’t sound as cool as described. I highly recommend the Twisted Tales if you want to read about the Disney Villains and their stories/how they can change because they are what I hoped this would be more along the lines of. And if the premise sounds cool, Gotham and the entire story of Batman exists. Disney has a lot of amazing books in their collection but this is just not one of them. 

My final rating: ⅖ stars
Was this review helpful?
2.5 stars
While I love Disney’s heroes, the villains also hold a special place in my heart. In City of Villains, Estelle Laure reimagines how Maleficent, Ursula and Captain Hook all came into power and became evil. The story follows Mary Elizabeth Heart, an intern at a police department, who is trying to find her missing best friend, Ursula, and another missing classmate, Mally. Her boyfriend, James, is also keeping secrets from her as he runs his gang (including Smee) in the Scar.

This book has everything I generally look for in an easy read, including familiar characters and a world of magic (hence why I turn to Disney YA books as a palate cleanser between heavier books). However, while this book is billed as young adult, it definitely reads more like a middle-grade book. So much of the dialogue was juvenile and the characters didn’t have too much depth to them. I say that with the one exception being the main character – Mary Elizabeth. This book felt more like a coming-of-age story for her as she works out how to prioritize what she wants in life.

With that being said, I’ve already marked books two and three on my TBR list in Goodreads due to the potential. While this book had quite a bit of background and investigating, the cliffhanger at the end of the book makes me hopeful that the second book will be action-packed.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this book for readers who are in middle school or early high school. If you’re a fan of Disney’s Descendants, the Kingdom Keepers series, or the Twisted Tales series, you’d also likely enjoy this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me an eARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Mary Heart is an intern at the local police department and when a few of her friends go missing, she's put on the case to help figure out what has happened.  But will she figure it out before she becomes the next victim?

This was such a fun and creative reimagining of how some of the baddest of Disney's villains got their start!  It is a great mystery with a lot of bread crumbs that you have to follow and pieces that have to be put together.  Mary, herself, goes through a lot as she tries to find her friends and ends up making a great new one along the way.  It's a novel about change, embracing your destiny and letting go.  

I will admit this is not at all what I expected but ultimately, I embraced that and ran with it and truly enjoyed this novel.  I feel that this is the perfect book for those looking for a Gothem type mystery with some X-Men type moments.  That is what it reminded me of.  It had action, magic and amazing Disney villains!  Sometimes different is cool and in this case, it worked!

Thank you Netgalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide (Disney-Hyperion) for the Advanced Reader's Copy!
Was this review helpful?
What a letdown. This book started at 3 stars, progressed quickly to 2 stars, even moved down to 1 star at one point because I was angry that it overpromised and underdelivered, but eventually settled at 2 stars.

I was expecting some fascinating Joker-like origin stories for some of the meanest Disney villains and all I got was a sloppy story that didn't make much sense. In this world, Mary Elizabeth Heart (nod to the Queen of the Hearts) is a teenage intern at a detective agency that starts sleuthing for answers when her friends, Ursula (yes, that one) and Mally (eventually Maleficent), go missing. Mary's boyfriend, James (Captain Hook), who is madly in love with her is also acting suspicious. I don't know why he's madly in love with her. We're just told that he is. 

This world apparently once had magic and now it doesn't. Why? I don't know. But families that once had magic are called "legacies" and are hoping for magic to return. I don't even know what kind of magic this world had, how only certain families had it, and why it would be good or bad for it to return. I have no clue. 

The only character you really get to know in the story is Mary and she's honestly kind of bland. You never get to know Ursula or Mally so it's hard to care when they go missing and even harder to care when they return. And James. We are told over and over again that James is the person Mary trusts most in the world, but he's barely in the story. Except for a ridiculous tattoo reveal that appears to come out of nowhere. 

Why 2 stars instead of 1 star? I actually liked the idea of what was happening to these Disney villains as they were missing. I thought it was a creative way to explain their features and provided an explanation for why they're so mistrusting and against the regular civilians. This idea on its own had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make up for the rest of story.
Was this review helpful?
*Disclaimer, I revised a free copy of this book from the publisher for a honest review, this will not affect my thoughts or feelings to the book*

Boy oh boy did I LOVE this book. From the amazing mystery and beautifully placed clues it was such a fun one to try to solve. Mary’s character was so fun to read and very lovable. I thought all of out supporting characters were also very nicely written. I thought the pacing was very well done for this book, it never felt way to slow or way to fast for me. The cliffhanger hanger we were left on has me dieing for when the next book comes out it was that good. Overall this book was just a very enjoyable read for me, also as a Disney fan I felt very pleased on how the Disney characters were involved. This book is a must read for any Disney fan or whoever wants a good mystery to solve. Definitely going to be one of my top books of 2021. 

I will be posting this review on Goodreads January 15th then Amazon and Barnes & Noble on release date
Was this review helpful?
Very excited to receive this ARC!!! I am a big Disney lover and needless to say I am obsessed with this book! I love the re-imagination of the villains! It’s just *chef’s kissing *  I cannot wait to share this book with my friends and family! Very well written!! I cannot wait for book 2 :)
Was this review helpful?
As a millennial, who grew up with the Disney films, this was a hard book for me to fathom since it tears apart all foundational stories and mashes them up into a new one. ....I couldn't get past Captain Hook driving a car....
Was this review helpful?
City of Villains wanted to be something so much more than it was. It tried to fit into too many various genres and convince the reader of different themes that just simply weren't there. While the description of the book drew me in, the book itself did not execute the promises that the summary gave and left much wanting. As other reviewers before me said, this book may have worked better as a graphic novel rather than an actual full-length novel.
Was this review helpful?
2.5 stars 

This was just not for me, which was sad because the description had me very intrigued and I wish it had been more.  Hard to explain but seemed like it was trying to hard but also not trying enough to be placed in at least young adult, may have worked better as a graphic novel?  

Still entertaining at times!  Thank you for supplying me with a review copy.
Was this review helpful?
This book is very good for MG readers and fans of Disney's The Descendants. I found this retelling to a totally original story incorporating characters we all love. It was intriguing and paced well, after a bit of a slow start, but I got a little bored because there was no guessing on my end which character was supposed to be which villain. It was all very obvious from their names and so the rest of the plot played out mostly how I expected it to. I think I would've been more interested and invested if I didn't know who everyone was, but overall it was a fun adventure!
Was this review helpful?
By day Mary Elizabeth is a high school student and friend, but other than that Mary Elizabeth works as a intern for the Monarch City police department.  But when her friends start disappearing the chief lets her partner up and work on the case.  But who knows what they may find.
 This book is full of excitement with a massive serving of suspense thrown in for good reading.  As you are reading keep in mind there is always more than it seems in this book and I think that is what I liked so much about this book.  I really hope there are more books to this so I can find out what happens next.  

This will appear on my blog on 1-26-2021
Was this review helpful?