I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
City of Villains is the first in a series of Young Adults books that will provide new takes on the origins of Disney characters. It is described as ‘Disney’s Villains meets Gotham.’
There were two things that were in the back of my mind the entire time that I read this. The first thing was that the way Disney seems to be reimagining their classic characters (in books like this one, and in TV movies like The Descendants) in ways that are similar to how Marvel gives it’s readers new versions of their comic characters. As a fan of Once Upon A Time, that TV series was also on mind throughout the book.
I think the Gotham comparison is a good one, as the book deals with some pretty gritty topics. One of the major criticisms I’ve seen of this book is that it is more Middle Grade than YA. I don’t agree with this in terms of premise and overall subject matter, but one area where I think it does apply is in the naming of characters. We have Bella, Della, and Stella, as well as Mally and Dally – the names were too similar. Another character name that annoyed me was the teacher, Mr. Iago – I fully expected there would be a Principal Jafar, or at least some form of Jafar.
City of Villains is an enjoyable read, and part of the fun is trying to figure out which book characters represent which Disney characters. In some cases, the names leave no doubt, and in others I still haven’t been able to figure out the Disney identity. I gave City of Villains four stars on Goodreads. I liked the book, but in my opinion it came up short of the fifth star.