September 17, 2021

ARC REVIEW: City of Villains (City of Villains #1) by Estelle Laure

City of Villains (City of Villains #1) by Estelle Laure
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Format: eARC
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

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What a great book. 

City of Villains gives us the backstory or origin tale on many of the villains and characters we love from other Disney tales. Similar to the movie Maleficent, it gives an alternate perspective and explains why and how they became the villains we know today. Some of the references were obvious, others became clear the farther one got into the story. The story follows Mary Elizabeth Heart, a teenager in Monarch City working as an intern in the police department. Students begin to go missing, and she is assigned to investigate along with a young officer named Bella. The case initially seems straightforward, but it goes much deeper than expected as they work to discover what is truly happening to the missing students.  

Magic (and its disappearance) is a driving force of many of the events in the book, and a large source of conflict between different groups in the novel (i.e. Magicalists vs. Naturalists). I really like how this book ended, the line “Magic is back” is a powerful closer. I feel like the author Estelle Laure ended it at such a point that it creates a really good opening for the next installment. I look forward to seeing what will happen and what other characters will be introduced in the next book. 

I would recommend this to young adult audiences and above, it’s not really suited towards middle-grade readers. Fans of Descendants or Zootopia will enjoy this book. It mentions Gotham in the description, but it doesn’t really have the same mood. Any diehard Disney fan will love all the nods in the book. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Publishing for my free e-ARC of this book. This in no way affected my review, and everything written reflects my honest, unbiased opinion.

About the Author

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

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