Goodreads Summary: Leave it to the heros to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.
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!
“We love to hate them and they hate to be loved.”
13 Tales of Villainy from my favorite authors with notes from my favorite booktubers: sounds great! Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Some stories I really liked, but most were just…meh. And the essays/commentary from booktubers was actually kind of annoying, to the point where I was just skimming them. I feel like some of the funnier ones took me out of the darker mood created by the villain stories, and the more serious ones could get boring. Still, I greatly enjoyed some of the stories so here’s my rundown!
The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh: 2.5/5 stars
This was an interesting premise! However, I felt like it was really dense, and there was too much world building to really do it justice in such a short story. And I was kind of confused by the ending, and well, actually, I was confused by a lot of it. And I hate to say it but I just wasn’t that interested in reading it a second time to decipher what exactly was happening.
Jack by Ameriie: 3/5 stars
I enjoyed the beginning of this story a lot! It was a fun and interesting twist on Jack and the Beanstalk, and I enjoyed the narrator’s voice. However, I didn’t really like the twist at the ending. The good: it was a good twist in that I didn’t see it coming. However, I feel like it was completely unexpected and didn’t fit with any of the events before it; there was no foreshadowing, and basically the narrator went against everything she had been saying. I guess this is a villain book, but it felt like it was just dropped there randomly.
Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani: 2.5/5 stars
This story was innovative and different in that it was told completely in texts. It was fun to read, but, ultimately, I feel like it really didn’t help the story because I didn’t really connect with them. I had to guess at a lot of what was happening, and didn’t know anyone’s feelings. And while this was fun on its own as a light, high school fiction, I felt like it really didn’t fit in a villain anthology. Since when has Persephone been a villain?
Shirley and Jim by Susan Dennard: 3.5/5 stars
Disclaimer: I am not familiar with the story of Sherlock Holmes, except for that he’s a detective. So I can’t really judge this as a Sherlock Holmes retelling/backstory. I enjoyed the conversations between Shirley and Jim, and sympathized with Jim a lot. To me, he didn’t feel like a villain. And I like how Shirley changed, and the ending of the story.
The Blessings of Little Wants by Sarah Enni: 2/5 stars
I’m sorry but I just couldn’t get into this one. I feel like there was too much it was trying to do in too short of a story; the premise was intriguing but it would have worked better as an actual novel. I think the ending was supposed to be sort of heartbreaking, but I just couldn’t sympathize/relate since I hadn’t really gotten to know the characters in so short a time. And I’m not entirely sure what was happening the entire time because I got bored and wasn’t fully invested in the story.
The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer: 4.5/5 stars
I love Marissa Meyer. This story was the first really good one, and I really got into it! I loved the premise, and I really enjoyed how she employed parts of the original, darker Little Mermaid story. I could really feel the main character’s pain, and got really invested in her story. Like a couple others, I think this would have been better as a full length novel, but that’s not because it was bad being so short, but more because it was such a cool idea and I would love to see it expanded!
Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon: 5/5 stars
This was my favorite story in the anthology. It really made me think about Medusa–was she really a villain, or was she a victim? The story was heartbreaking on so many levels, and I got really emotionally invested in the main character. It carried a strong message about rape and how girls/women are treated by society, the double standard. This was one of the few where I really enjoyed the booktuber’s commentary. And as an added bonus I loved the Asian setting!
Death Knell by Victoria Schwab: 4/5 stars
I really liked this personification of Death. He didn’t really appear to be a villain here, just someone doing what he had to. Grace was also a relatable character; not everything she did may have been right, and she suffered for that. But she was suffering a lot more, and at the end of the day, she just wanted to live. This was another story where I enjoyed the booktuber comments.
Marigold by Samantha Shannon: 4.5/5 stars
Okay, I did not see that twist coming at the end! But I loved it. I have a soft spot for faery lore, and that’s probably part of why I really enjoyed this story. Like Cindy Pon’s story, Shannon addressed some of the issues that women have to deal with and their treatment by men, a message that I resonated strongly with.
You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera: 3/5 stars
This is probably the only thing I’ve ever read besides Choose Your Own Adventure that was written in second person, and I can’t say I really liked it. Maybe it was to make the reader feel really invested in the story, but I actually felt less invested in it, just a bit confused. I think this premise could have been expanded on as well, and I was confused by the different types of drugs. I did love “You” though; she was definitely someone I love to hate!
Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith: 2.5/5 stars
Okay, so this one was supposed to be about a psychopath. But tbh, he didn’t really feel like a psychopath to me, at least not until the last page, which surprised me. For the most part, it felt like just another high school story, which was entertaining, but not what I expected in a villain anthology. I didn’t really like the casual voice of the writing style either: the breaking of the third wall.
Indigo and Shade: by April Genevieve Tucholke: 3/5 stars
This one was supposed to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling, sort of about Gaston, but I just didn’t get it. I was confused by how it was supposed to fit the prompt. Aside from that, I enjoyed the story, especially the character of Indigo. The ending was unexpected as well, which I enjoyed.
Sera by Nicola Yoon: 4/5 stars
Ooh, Sera was another one of the characters I loved to hate. I really like the prompt for this one, and how it was interpreted. The one thing I didn’t really like was how the story was written, in short little chunks with different headers, and then randomly changing POV.
Overall, this was nothing spectacular, but enjoyable, with a few amazing stories that jumped out and grabbed my attention lost in a sea of “meh.” I would still recommend this anthology, if just for those few 🙂
3.5 out of 5 bloody red stars
You can also read my review on Goodreads here.