Review – Poor Unfortunate Soul

A Tale of the Sea Witch

“Hate. Her magic was infused with it. And in that hate was a deep, penetrating sorrow.”

– Serena Valentino

I received a copy of Poor Unfortunate Soul from @scholastic_au for review.

Ursula has always been my favourite Disney villain, I felt like she was misunderstood, and a deeper dive into her character is something I’ve always dreamt of but never thought that I’d get. As usual, I absolutely loved how the author intertwines mythology throughout her work.

I do think that even though these books stand up on their own, they really do benefit from being read as a series. Poor Unfortunate Soul does also follow characters from the books that came before this one. I had already read The Beast Within before this one, and it followed on from the events that took place in that book (I hadn’t read the first book in the series by this stage, but I did go back and read it afterwards so that I wasn’t missing any links).

The Disney Villain books are so appealing to me because they give the villains a voice that they wouldn’t have normally had in the original films. Poor Unfortunate Soul was interesting because it did this, but also wasn’t solely focused on Ursula.

“This is how I choose to look, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.”

– Serena Valentino (Ursula)

There are some great themes in this book, that I think would be great to explore with young readers in your life. Ursula for one is incredibly empowered and finds herself most comfortable in her natural state, despite what others may think.

“She liked her life exactly as it was”.

– Serena Valentino (Princess Tulip)

In The Beast Within there is mention of Princess Tulip throwing herself off a cliff into the sea and it is later discovered that Ursula struck a deal with her to get her home safely in exchange for her beauty and voice. In this book we re-visit Princess Tulip and watch as she deals with the repercussions of that deal. We get to see her stripping back the beauty standards and expectations put on women to be the perfect bride. I. LOVED. IT.

Ursula is the sassy queen that I’ve always loved and Valentino brought my favourite Little Mermaid scene (you know the one, the book’s namesake) to the table and spun it into this incredible drama-filled scene with all of the flair you’d expect from Ursula.

For me personally, getting to read another side to Ursula, an alternative backstory, was EXACTLY what I was hoping for. Yes, the book felt a little stuck in the mud with its plot and we did spend a lot of time following other characters as well. But that didn’t make it a bad book, just a bit slower than I would have liked.

My ONLY gripe was that the narrator at one point says “she hated performing and the way it made her feel.” (referring to the drama queen of Disney herself, Ursula). Which felt like a personal attack :’) and really threw me off. But we wont talk about that anymore.

If you are a Disney fan, and you love Ursula as much as I do, I highly recommend picking this up. It was so much fun to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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