REVIEW: ‘Maleficent’ Novelizations by Elizabeth Rudnick

'The Curse of Maleficent' by Elizabeth Rudnick I have long been a fan of the (junior) novelizations of the Disney family of films, so when I was offered the opportunity to read the novelization of Maleficent by Disney Publishing Worldwide, I jumped at the opportunity. What I expected was a novelization based on the film; what I did not expect were two novelizations: Maleficent and The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty, both available April 29, 2014.

Both adaptations are attributed to author Elizabeth Rudnick and both are in fact adaptations of the upcoming film, but why two different titles? And why the opportunity to read both versions? While there is in fact some strong overlap in both titles — particularly at the beginning as well as the ending — the two offer very different perspectives on the same events, and the clue is in the titles.

In short, Maleficent is the film as told from the perspective of the titular character, while The Curse of Maleficent is told from the perspective of Aurora. As a crude example, if Maleficent were to sneak up on Aurora from behind and tap her on the left shoulder while standing to Aurora’s right, Maleficent would detail Maleficent’s thought process and actions and ultimately Aurora falling for the trick and looking behind to her left. Meanwhile, The Curse of Maleficent would simply note from Aurora’s perspective that she was tapped on the shoulder and turned to not see anyone there. And, of course, it works both ways. One major difference between the two books, however, is that The Curse of Maleficent includes illustrations by Nicholas Kole which often feature Maleficent and supplement the text by providing hints as to what is really occurring in the scene from a more objective point of view.

To that end, because Aurora is significantly younger than Maleficent and also spends a good portion of the time as an infant/child, Aurora’s thoughts can’t always be expressed, especially since the books begin prior to her birth (in fact, the books detail events that take place when Maleficent herself is a baby). In these events, Knotgrass — one of the three fairies who are charged with raising and protecting Aurora until the day after her sixteenth birthday — acts as surrogate, offering up her thoughts and advice when Aurora’s is not available.

It’s quite a mindtrip reading both titles back to back, and I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend anyone do so, but there is a significant amount of difference in insight that makes it not not worthwhile. If choosing to read both, however, I would highly recommend reading Maleficent first as it provides what seems like the heart of the film goes into great detail with the films’ start and ends while The Curse provides more of a recap version of several events. If reading just The Curse is on your list, I would recommend waiting until at least seeing the film first, as it will make more sense when filling in the gaps. In either case, both titles are well written and are quick and easy reads for young adults (and up).

Both titles will be available for the Kindle, but Maleficent is definitely one book you’ll want to collect as a hardcover given its movie poster cover and the pages being trimmed in black, giving it a unique, ominous look.


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