The Wicked Ones starts with a powerful prologue that sets the mood for the rest of the book. A financially and spiritually broken man carefully loads everything of value in his home onto his person. He peeks in on his wife and despite a small twinge of regret, he sneaks out into the night leaving his two small daughters, Drizella and Anastasia to deal with the fallout of their mother’s wrath.
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And so in The Wicked Ones readers are introduced to the infamous wicked stepsisters who are much more layered than shown in previous iterations. Stuck in a dreary chateau, Anastasia and Drizella do the bare minimum to avoid the anger of their mother Lady Tremaine. Most of the household chores fall on their sister Ella, and despite them not particularly liking her- they don’t outright dislike her either. You see, in order to not bear the brunt of their mother’s vicious temper, they take their music lessons and know that their lot in life is to marry for money and not for love.
Despite knowing this, Drizella meets a female scientist on her way to her vocal lessons and in turn falls in love with reading and science. Anastasia, on the other hand, meets and falls in love with a palace horse trainer, and yes he knows Prince Charming who seems a bit boring. The two sisters live out these secret lives pretending to get ready for their debut at the palace ball but also plot to run away from the anger of their mother the cruel Lady Tremaine.
The Wicked Ones is so enjoyable despite its melancholy story. This is a realistic portrayal of the emotional abuse that Lady Tramaine rains down on the girls with Ella getting most of the physical abuse. Within each page, I felt more and more empathy towards the girls and wondered if they ever break free from their prison of duty and abuse.
While the book differs from the animated film a bit, it still has the same undertones of following your heart and passions despite it NOT being Ella’s story. This book is well written and layered, there’s pain, anger, and frustration with a few spots of joy for the sisters. The Wicked Ones is a fairly fast read and despite not knowing if this book will get a sequel, I felt like the sister’s story was wrapped up well.
Rating: 4/5 stars
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