Blog Tour: Review of Cold-Hearted by Serena Valentino! // disney just got darker

Hi friends! I’m super excited to be here for my stop on the blog tour for Cold-Hearted by Serena Valentino hosted by Rockstar Books Tours. I just want to add that I’m sorry I haven’t be active, I was gone for a week but I’m back now! So let’s dive right in!

TW: abuse

About the Book

Title: COLD HEARTED (Villains #8)

Author: Serena Valentino

Pub. Date: July 6, 2021

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 304

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

This was supposed to be her happily ever after…

It’s a familiar tale: A kind and beautiful young girl, reeling from loss. A doting father, frantic to bring a mother’s love back into his daughter’s life. And the selfish, cruel woman who insinuates herself into that family―a woman so unfeeling, so cold hearted, that when her new husband dies, she makes the girl a servant in her own home.

But who is that evil stepmother, that icy lady of the house? How did she become so closed off that, in the face of a child’s grief, she thought only to seek wealth and power for herself and her abhorrent daughters? Before that fateful ball, before the glass slipper and the prince, there was another story―a story of love and grief, of hope and of dreams dashed. It is the story of Lady Tremaine.

Even the coldest of villains are sometimes wives and mothers, women who loved and lost and hoped for something grander for their lives . . . once upon a dream.

The latest novel in Serena Valentino’s deliciously devious Villains series introduces the most famed and hated wicked stepmother of them all―but turns everything you know about her on its head.

You can grab all the Villains books here!

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this. I’m a huge fan of Disney, and yet I still hadn’t picked up a single one of the books in the Villains series. But when I saw that the eighth book was coming out and focused on Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, I couldn’t help but be excited for it!

and wow.

First of all, I wasn’t incredibly confused although this is the eight book in the Villains series. However, there are mentions of other kingdoms, villains, and past events that don’t necessarily have much bearing on the present story but are still important. That’s what I loved: Lady Tremaine lives in real-life London, until being swept off to the Many Kingdoms (AKA fairy-tale land) by Cinderella’s father, Sir Richard. The sheer amount of creativity contained in this small little book? Astonishing. Like, there’s these fairy-tale lands with Snow White and Rapunzel right there in the Many Kingdoms, but also real-life London where there’s no belief in fairy-tales. It feels a little like Narnia in a surprising way.

Lady Tremaine is known as a villain, right? I never thought that there could ever be so much depth to her character. She’s not a bad person at the start of this story, and her love for her daughters is so very clear. Anastasia and Drizella aren’t evil, in fact, they’re barely ever cruel. It was so fascinating seeing all the events from Lady Tremaine’s point of view, especially the character of Cinderella herself. Cinderella actually annoyed the heck out of me, even though I know she’s technically pure and sweet*. The idea that the Many Kingdoms often ruins good and kind women by changing them into cruel villains is spine-chilling. It almost gives the region a sort of foreboding, sentient feeling, especially when compared to London.

*yes, i did just call THE cinderella annoying. like, what a well-written character wth

While I felt that that the writing was too stilted and simplistic for my tastes, the creativity really did take my breath away. I cannot emphasize enough how well this story is crafted after the initial 100 pages or so. I felt helpless witnessing abuse of the body, mind, and spirit by so many people in this book. By the end, I’d overcome most of my negative feelings towards the writing considering the direction the plot was taking. I haven’t seen the original Cinderella in years. And yet, towards the end of the book, a few key events and phrases from the movie played out perfectly in my head as I read them, only with a new perspective in mind.

And that’s really the gist of this story without saying too much: this isn’t a happy story. On the contrary, it’s heartbreaking. Cold-Hearted is not only a villain origin story that not only makes sense, but garners sympathy and understanding for the villain in question. The story of the Tremaines is horrifying, but it also strangely enough reflects much of what happens in real life. Overall, I’d give this a 4/5 stars for being a really fantastic, if dark, take on a hard villain origin story! Tell me: what are your thoughts on Lady Tremaine? Have you read any of these books?

About Serena:

Serena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade.

She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling Villains series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of All, The Beast Within, Poor Unfortunate Soul, Mistress of All Evil, Mother Knows Best, Odd Sisters, Evil Thing, and Cold Hearted.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of COLD HEARTED, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

7/1/2021YABooksCentralExcerpt
7/2/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
7/3/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview

Week Two:

7/4/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
7/5/2021She Just Loves BooksReview
7/6/2021@curlygrannylovestoreadReview
7/7/2021History from a Woman’s PerspectiveReview
7/8/2021@autumn.bookedReview
7/9/2021@kristens.reading.nookReview
7/10/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview

Week Three:

7/11/2021The Reading WordsmithReview
7/12/2021Lilly’s Book WorldReview
7/13/2021BRITTREADSALATTEBOOKSReview
7/14/2021Phannie the ginger bookwormReview
7/15/2021@pagesofyellowReview
7/16/2021Satisfaction for Insatiable ReadersReview
7/17/2021Don’t Judge, ReadReview

Week Four:

7/18/2021@under_the_aurora.borealisReview
7/19/2021A Fictional BookwormReview
7/20/2021@minnesota_mailerReview
7/21/2021Books Are Magic TooReview
7/22/2021@lostinbookverseReview
7/23/2021hauntedbybooksReview
7/24/2021The Momma SpotReview

Week Five:

7/25/2021Books and Zebras @jypsylynnReview
7/26/2021Bookish RantingsReview
7/27/2021Book-KeepingReview
7/28/2021PopthebutterflyReview
7/29/2021MomfluensterReview
7/30/2021@fictitious.foxReview
7/31/2021two points of interestReview

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7 thoughts on “Blog Tour: Review of Cold-Hearted by Serena Valentino! // disney just got darker

      1. I have read all 8 books in the series, in order; grabbed book 1 out of a neighborhood Lil Library box and couldn’t put it down then determined to read all in series.

        I found this one the most disappointing, if not the most heart breaking out of the series. Where’s the compassion and forgiveness for Lady Tremaine?

        Liked by 1 person

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