Oct 2, 2019

Review--Mother Knows Best by Serena Valentino

The tale of the legendary golden flower is widely known. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the flower is coveted by an old witch to keep herself young and beautiful. And always the flower is used to save a dying queen, who then gives birth to a princess with magical hair. Not willing to lose the flower, the old witch steals the princess and locks her away in a high tower, raising her as her own. But the princess always finds out who she truly is and manages to defeat the old witch.

And yet this is only half the story. So what of the old witch, Mother Gothel? Where does she come from? And how does she come across the magical golden flower? Here is one account that recounts a version of the story that has remained untold for centuries . . . until now. It is a tale of mothers and daughters, of youth and dark magic. It is a tale of the old witch.

Serena Valentino’s Mother Knows Best is the tale of Mother Gothel and what was going on with her before she became Rapunzel’s kidnapper/mother. It’s a decidedly darker tale than the ones we’ve previously read in the Villains series, at least I thought so. It seemed Gothel was always on the path towards darkness.

We start the story with Gothel’s childhood, which made it a little difficult to place where this fell in the odd sister timeline, it seemed to be before most of the events of the series to date, but we eventually get back to the current time. Like many a villain, Gothel didn’t have an easy childhood. She and her sisters lived with their mother, the queen in the dead woods. This is basically where the nearby village took their dead after a person passed. The dead belonged to the queen and she planned on passing her legacy to her daughters one day when she was ready to die.

Gothel was the youngest out of her sisters who were triplets, but not identical. It was that fact that made their mother not love them as much. Gothel was always trying to read and study up on magic in hopes of pleasing her mother, while her sisters dreamed of leaving the dead woods and seeing more of the world.

Then one day, Gothel’s mother, Manea, showed her why the woods are so special and what was basically the source of her power, it was the rapunzel flowers that grew in her observatory. When you sang the magic song, the flowers could heal anything, including age. When Manea threatens to kill Gothel’s sisters, Gothel reacts in a finishing way and basically leaves her and her sisters on her own.

The story was decidedly more focused on Gothel and her sisters, we watched Gothel slowly descend into darkness and of course the odd sisters make their appearance in the guise of help. It’s really not until the last quarter of the book or so that we enter what would be the movie, Tangled.

Tangled is definitely one of my favorite Disney movies and I rather liked reading this interpretation of Gothel’s character. It did make things interesting and Serena definitely knows her Disney movies, for she always touches on those right little moments that came from the movie and kind of made you wonder…what was the villain thinking in THAT moment. Well, Serena answers that question for us. Not only does Serena know how to expand on these little moments, but she’s on point with her dialogue when it comes to reliving those movie moments. I was also quite pleased that my favorite animal friend, Maximus makes an appearance too! Though, I thought it would be funny if the odd sisters, who watched these events unfold would’ve commented on his prowess of moving aside the ruffians that Snuggly Duckling, but I guess you can’t win them all!

This story was very much a Mother Gothel story. It’s really not until the very last page or two that we see something that might help steer the story into the next book’s direction which of course is titled, The Odd Sisters. We’ll finally get to learn more about the witches who have been causing a bit of havoc in Disney Fairytale Land! It’s definitely going to be a more interesting story since—as far as I know—there’s no key Disney movie directing it.

Alas, that tale is not here (in my reading queue) yet. Soon though! Mother Knows Best was an interesting tale on its own. I just wish that there would’ve maybe been a bit more at the end that directs what will happen next in regards to the odd sisters. I’ve heard that next year’s book will be about Cruella, so that ought to be interesting. I’m rather curious if Hades will ever get a book since his name gets thrown out a lot when characters are cursing. Makes you wonder…

As I was saying, Mother Knows Best was yet another enchanting installment in the Disney Villains series. While I feel like it didn’t do much to add to the greater story arc at large, it’s still probably one of my favorites out of the series to date as it just had such a detailed history of who Gothel was before she became Mother Gothel. Which is likely the point behind these villain stories! Definitely a worthy read!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars


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