From New York Times bestselling author Holly Black comes a captivating original novel set between Disney’s Maleficent and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in which newly-queened Aurora struggles to be the best leader to both the humans and Fair Folk under her reign; her beau, Prince Phillip, longs to get to know Aurora and her kingdom better; and Maleficent has trouble letting go of the past.
Heart of the Moors is a new and fresh take on the original Disney love story. It’s full of romance and deception all crafted with Holly Black’s usual fae flair. Black knows her fae folklore and it was interesting seeing that focus on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale.
The book felt like the second book in a series versus a standalone. While it wasn’t getting in the way of my enjoyment of the book, it was a tad confusing at first. Heart of the Moors is actually meant to be a bridge between the 2004 Maleficent movie and the new 2019 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil movie. So all this information I was missing I found by rewatching the first movie. Not a big deal, but I do wish that had been stated somewhere in the book.
In the original Sleeping Beauty we never really get to know Aurora on a personal level. I also never really considered what happened after she woke up. Aurora was a kind person with a big heart, but she was also strong and smart. Being Queen of two kingdoms where the people of each fear or even hate each other is no simple task. She’s also struggling with what she went through and is terrified of sleeping and not being able to wake up. To top it all off her love life is a mess. She might kind of like/love the hot prince but he didn’t break the curse with true love’s kiss. Aurora never falters in her duties though and manages to stay true to herself.
While we get to learn more about Aurora, the multiple POV allows us to also explore a different side of Maleficent. Her love for her goddaughter is obvious, if not a tad misguided at times. We get to see her try to be the person Aurora thinks her to be though and not the evil witch King Stefan made her out to be. Her main priority now is Aurora and her safety. While a main character I felt like she took a backseat to the other events happening in the book. Always there but more of an unseen force than a main spectacle. I really enjoyed her moments with Prince Phillip though. She questions his motives and the validity of his feelings for Aurora like any real mother figure would do. It was a bit funny seeing her step into that role but very fitting.
Prince Phillip kept me guessing until the very end. We also get chapters from his POV and thank goodness because the opening of the story had me confused as heck. His kiss didn’t break the curse and then Aurora is describing him as a friend. Just no. That was not the story I signed up for and I needed love now. But then, just like Phillip and Aurora, I started thinking about how in real life you really don’t “love” someone after just meeting them once. This was a more realistic take on true love versus the Disney fairytales we’ve all grown up with.
Black did a magnificent job of bringing her fae knowledge and background into this classic tale and really fleshed out these characters we grew up both loving and hating. My favorite part was probably the riddles scattered throughout the story. It was a sweet way of connecting not only Aurora and Phillip, but bringing in that classic fae mischief. Disney fan or not this is a must read and is perfect for people of all ages to pick up. A well written twist on a classic story.