Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick

Maleficent - Elizabeth Rudnick

Here we have Maleficent, the wicked fairygodmother to Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty. The princess is the side character here; this is Maleficent's malevolent and magnificent tale, in which she is both the heroine and the villainess. Unlike the Disney adaptation, which was maledicted with instalove and inexplicable evil that seemed to exist solely to be evil, Maleficent here is a morally grey character, although still a bit inexplicable at times.

 

I do not know how much freedom the author has been given in this novelisation effort, but it reads like a faithful transcribe, with minimal fleshing out of characters and events. Therefore, it is subject to the same shortcomings that movies generally face: the short duration utilisable to tell the story usually necessitates in cutting off corners when it comes to, for example, world-building and character development. I have not watched the movie, though, so I cannot confirm this.

 

The story is told in a narrative matter-of-fact writing style, giving the impression of telling instead of showing. I felt like I was being told what happens in the movie, scene after scene. I'm sure the actors brought the characters to life, with gestures and body languages, which are sadly lacking in this book. Character study/Introspection is weak, hardly delving into the characters' thoughts - everything extra added seems to be on the surface.

 

In summary, the fairies of the moor are in a state of perpetual warfare with humans, for land and freedom. In the midst of this, you get a fairy/human love story, and I am not a writer, so if you want to know more, you should read the novella. It's only 130 pages long. Or just watch the movie, because I suspect that would be the better option. You'll find out why Maleficent becomes wicked, and it leads on to Sleeping Beauty as we know it (by which I mean the modernised version by Disney), but retold with some twists, some snark, some clichés, and a whole load of redemption.

 

Example of the writing in this book that I do not like:

-For some reason Maleficent becomes the de facto leader of a battle between fairies and humans, without any explanation as to why, since there should be others older and more experienced than her. Apparently the movie decided to skip the reasons why, and the book decided to follow suit?

-There is hardly any description of the Moors in which the fairies lived. We're told that it is beautiful and has a lake full of jewels (because it's necessary to the plot), and the rest is simply left to the imagination.

-Poor description of a battle sequence: They moved forward and backward, their motions a terrifying mockery of a romantic waltz. - and that's all she wrote. Right. I have read canon-compliant fanfics written better than this.

 

I believe this book would work excellently as a bedtime story narrated by a parent to his/her child. As a reader, though, I expect the characters between the pages to come to life for me, instead of needing life breathed into it, and this falls short of the mark.