I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE WICKED ONES by Robin Benway Blog Tour hosted
by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
“Blood is blood…and one way or another, we all bleed.”
Drizella and Anastasia only know one thing for certain: they will never end up like their mother,
Lady Tremaine. When their father left them as young girls, he took what was left of their
family’s fortune and their mother’s dignity with him. A few years and one deceased stepfather
later, the only version of Lady Tremaine that Drizella and Anastasia know is a bitter and cruel
head of house. Anastasia and Drizella have promised themselves―and each other―that they’ll
be different. They’ll find love, see the world, and never let their hearts go cold.
But both sisters are all too aware of what it can mean when cast into disfavor with their
mother, and fueled by Lady Tremaine’s tendencies to pit the daughters against one another,
Drizella and Anastasia are locked into a complicated waltz of tenuous sisterhood. On the cusp
of the royal debut party―their one chance to impress the Prince and live up to their mother’s
expectations―the sisters at last get a glimpse of what life could be like outside of Lady
Tremaine’s intentions: Drizella discovering a love of science and Anastasia sparking a secret
romance. But never underestimate the power a mother whose greatest talents lie in
manipulation, and the sisters may learn that even the cruelest of hearts can spill blood.
This first book in the new Disney Villains Dark Ascension series by National Book Award-winning
author Robin Benway explores the complex sibling rivalry between the two wicked stepsisters
from Cinderella that turned them into the characters we know today.
I knew it was coming, but.. oh, my heart.
The Wicked Ones is akin to an origin story, for – you guessed it – the wicked stepmother and two ugly stepsisters, more emphasis on the stepsisters. And while the story is pretty predictable, it is also pretty heart wrenching.
For a good portion of the story, Drizella and Anastasia are sympathetic characters while their mother, Lady Tremaine is painted as the cruel and abusive villain. The sisters are almost completely likeable in the beginning. You actually root for them at one point or another.
Drizella (Drizzy) and Anastasia (Annie) are victims in a majority of this story. Their father leaves them in the middle of the night after robbing them with no explanation or goodbye… their stepfather, albeit a small, not very fleshed out role or even scene, mocks them at a public event and obviously cares for his birth daughter than them.. plus the constant emotional, psychological, and physical abuse from their mother. Lady Tremaine pitted her girls against their stepsister, Ella, withdrew them from school, and made it so neither girl would/could have friends.
Ella is also painted as a victim (rightfully so), but the main focus is on Drizella and Anastasia.
While the abuse is not overly descriptive, it is still.. thick enough and may be triggering for some readers.
Despite knowing what I was getting into, I was really rooting for Drizzy and Annie. The Wicked Ones really made them more human and relatable. That most people are not born wicked. You really empathize with them, rooting for their happy ending.
I enjoyed the third-person dual POV. This way, you really get to experience both girls’ backstory and pain. Even the prologue and epilogue were nicely done and added to the wrung out emotion from the story.
Every time the author mentioned a corset, I found myself annoyed. I wear them often enough and I don’t find them that uncomfortable. Maybe if I had someone like Lady Tremaine lacing it up, perhaps I’d find them uncomfortable and hard to breathe in, as well, but.. eh.
There are a few plot holes in the story – like Tremaine being cruel to Ella, while also degrading her own daughters, knowing one of them would be a sure thing to win the prince’s heart.. especially after the “debut” ball! How Lady Tremaine still has the social power to do all the things she threatens people with, but is a recluse in her own home, a social pariah if you will.
I thought it was great how the author gave more depth into [Cinder]Ella and the prince’s romance, even if by just a little bit. I’m not a huge fan of the inta-love trope, so Benway giving them a little bit of a backstory together was nice.
Honestly, the fact that either of these girls has a back story is great. Anastasia the dreamer, the foolishly in love.. she’s great! Whether she’s an “airhead” or not, she’s a great character who has depth. Drizella having a love for science, despite everything she’s been told – amazing! Wicked or not, these two girls have their own story and I hope more of its gets told.
The fact that Lady Tremaine is the villain by being a cruel person, no magic needed, was a fresh breath. There honestly was no magic in this story at all, and I rather liked it this way.
I feel like Cinderella/Disney fans of any age will enjoy The Wicked Ones by Robin Benway. I look forward to the other books in the ‘A Dark Ascension’ series.
I rated The Wicked Ones four stars.
About Robin Benway:
Robin Benway is a National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of
eight novels for young adults, including Far From the Tree, Audrey, Wait!, the AKA series, and
Emmy & Oliver. Her books have received numerous awards and recognition, including the PEN
America Literary Award, the Blue Ribbon Award from the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s
Books, ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults, and ALA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. In
addition, her novels have received starred reviews from Bookpage, Kirkus, Booklist, and
Publishers Weekly, and have been published in more than 25 countries. Her sixth novel, Far
From the Tree, won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the PEN America
Award, and was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, the Los
Angeles Times, NPR, PBS, Entertainment Weekly, and the Boston Globe. In addition to her
fictional work, her non-fiction work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Bustle, Elle, and
more. Her latest book, A Year To the Day, was published on June 21, 2022, and her next book,
The Wicked Ones, the origin story of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters, will be released by Disney
Books on January 10, 2023.
Robin grew up in Orange County, California, attended NYU, where she was a recipient of the
Seth Barkas Prize for Creative Writing, and is a graduate of UCLA. She currently lives in Los
Angeles with her dog, Hudson.
One (1) winner will receive a finished copy of THE WICKED ONES, US Only.
Ends February 4th , midnight EST.
Title: THE WICKED ONES (Dark Ascension, 1)
Author: Robin Benway
Pub. Date: January 10, 2023
Publisher: Disney Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Find it: Goodreads, https://books2read.com/THE-WICKED-ONES
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