Rating: 4 stars
In this second “Isle of the Lost” novel, “Return to Isle of the Lost,” Melissa de la Cruz continues her story about the next generation of the Disney characters we all love (and love to hate). Meet Carlos, Cruella De Vil’s son and Mal, daughter of Maleficent. The children of the most evil cartoon characters attend school in Auradon, far from their parents who still live under the dome on the Isle of the Lost, where magic is forbidden. The characters from the first novel all appear with a few additions.
The danger from Maleficent has been neutralized. She is now a small lizard (transformed from a dragon) under a dome of glass. She appears to be sleeping most of the time. Or is she? That’s part of the mystery that comes about when each of the main characters gets a mysterious message that they must return to the Isle of the Lost before the next full moon. Those from the Isle of the Lost aren’t sure why or from whom the messages originate. King Ben, one of the “good” guys, has his own adventure which keeps him busy throughout the story although he still communicates with the others.
They decide on a plan but there’s plenty of danger, and one of the biggest questions for the former villains is who can they trust from the Isle of the Lost? Are their former friends still their friends? Who would betray them? And on their adventure, each of the four, Mal, daughter of Maleficent; Evie, daughter of the evil queen in Snow White; Jay, the son of Jafar; and Carlos, son of Cruella De Vil, must confront — and overcome — their greatest challenge (or weakness, as the case may be). There are also: Ben, son of Belle and the Beast; Chad, son of Cinderella and King Charming; and a host of others. There are more characters and more references to minor Disney roles throughout the story.
What’s really cute is the way that de la Cruz has “Disney-fied” modern technology like texting and Facebook so that the characters in the story can communicate using what the readers are familiar with. She also created characters who, unlike many Disney characters, are multilayered. The children of the “bad guys” become good (but not totally) and some of the children of the Disney heroes are definitely not all good. The story has everything, adventure, mystery, magic, strong characters, and a plot that begs for a sequel.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by Disney, the publisher, for review purposes.