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Literature / A Tale of...

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What happens when the Disney Princess universe goes Darker and Edgier? The result is Serena Valentino's series of children's novels published by Disney Press, each of which has the subtitle A Tale of [Character].

Set within an Alternate Continuity of the Disney Animated Canon that comes to encompass several films, each novel gives one of said films a Perspective Flip to a villainous, or at least antagonistic, character — first revealing their heretofore unknown Backstory, and going on to show how the events the reader thought they were familiar were more complex than depicted onscreen. The primary linking agents in the first six novels are "The Odd Sisters", witch triplets (Ruby, Martha, and Lucinda) who bedevil and often urge the principal character down the path of darkness; from Book 7 onwards, the stories are standalone.

The novels are:

  1. Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen (2009)
  2. The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince (2014)
  3. Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch (2016)
  4. Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy (2017)
  5. Mother Knows Best: A Tale of the Old Witch (2018)
  6. The Odd Sisters: A Tale of the Three Witches (2019)
  7. Evil Thing: A Tale of that Devil Woman (2020)
  8. Cold Hearted: A Tale of the Wicked Stepmother (2021)
  9. Never Never: A Tale of Captain Hook (2022)
  10. Fire & Fate: A Tale of Hades (2023)

Compare these other Alternate Continuity approaches to the Disney Animated Canon:

This series of novels has examples of:

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  • Adaptational Sympathy: The entire series does this to all the Disney Villains (and the Beast) by expounding on their backstories. This includes showing that The Evil Queen was the victim of an abusive father, Mother Gothel's own mother was just as wicked as she was and almost killed her sisters, The Beast had a lot of his own worst traits brought out by Gaston, Maleficent was the victim of bullying due to a birth defect, while Ursula was a target for Fantastic Racism at the hands of both the people of her native village and even her own brother, King Triton.
  • All Witches Have Cats: The Odd Sisters have Pflanze, introduced in the second book.
  • Alternate Continuity: To the Disney Animated Canon, primarily in giving the characters more developed backstories and relationships. There are other alterations that contradict the movies: In The Beast Within, Belle sees and hears the transformed servants as Animate Inanimate Objects but the Beast only sees inanimate objects turning up in odd places. Sees is the key term — he can hear them speaking to themselves and/or Belle if he doesn't see them.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The series mixes together several films that are in completely different time periods, making it impossible to pin down the time period of the books.
  • Audience Shift: The books are aimed at teens and young adults instead of general audiences like the original films.
  • Base on Wheels: The Odd Sisters' house has been in many different locations, owing to its ability to be flown through the air.
  • Big Bad: The Odd Sisters, who obsessively meddle with the troubled lives of others with horrific results.
  • Crossover: The series establishes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and Tangled as sharing a common setting of several adjoining kingdoms, with the films listed in more or less the order of when their events unfold in the timeline. The Odd Sisters have a hand in the events of all of them (the presence of the Blue Fairy in Mistress of All Evil suggests that Pinocchio also exists in this setting).
  • Darker and Edgier: A Tale of... is a Twice-Told Tale crossover series of interconnected novels set in an Alternate Universe take on the Disney Animated Canon. Most, if not all, the films take place in one universe. The original book was a dark but sympathetic twist on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from the POV of Grimhilde. The other books are also based around Disney villains, though the original characters receive more spotlight in the sequels. And good luck finding any mention of suicide not intended as a Heroic Sacrifice in the Disney Animated Canon...
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Odd Sisters adopt this look; their hair is naturally black with the odd white streak, styled into ringlets, but they use white makeup on their faces. With their red, red lips, they get compared to Creepy Dolls more than once.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Odd Sisters are completely baffled by Circe's sense of morality. Circe herself can't comprehend theirs.
  • Evil Gloating: This is practically a pastime for the Odd Sisters, especially in The Beast Within.
  • Evil Laugh: All three Odd Sisters have this, and usually laugh in unison, particularly when they want to torment others. Ursula gladly joins in when she enters the action. Witches' laughs can echo across all the kingdoms when they want them to, which is related to their ability to summon the help of others of their kind as needed.
  • Evil Wears Black: The Odd Sisters from The Beast Within onward.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: The Odd Sisters know both Ursula and Maleficent, but are determined for the two never to interact with each other due to their respective Elemental Powers (water and fire) invoking this trope.
  • For the Evulz: The Odd Sisters' primary motivation.
  • Gingerbread House: The Odd Sisters and Circe live in one.
  • Grimmification: Usually this trope applies to the stories Disney films are based on, but here it applies to the films themselves.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: The left half of the main character's face against a black background — but the dust jacket and the actual hard cover beneath it have them in different forms:
    • Fairest of All: The Queen on the jacket, the Old Peddler on the cover.
    • The Beast Within: The Beast on the jacket, the Prince on the cover.
    • Poor Unfortunate Soul: Ursula on the jacket, Vanessa on the cover.
    • Mistress of All Evil: Maleficent on the jacket, her dragon form on the cover.
    • Mother Knows Best: A youthful Gothel on the jacket, an elderly Gothel on the cover.
  • Karma Houdini: The Odd Sisters get off scot-free in Fairest of All (a few reader reviews at also argue that the Prince/Beast is this in relation to his crimes in The Beast Within, but this was not intentional). However, Poor Unfortunate Soul reveals that they do end up being abandoned by their sister Circe over the events of The Beast Within — not that they have an epiphany over it or anything.
  • Magic Mirror: The Odd Sisters have a houseful of others used for spying purposes.
  • Moving Buildings: The Odd Sisters' house, which is capable of flight when summoned to do so.
  • No Name Given: The Queen and The Prince/The Beast didn't have given names in their films, and don't get them here, either. Several original characters are only known by titles as well: The King, The Maker of Mirrors, The Maestro.
  • Oh, My Gods!:
    • The characters use "gods" instead of "God".
    • Hades (as in the Hades from Hercules) is used instead of Hell, regardless of the character's presumed religious beliefs. Characters get damned "to Hades". "Hades" is also used in the place of Hell-related curses, like "damn". Thus we get phrases like "[her] Hades-may-care attitude".
  • Perspective Flip: To villainous/antagonistic characters in the films, with The Prince/The Beast given a much darker backstory than the film did.
  • The Power of Hate: The Odd Sisters thrive on this, and encourage it in others. Ironically, they accidentally invoke it in Circe, who turns against them by the end of The Beast Within over what they do to the Prince/Beast and leaves them — which crosses the trope over with The Power of Love (she loved the Prince once, and comes to hate the Sisters for what they do to him).
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Fairest of All for the Queen, the first two acts of The Beast Within for the Beast (the final act is his Redemption Quest), Mistress of All Evil for Maleficent, and Mother Knows Best for Gothel.
  • Purple Is the New Black: The Odd Sisters wear dark purple, almost black, dresses in the first book. In the later books they usually wear black, and occasionally red.
  • Ravens and Crows: In addition to the crow that comes to live in the Queen's secret lab, the Odd Sisters' house ends up surrounded by Creepy Crows (actually Maleficent's messengers; her personal pet Diablo also appears) and the fireplace features carvings of two ravens flanking it.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Odd Sisters. While they were in Fairest of All, they only turned up now and then to push the Queen further along the road to madness. The Beast Within has them much more actively involved in the plot, such as being the cause of several canon events (the wolves pursuing Belle when she leaves the castle, the Beast choosing to spare Gaston's life). This makes the Beast, who is the supposed protagonist, come across as more of a Decoy Protagonist. The Odd Sisters are joined by Princess Tulip and Nanny in Poor Unfortunate Soul, which alternates the fallout of the previous book's events as with Ursula's Revenge quest against Triton but again seems more concerned with the original characters than Ursula (Ariel barely appears).
  • Telepathy: The Odd Sisters have this and use it often to further their plans. The only mind they can't manage to read is Ursula's.
  • Trilogy Creep: Poor Unfortunate Soul was advertised as the last novel in a trilogy when it was released, but it ended with a Sequel Hook and Mistress of All Evil arrived the following year.
  • True Love's Kiss: Beyond it being needed to break the Sleeping Death in Fairest of All and make Ariel's transformation permanent in Poor Unfortunate Soul, it's also a condition of breaking the curse in The Beast Within, though Circe herself changes that to save the dying Beast at the end.
  • Twice-Told Tale: Of the Disney Animated Canon.
  • Wicked Witch: The Odd Sisters, the Queen (eventually) and Ursula.
  • You Mean "Xmas": No matter the book, winter solstice is celebrated. It's celebrated in a way that heavily resembles Christmas, complete with a solstice tree. The exception is in Mother Knows Best, where Manea's family celebrates a version of samhain rather than a more cheerful winter solstice.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Circe is a little sister to the Odd Sisters, and they tend to treat her with condescension, but they know that she is actually more powerful than they are and certainly far more beautiful. But what really pushes her into this trope is the fact that she is fundamentally good, to the point that she saves the day in The Beast Within.

     Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen 

  • Abusive Parents: The Maker of Mirrors was a horrible, abusive father to his daughter, the Queen. And though he is dead, somehow his spirit has become trapped in one of his own mirrors, which the Odd Sisters give her as a wedding present...
  • Ascended Extra: The Slave in the Magic Mirror (aka the Queen's father).
  • Beauty to Beast: The Evil Queen used to be a sweet girl who got railed on by her father into the vain, abusive lady she is today. Her appearance seems to also change a little to go with her descent to evil.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Fairest of All ends with the Queen becoming the new slave in the Magic Mirror after her suicide — but restored to goodness, and thus not the toxic influence to Snow White that her father was to her. Poor Unfortunate Soul goes on to reveal that Snow is now completely safe from the Odd Sisters' meddling thanks to the Queen, who is now her protector.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The book has its fair share of blood and light gore, especially in the Queen's nightmare sequences.
  • Book Ends: Fairest of All begins with the Queen's wedding and ends with Snow White's.
  • Burn the Witch!: Referenced by the Queen. Believing she's hallucinating, she fears telling people about the things she sees in her mirror because she'll be burned for being deemed a witch.
  • Clashing Cousins: The Odd Sisters are the distant cousins of the King. Snow White also refers to them as her cousins. The sisters do nothing but antagonize and try to kill Snow.
  • Creepy Child: Snow White isn't this, but as the Queen succumbs to the Odd Sisters' influence, she begins to have nightmares of her stepdaughter as a little girl, confronting her as a child corpse with her heart missing. The heart is in the Queen's hands.
    Snow: Momma, can I please have my heart back?
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Queen comes to desire her stepdaughter's demise just so she won't have to be faced with her happiness and beauty.
  • Disney Villain Death: As in their source film, The Queen. Or so it appears — the Queen actually committed suicide.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The Queen has several nightmares over the years involving a hideous old crone. This turns out to be the form she takes as the old peddler woman when she prepares to kill Snow White.
  • Driven to Madness: The Queen is slowly driven mad as the years pass by the spirit of her dead father and the Odd Sisters, which ultimately manifests itself in extreme jealousy of the stepdaughter she loves.
  • Driven to Suicide The Queen, repenting for her crimes.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The Queen tells Snow of Sleeping Beauty. According to future books, Sleeping Beauty is a real thing in their world. It's later shown that the Odd Sisters have a magical book that writes down stories, however it's supposed to only write them as they happen.
  • Evil Wears Black: The Queen and her old peddler form.
  • Fairy Tale Free-for-All: As a result of the Disney Princesses' kingdoms being in the same setting, their source fairytales are crossing over with each other.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Queen's problems start with Daddy Issues and snowball from there.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Queen slowly becomes this trope as the legacy of her father's abuse, the death of her husband in battle, and the encouragement of the Odd Sisters converge upon her.
  • The Good King: The Queen's husband/Snow White's father is this. (Unfortunately, the Odd Sisters are his cousins.)
  • Good Stepmother: The Evil Queen starts out as a kind and loving step-mother who adores her step-daughter like a biological child. Eventually, she warps into the evil step-mother.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The Queen becomes jealous of Snow White as years go by not only because she is so beautiful, but because even after the loss of both her parents and her stepmother becoming distant and cruel, she remains kind and loving.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: The Queen's secondary concern in Fairest of All.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: The Queen, having suffered under an abusive father for so long, wants to be loved even more than she wants to be beautiful.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: The Odd Sisters' initial meeting with young Snow White has them telling her they'd love to make a potion out of her body parts, a conversation that they later claim to her stepmother was just teasing that got out of hand.
  • Lost in Imitation: Just like the original film, it takes from the 1916 adaptation (and its theatrical version) of the fairy-tale. The King died in a war and the Huntsman is given a Sadistic Choice between his life and his children's. The Odd Sisters also could count as expies of the unnamed witch from the film.
  • Magic Mirror: There's the Queen's magical mirror in Fairest of All, which contains her father's spirit and later her own soul.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: The Queen's relationship with her father in a nutshell.
  • Missing Mom: The Queen never knew her mother, who died soon after her daughter was born. Part of her (eventually corrupted) affection for her stepdaughter stems from Snow White being born under similar circumstances.
  • Prince Charming: Snow White's unnamed prince, as from the original film, is nothing but kind to Snow White.
  • Psycho Serum: When the Queen hits emotional rock bottom and finds herself wavering over whether she should destroy her stepdaughter altogether, the Odd Sisters give her a potion (created from their own spit) that both deadens her emotional pain and lingering affection for Snow White and makes her completely ruthless and willing to kill.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The Evil Queen offs herself, but not before coming to her senses about her villainy.
  • Rescue Romance: In Fairest of All Snow White meets her prince when she falls into the courtyard's wishing well and he helps to save her from drowning.
  • Royal Blood: The Odd Sisters are/were cousins to The Good King of Snow White's kingdom. Circe notes in The Beast Within that the four of them do indeed come from a royal lineage.
  • Uncertain Doom: The Huntsman's fate in Snow White is never revealed, but in Fairest of All the Queen stabs him when she learns of his deception, so he may or may not have suffered Death by Adaptation.
  • Warrior Prince: The King in Fairest of All; during Snow White's childhood his kingdom is at war with another and at one point he and his family have to flee the castle through secret passages during an enemy attack. Some time afterward, he dies in battle.
  • Wicked Stepmother: The Queen initially isn't one. But the Odd Sisters, when asking little Snow White about her, note that the stepmothers of legend are evil, and proceed to enforce the trope by helping to drive the Queen to villainy.

     The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince 

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Gaston comes off as a nicer, less misogynistic person in The Beast Within than he is in Beauty and the Beast, although he is still a villainous figure by the end of it. By comparison, the Beast/Prince is significantly less sympathetic.
  • Aesop Enforcer: Circe. The Odd Sisters, unfortunately, are determined to see that the Prince never learns his lesson by interfering with his life.
  • Anti-Villain: Circe, primarily because she is capable of compassion for those beyond her family (unlike her sisters). While placing a potentially-horrific curse on the Prince, his household, and his best friend is Disproportionate Retribution for his choosing to break off their engagement over her (supposed) status, she does build a Curse Escape Clause into it and honestly hopes he will become a better person before it fully takes hold. She also is appalled by the collateral damage his initial attempt to break the curse results in and takes steps to correct it, and objects to her sisters' interference in the curse's progression.
  • Ascended Extra: The Enchantress is given more character and is not only revealed to be Circe, but also was shown to be the Beast's first lover.
  • Beauty to Beast: The Prince and Princess Tulip (temporarily) in The Beast Within.
  • Brainless Beauty: Princess Tulip Morningstar — but only because she wasn't given the chance to become worldly-wise and book smart, which would have made her a much happier person.
  • Broken Aesop: Circe's calling out of the Prince over dumping her because she was apparently a peasant is a perfectly valid point to make. It's a little hard to take it seriously when she keeps being interrupted by her sisters laughing at the absurdity of their little sister being a farmer's daughter when they all are actually descended from an ancient royal line.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Princess Tulip is rescued from a suicide attempt in this manner in The Beast Within.
  • Cats Are Mean: The Odd Sisters' pet cat Pflanze acts as a spy for them in the Prince's castle in The Beast Within. She may also be responsible for the unexplained mauling the Prince suffers in the royal garden that leads to the dissolution of his engagement to Princess Tulip. That said, she shows a kinder side in Poor Unfortunate Soul.
  • Character Development: By choice, after the events of The Beast Within Princess Tulip evolves into a more intelligent, worldly-wise woman.
  • Complexity Addiction: To bring about the Beast's downfall, the witches seem to think the best way to go about things is to make Belle homesick and hope that the Beast thinks to give her the mirror as she lives, then tell Gaston to have her father committed by introducing him to their friend the asylum owner, then anticipating Belle revealing the Beast to everyone, then expect Gaston to go kill him. Apparently all that was a better plan than casting an enchantment on Belle (they use magic to make her miss her father, so it's not like they couldn't do that) or even having the asylum owner forcibly commit her directly. Keep in mind that the last petal falls from the rose that very evening, so really they would have succeeded in making the curse permanent simply by having Belle spend the night tending to her father!
  • Contrived Coincidence: The Odd Sisters apparently planned for everything in the climax of Beauty and the Beast to happen, from Belle wanting to visit her father again to the Beast giving her the mirror to Gaston deciding to kill the Beast. This is despite the fact that many of the actions (most notably Belle choosing to reveal the Beast to the townsfolk and Gaston choosing to hunt him) are spur-of-the-moment decisions that would have been nearly impossible to account for.
  • Dances and Balls: The Prince has one to find a new fiancée after breaking off his engagement with Circe in Fairest of All. It's Gaston's idea, inspired by the example of a prince from a neighboring kingdom finding success "after the matter of the glass slipper was sorted".
  • Deal with the Devil: In The Beast Within, Princess Tulip exchanges her beauty and voice to Ursula for her own survival. Circe manages to break this deal.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Circe curses the Prince over breaking up with her.
    • The Prince arranges for the Maestro to be killed simply for painting a portrait of him that accurately portrays the effects of the Slow Transformation he's undergoing.
  • Disney Villain Death: As in their source film, Gaston.
  • Driven to Madness: The sisters' torment of the Prince/Beast also pushes him towards outright insanity.
  • Driven to Suicide: Princess Tulip Morningstar, though it's stopped before death can occur... by Ursula.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Both Gaston and The Prince, who was responsible for at least as many, if not more, trophies in the village tavern as Gaston was.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Odd Sisters do dote upon Circe... all too much.
  • Evil Former Friend: Gaston to the Prince is a complex example. Gaston was the son of the royal gamekeeper. Unfortunately, their friendship only encouraged the worst aspects of each other's natures post-childhood, as each became evil. While the Prince ultimately becomes a better person as the Beast, Gaston is never faced with a similar need to change his ways — and thanks to the curse both men ultimately forget they ever knew each other...
  • Extreme Doormat: The Prince's servants, even as the curse takes hold.
  • Foil: Princess Tulip is this to Belle — the former is a woman of high birth who never had to do much thinking of her own and has no backbone, the latter is a commoner who educated herself to the best of her abilities and is able to stand up to the Beast.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Narrowly subverted. The Beast Within reveals that The Prince actually saw Belle at the ball he was throwing — from the back. He tries to talk to her, but Gaston dissuades him from doing so.
  • For Your Own Good: The Odd Sisters regard their "contributions" to the Prince's torment, which Circe does not approve of, as this trope with regards to her.
  • Gold Digger: When the kisses the Prince shares with Princess Tulip fail to break his curse, he accuses her of being this all along. In truth, she sincerely loves him — but he only believes he loves her, and that's why the kisses don't work.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: The Prince does this twice while wooing Princess Tulip — first with an elaborate Christmas display in the ballroom, second a path of rose petals that lead into the royal rose garden. He sabotages himself the first time by expressing disgust with her when she runs into his arms before making herself presentable for the occasion. The second time is successful enough to evoke a Hope Spot, but that ultimately comes to nothing; both times, the fact that he doesn't actually love her gets in the way. He does come to care about Belle, however, and this contributes to his gesture of "giving her" the castle library succeeding wonderfully.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Princess Tulip's hair is stated to be blonde and she's a nice girl inside out — not that it helps her much.
  • Hope Spot: The Prince shares a kiss (several in fact) with Princess Tulip and believes the curse is broken... but then he's mauled in the garden's hedge maze by an unidentified assailant. Realizing that the kiss failed, he blames and lashes out at her and evicts her and her nanny from the castle. Things go downhill from there.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Princess Tulip's family and by extension kingdom is slipping into financial ruin, which is one reason they consent to her marrying the far-better-off Prince. The Prince, for his part, doesn't care about what will become of them once the engagement is broken.
  • I Owe You My Life: Gaston saved the Prince's life in childhood, which is one reason their friendship is so strong — until the curse takes hold of them. To save Gaston, the Odd Sisters force the Beast to remember this during their battle on the castle roof.
  • It's All About Me:
    • The Prince. Even as he initially tries to break the curse by wooing Princess Tulip, his concern for himself above all else prevents him from truly loving her even as she comes to honestly love him despite his faults. Of course, Gaston comes to hold a similar attitude.
    • The Odd Sisters do not have any understanding of why Circe turns against them because of this trope. They honestly believe that she should love them for everything they do for her in The Beast Within, even though their actions ruin the lives of others and are not what she actually wants.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Princess Tulip takes a shine to Pflanze (not realizing who she's in the employ of) in The Beast Within and the relationship is happily rekindled in the next book when Pflanze arrives hoping to find out what has become of Circe.
  • Living Statue: In The Beast Within, the castle and its grounds slowly begin to fill with these as the Prince/Beast's curse takes hold. Only he knows they are alive, and he only sees them move out of the corner of his eye; otherwise they seem to appear and disappear at will.
  • Love Martyr: Princess Tulip becomes one to the Prince. It doesn't work.
  • Love Potion: Princess Tulip's violently determined suitors in Poor Unfortunate Soul turn out to be affected by an enchantment, according to Nanny; the responsible party is never confirmed, but it's implied to be Circe's good intentions for the princess going horribly wrong.
  • Karmic Transformation: The Prince in The Beast Within.
  • Love Redeems: For the Prince/Beast and the Enchantress in The Beast Within.
  • Magic Mirror: The Prince/Beast has one in The Beast Within.
  • Metaphorically True: After Cogsworth disappears, the Prince overhears Lumiere speaking to him and opens the door to find Lumiere alone. Believing the servants are tormenting him behind his back, he asks Lumiere if he's seen Cogsworth lately. Lumiere replies that he has not seen Cogsworth "in the flesh" in some time. This is true in the sense that Cogsworth is no longer human, but an animate clock (and to the Prince's eyes, he isn't even animate).
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Beast Within reveals that The Enchantress's name is Circe.
  • Never My Fault: The Prince blames the curse and his inability to break it on others — Circe, the Odd Sisters, Princess Tulip, etc. — never acknowledging that it's his heartlessness that provoked the curse in the first place and is the key reason he can't break it. Eventually, as his relationship with Belle progresses, he abandons this line of thinking (admittedly, there may be some truth behind blaming the Odd Sisters, who are intent on everything going wrong and the curse becoming permanent).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Princess Tulip regards Circe saving her from Ursula's bargain as this, because she'd come to believe Beauty Is Bad and was looking forward to being loved for herself.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Happens twice in The Beast Within, owing largely to For the Evulz going awry for the Odd Sisters. First, they send the forest wolves to chase and kill the fleeing Belle — giving the pursuing Beast an alternate target for his fury, and ultimately bringing the two closer together. Second, in a moment of Evil Gloating, they show Circe that the Beast is dying after Gaston stabs him. Moved by Belle's grief, Circe breaks the curse upon him and revives him in the bargain.
  • Prince Charmless: The Prince, as his spoiled, selfish, haughty nature leads him to break his fiancée's heart, which results in him being cursed. This only makes matters worse for everyone concerned, as his fear of what he's becoming (not helped by the meddling of the Odd Sisters) spurs him on to even crueler actions — arranging for a painter to be killed and rejecting a second fiancée and dooming her kingdom to ruin in the process. The latter act accelerates the curse's progress.
  • Princess Classic: Princess Tulip Morningstar, but this is played for tragedy — having been raised to be no more than this trope when she knows she could be getting more out of life, she is also a Stepford Smiler woefully unprepared to deal with the cruelty of the Prince.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Princess Tulip seems to think her favorite color is pink, especially in clothing.
  • Promotion to Love Interest: The Enchantress turns out to be the Prince/Beast's first love!
  • Rule of Three: The Prince/Beast's attempts at Grand Romantic Gestures (see above).
  • Sequel Hook: In the late going of The Beast Within, Ursula has an offstage role and hints to her backstory, revealed in the next book, are given. The epilogue of Poor Unfortunate Soul is this for the next stretch of novels, as the Odd Sisters are rendered comatose and another witch approaches Circe and Nanny.
  • Shout-Out: Circe appearing to be a pig-farmer's daughter to the Prince is this to her namesake in The Odyssey, who turned men into pigs.
  • Slow Transformation: The Beast Within plays the Prince's transformation into the Beast as this. In a related issue, the servants become statues/objects one at a time, rather than all at once.
  • Stepford Smiler: Princess Tulip in The Beast Within is a Type A, because she was raised only to be a loving, obedient royal wife rather than a person with her own desires and ambitions. As her relationship with the Prince progresses, her depression gets much, much worse as she struggles to keep up a façade of unbroken happiness for him.
  • Stalker with a Crush: A bevy of princes are enchanted into this (possibly a ploy by Circe Gone Horribly Wrong) and form an angry mob to reach Princess Tulip in Poor Unfortunate Soul. The ones that survive Ursula sending them adrift with giant waves recover afterward.
  • Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Gender-swapped and subverted. The Prince breaks off his engagement to Circe upon learning she's only a pig-farmer's daughter — and then learns that she actually has Royal Blood, not to mention supernatural blood, and is overjoyed that he can still marry her. Subverted in that she no longer wants to be his wife by that point, since he was not willing to accept her as a commoner.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In the flashbacks to before the curse, the Prince is an avid hunter and spends all of his time in Belle's town, where he drinks and flirts with all the pretty women. He is also a misogynist who makes it clear that he doesn't approve of women reading or having their own opinions and likes that Princess Tulip Morningstar doesn't seem to have much personality so he can make her how he wants her to be. Hmm, who does that sound like, again? Interestingly, while Gaston is also present for that part of the book, he himself shows few of those traits.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Apparently Circe's feelings about the Beast's near-death in The Beast Within, as she abandons her sisters entirely afterward, leaving them to beg Ursula's help to recover her as Poor Unfortunate Soul begins.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Both the Prince and Gaston, with the implication that their lives of luxury made them decadent and self-centered.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In The Beast Within, the Prince asks for Gaston to arrange for someone to kill the Maestro because he believes the Maestro deliberately painted a portrait of him to look older than he is. This is completely forgotten afterward. We never find out if Gaston goes through with it or if the Maestro survives.
  • Woman Scorned: Circe in The Beast Within. She was the Prince's original fiancée before he learned of her low station as the daughter of a pig farmer. When he refused to accept her as what she appeared to be, she revealed her true nature as The Enchantress — the younger sibling of The Odd Sisters — and cursed him.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The Beast Within scraps the movie's implication that the Beast was cursed when he was only 11 years old, but keeps the condition of the curse becoming permanent when he turns 21. It's not clear at all how much time passes over the course of the story — he is old enough to be engaged when he's cursed, and several months pass as the curse begins to take effect, but then years pass after that. Thus the Beast's age remains in doubt.

     Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch 

  • Almighty Janitor: Nanny turns out to be The One of Legends, a powerful white witch, in Poor Unfortunate Soul.
  • Batman Gambit: Ursula the sea witch uses one, exploiting Ariel's love for Eric, Triton's hatred for humans, Circe's desperation to flee her sisters, and the Odd Sisters' desperation to get Circe back.
  • Beauty to Beast: Ursula regards this as having happened to her when Triton forced her to become a mermaid to be allowed into his kingdom.
  • Being Human Sucks: Ursula feels this way about having to assume a human form as needed, humans being so much weaker.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Poor Unfortunate Soul ends with Ursula succumbing to madness and hate, and the Odd Sisters being rendered comatose by their successful effort to kill her. In addition, although this was advertised as the final novel in a trilogy, the epilogue has another witch arriving to speak with Circe and Nanny, setting the stage for at least two more books.
  • Burn the Witch!: When Ursula was revealed to be non-human, her fellow villagers attempted this.
  • Dances and Balls: In Ursula's backstory in Poor Unfortunate Souls, she appeared at a royal ball in Triton's kingdom in her true form. He was outraged, and wife Queen Athena confronted him over it, a kindness that Ursula never forgot.
  • Deal with the Devil: Of course, Ursula, the Villain Protagonist of Poor Unfortunate Soul, is all about this... even with the Odd Sisters.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Ursula takes revenge on the village of Ipswitch and its residents by leveling it and turning them into Half-Human Hybrid sea monsters.
  • Driven to Madness: Ursula herself turns out to have been driven to this in Poor Unfortunate Soul.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The climax of Poor Unfortunate Souls suggests this, as it involves most of the black and white witches of the world uniting to destroy Ursula, who has gone insane and power-mad.
  • Evil Wears Black: Ursula — who invokes the trope naturally.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ursula was an adrift Heartwarming Orphan Raised by Humans until her abilities and true form kicked in. Her village turned upon her and killed her father for trying to protect her; she responded by destroying the village and turning them into hybrid monsters. Then her brother Triton, who only tracked her down due to rules of succession, not only forced her to give up her true form to live in his world but subsequently took advantage of this fit of rage to discredit and banish her to become the lone ruler of the Earth's oceans.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Ursula intends to become an example of this trope, which might not have happened had King Triton allowed her to rule alongside him, as their divine parents may well have wanted (having equally split magical abilities between them).
  • Half-Human Hybrid: When Ursula took revenge on the village of Ipswitch over her father's death, she turned its residents into these. Triton, subsequently used the incident to discredit her and take the throne of ruler of the sea, even though he harbored Fantastic Racism against humans.
  • Humanity Ensues: Ursula has a human form (Vanessa) she can voluntarily shapeshift into for meetings with the Odd Sisters and the like. In fact, it was the only body she knew before her powers kicked in.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Apparently a concern of Ursula the Sea Witch... though in an unconventional way, as she sees her true form as beautiful and resents others trying to force her into something more human/mermaid-like.
  • Karmic Transformation: Ursula transforms the people of Ipswitch into Half-Human Hybrid sea monsters as punishment for turning upon her when she was revealed as a sea creature.
  • Love Redeems: To a certain extent the Odd Sisters in Poor Unfortunate Soul.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Nanny in Poor Unfortunate Soul, who actually started remembering her past as The One of Legends in the previous book but has kept it a secret from others.
  • Papa Wolf: Ursula's adoptive human father died trying to keep her from being killed by his fellow villagers when they realized what she was.
  • The Power of Hate: The sisters' hopes that Ursula can help get her back hinge on her having long since been incapable of love, leaving only this. In fact, her hate becomes so powerful that it eventually subsumes her entire original personality.
  • Prince Charming: Both Princes Eric and Popinjay once he's disenchanted in Poor Unfortunate Soul.
  • Puberty Superpower: It's implied that Ursula began to realize she wasn't human and come into her magical abilities when she hit puberty.
  • Redemption Equals Affliction: The Odd Sisters in the third book, who are rendered comatose after helping defeat Ursula.
  • The Reveal: In Poor Unfortunate Soul, it turns out that Ursula made Circe her prisoner via one of her deals, knowing her sisters would do anything to help Ursula if she'd agree to help them find her. This allowed her to regain her full abilities and use their hate to augment her own and become ruler of the oceans.
  • Second Love: Princess Tulip finds one in Prince Popinjay in Poor Unfortunate Soul.
  • Sizeshifter: Ursula can change her size at will. It's great for making a big entrance, as she does at the start of Poor Unfortunate Soul.
  • Spectacle: Ursula invokes this trope by performing musical numbers to prospective "clients", such as Ariel. She doesn't actually enjoy it, finding it demeaning, but whatever works to get them into her clutches...
  • Villain Protagonist: Ursula; unlike the books about the Queen and Prince, which spend most of their time on their descent into villainy, hers is presented primarily in the past tense, as flashbacks and recounting.
  • Villain Song: As in the movie, Ursula gets one with "Poor Unfortunate Souls".

     Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy 

  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Maleficent's demonic henchmen are Hades' ex-henchmen.
  • Bullying the Disabled: Maleficent's lack of wings is essentially a birth defect. She was teased and called a "wingless freak" as a child.
  • The Bus Came Back: Snow White and the no longer Evil Queen return in Mistress of All Evil after being offstage for two books. Several decades have passed since the original book.
  • Creepy Crows: Fairies deem crows to be evil. Crows flock around the Odd Sisters' house in Poor Unfortunate Soul, later being revealed as Maleficent's messengers.
  • Curse Cut Short: Nanny cuts herself on while complaining about fairies:
    Oh, they don't realize how hateful they really are. They think they're full of magic and light and all things good! Like sugar and honey comes out of their... Well, you get my point.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: This is attempted with Flora, Fauna, Merryweather, Maleficent, and the Blue Fairy. However, Maleficent ends up dropping out due to bullying and a lack of a challenge. She instead opts to be homeschooled by her mother.
  • Ironic Name: Diablo's name was intended to be a Take That! at the fairies for giving Maleficent her frightening name. Diablo's a benevolent raven with an intimidating name.
  • The Fair Folk: Fairies look cute but are quite judgmental and petty. They do, in general, have good intentions but they are certainly not nice.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: The Odd Sisters are Circe's mothers through a spell but raised her as their sibling.
  • Fantastic Racism: Fairies are a very judgmental species. They look down upon those that aren't fairies and those that aren't pretty. Maleficent received the blunt of this discrimination throughout her childhood.
  • The Great Offscreen War: The Tree Lords were previously in a war with Cyclopean Giants.
  • Living Mood Ring: In Mistress of All Evil, Maleficent's skin changes color depending on her mood. It's a light purple when she's happy or nervous, but turns green when she's bitter.
  • Mythology Gag: Attina is Triton's oldest daughter, just like in The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning. This contrasts with earlier media having Aquata as the elder sister.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: Maleficent was destined to be evil and Nanny knew this, but she was attempting to steer her away from that path. Maleficent had a happy, normal childhood despite her ostracization, however she still ended up becoming evil due to her feelings of betrayal from Nanny.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Maleficent is Aurora's mother.
  • True Love's Kiss: Maleficent mocks this trope. She complains about the fairies lack of creativity in that so many princesses are saved this way . Maleficent also rants about women having to be saved by men and how many princesses probably feel they owe the men their hand in marriage for saving them.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: Queen Leah isn't Aurora's mother anymore. It's never explained why they have a Strong Family Resemblance, however.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Maleficent doesn't understand how Snow White can just sit around and let her step-mother spiral into a grief-driven madness on her own.

     Mother Knows Best: A Tale of the Old Witch 

  • Affectionate Nickname: Hazel and Gothel refer to Primrose as "Prim".
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Primrose and Hazel become very sick soon after Manea's death. It's unknown if the illnesses were simply coincidental, psychological, or magical.
    • Primrose and Hazel die soon after Gothel meets the Odd Sisters. It's implied, though never confirmed, that it isn't a coincidence.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Together forever", referring to Gothel's wish to be with her sisters forever.
    • "You are destined to be alone", originally said by Manea to her daughter Gothel.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Manea's three daughters: Hazel (silver), Gothel (black), and Primrose (red). Their lack of resemblance is noted to be ominous for witches. It's also foreshadowing to the fact they're not actually triplets.
  • Call-Forward: Gothel kills her mother in a similar way to how Rapunzel kills her. They're both turned to dust by their daughters.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Mrs. Tiddlebottom mocks fairy-tales who have princesses kissing sleeping princesses. She doesn't want Rapunzel to end up "kissed by a prince taking far too many liberties with a sleeping princess".
  • Foreshadowing: There's a lot of foreshadowing to only Gothel being Manea's daughter (and being a daughter made of magic at that), such as how Manea fawns over her and the lines where Manea say "Sisters? Ha! They're nothing to you, Gothel!".
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Gothel and Manea's manner of deaths resemble each other. They're both "betrayed" by daughters and turned into dust.
    • Unbeknownst to Gothel, Manea stole Primrose and Hazel from two separate villages and raised them as her own. Gothel did a similar thing with Rapunzel.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: There's the line "Lucinda gives Gothel a queer look".
  • Love at First Sight: This is mocked twice. First, Martha wonders why so many princesses fall in love with the first boy they meet. Second, the Odd Sisters mention that Rapunzel is likely so infatuated with Eugene because she craves the affection she was missing in her childhood.
  • Mage Species: Gothel comes from a long line of witches. They apparently all reproduce using magic.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The unnamed flower from the film is identified as a "rapunzel" flower. This fixes the Adaptation Induced Plothole of Rapunzel's odd name.
  • Nephewism: To make herself seem less suspicious, Gothel spins a story that Rapunzel is her niece. One of her sisters had her out of wedlock and Gothel is saving face by raising Rapunzel herself.
  • Offing the Offspring: Manea tries to murder her daughters after they betray her. Though, it's later revealed that Primrose and Hazel were stolen and Manea doesn't view them as her own.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Gothel comes from a long-line of Queens of the Dead. They live as long as they want and only die when they feel they're ready to "enter the mists" (presumably referring to Hades' underworld). Gothel herself is several centuries old when she dies.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Jacob wonders if Manea's prophecy about three sisters ruining the Dead Woods wasn't a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Self-Made Orphan: To save her sisters, Gothel sets all the rapunzel flowers on fire, killing her mother.
  • Shout-Out: Mrs. Tiddlebottom makes reference to Bluebeard. She keeps her nose out of Gothel's business because she doesn't want to end up like the woman in the story.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": Gothel calls her mother a "witch" in this manner:
    Gothel: Stay away from my sisters, you witch!
  • Undead Child: Manea has an entire village slaughtered. She has the villagers, children included, made a part of her undead army. This is the last straw for Primrose and Hazel, who can't believe their mother would do such a thing.
  • Villain Song: Gothel sings "Mother Knows Best" (but the reprise is spoken). Her sing-song nature gets mocked by the Odd Sisters.

     The Odd Sisters: A Tale of the Three Witches 

  • The Reveal: The Odd Sisters are the daughters of Manea and Jacob, and were actually born as one single baby but their grandmother Nestis split them into three.

     Evil Thing: A Tale of the Devil Woman 

  • Abusive Parents: Cruella's mother.
  • All for Nothing: Lord De Vil, Cruella's father, tried to save her from ending up like her mother by adjusting his will so that she would inherit everything, and urging her to promise to keep the De Vil name even after she married. But his widow's abuse ran too deep in Cruella, and she was so desperate for a parent's love that she willingly signed her inheritance to her mother.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Were the earrings from Cruella's father really cursed, and that is what caused her Sanity Slippage? Or did her mother's abuse just run too deep for Cruella to shake it off?
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Anita is Happily Married with a man she loves and a devoted pet, while Cruella is widowed, bankrupt and miserable, so Cruella decides to get revenge on both of them by turning Perdita's puppies into a fur coat.
  • For Want of a Nail: Discussed; the ghostwriter of Cruella's memoir urges readers to wonder if things could have ended differently for Cruella if certain events had gone differently, like if Anita had agreed to Cruella's offer to travel with her, or if Jack hadn't let her sign away her inheritance.
  • Gold Digger: Cruella's mother, who tried to marry her off to steal her inheritance, and the various suitors she tried to set her daughter up with, who went running for the hills once Cruella told them she had to keep her last name or give up her inheritance.
  • Sanity Slippage: Cruella's ""Well Done, Daughter!" Girl" mindset exceeds to the point where she is willing to slaughter puppies to turn into fashion because she thinks it will make her mother proud. Spoiler alert: It doesn't. Lady De Vil just thinks she's nuts.

     Cold Hearted: A Tale of the Wicked Stepmother 

  • Abusive Parents: Surprisingly, Cinderella's father, Sir Richard, to both his own daughter and his new wife's children, just in different ways.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Even from what little we saw and heard of Cinderella's father, it was always heavily implied that he was a kind man and devoted father who did no wrong. In Cold Hearted, her father, Sir Richard, is actually an abusive husband, a Gold Digger, and, ironically, a Wicked Stepfather.
  • Cinderella Plot: Ironically enough, in this adaptation, this happened to Cinderella's stepsisters before it happened to Cinderella herself. Cinderella's father, Sir Richard, made Anastasia and Drizella help their mother with the chores and kept them away from court, all while spoiling his own child and declaring that she was better than his stepchildren.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Sir Richard treated his second wife and two stepdaughters the same way they would one day treat Cinderella. He forced them into virtual servitude, showed favor to his own daughter over his stepdaughters, kept Anastasia and Drizella away from court because they were "not presentable enough", and even locked Lady Tremaine in her room when she tried to escape, which was exactly what she did to Cinderella when she tried to get away from her abusive family through the glass slipper test.
  • Domestic Abuse: Sir Richard tricked Lady Tremaine into marrying him so he could inherit her first husband's money through marriage, since all a woman's assets went to her husband once they were wed. Once they were married, he forced her to do all the chores, constantly compared her to his first wife, and denied her freedom of any kind, even the freedom to decorate the house and hire new staff to help her burden. When she tries to leave, Richard refuses to let her go and locks her in her room.
  • Hourglass Plot: If this backstory is added to the canon movie, the whole story of Cinderella becomes this. Lady Tremaine and her daughters were first abused by Cinderella's father, who forced them to do the household chores, all while spoiling his own daughter and constantly comparing his stepdaughters to her, declaring her to be better than them. He even locks Lady Tremaine in her room when she tries to leave her toxic situation. Of course, we all know what she and her daughters do to Cinderella in the future.
  • Ironic Hell: Lady Tremaine and her daughters were forced into servitude by Sir Richard, who spoiled his own daughter and gave her advantages he denied his stepdaughters. After Cinderella ruins her stepmother's chances of getting away, Lady Tremaine punishes her after her father's death by forcing her to be a servant and making her The Unfavorite below her stepsisters like Richard had done with Lady Tremaine and her daughters.
  • The Lost Lenore: A ugly side of this trope is seen in the story. Sir Richard, despite remarrying, acts like his first wife is still alive and devotes all his love to her, keeping all her things and portraits around, while treating his second wife like a servant who's only there to care for his child.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Cinderella's father is named Richard and the King is named Hubert
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Cinderella told her father that his new wife was planning to leave him, not recognizing that he was an abusive husband and stepfather and her stepmother simply wanted out of the abusive situation with him. This act of unwitting betrayal ruins Lady Tremaine's best chance to leave and ignites her hatred for Cinderella, and her abuse of her stepdaughter is revealed to be revenge for telling her secret and for how her father treated Lady Tremaine and her daughters when he was alive.
  • The Unfavorite: Sir Richard obviously prefers Cinderella to her stepsisters. He lets her continue her lessons and plans to present her at court, while Anastasia and Drizella must do chores instead of learn, and aren't allowed to be presented because Richard thinks they're too ugly.
  • Wicked Stepfather: Believe it or not, Cinderella's father.