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Literature / Disney Chills

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The dreams that you FEAR will come true.

Disney Chills is a middle-grade Disney-themed horror series in the vein of Goosebumps, written by Jennifer Brody under the pen name Vera Strange.

Each book in the series focuses on a child making an unfortunate deal with a Disney Villain, such as Ursula, Dr. Facilier, or Captain Hook, and the terrible price they pay for having their wishes granted. The books also feature moral lessons on popularity, growing up, and other social issues kids face.

The novels currently include the following:

  1. Part of Your Nightmare, featuring Ursula (2020)
  2. Fiends on the Other Side, featuring Dr. Facilier (2020)
  3. Second Star to the Fright, featuring Captain Hook (2021)
  4. Be Careful What You Wish Fur, featuring Cruella de Vil (2021)
  5. Liar, Liar, Head on Fire, featuring Hades (2021)
  6. Once Upon a Scream, featuring Maleficent (2022)
  7. The Circle of Ter-ROAR, featuring Scar (2023)

This series contains examples of:

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    As a series 
  • Artifact of Doom: Many of the books revolve around the protagonist finding or taking powerful, malignant objects that belong to a Disney villain, such as Ursula's shell necklace, Captain Hook's hook, or Cruella's fur coat. In Scar's case, he initially is the artifact as it's a pelt made from his fur, but he also wants a magic staff.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: A majority of the books have the Disney villains win, with Second Star to the Fright as the only exception thus far (to an extent).
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The major theme of the series, as the heroes' wishes for popularity, beauty, and social cred always come with a price.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': More often than not, the kids are usually decent people who give into very human flaws like wanting to not get older or have a few minutes away from their siblings' spotlight. The problem is that when they give into temptation, Disney villains are waiting to take advantage of their Moment of Weakness. Hook was the exception in that Barrie stole the hook from him, but later returned it and apologized and Hook still kidnapped him.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Every single book ends with one, ranging from Fates Worse Than Death to impending doom, with the kindest one being a Year Outside, Hour Inside situation:
    • The climax of Part of Your Nightmare has Shelly retrieve the trident for Ursula as part of their deal, only for Ursula to turn her into a fish completely since she only assumed she'd turn her back into a human when all the contract said was that Shelly owed Ursula a favor in exchange for becoming the fastest swimmer.
    • The climax of Fiends on the Other Side has Jamal give Dr. Facilier the necklace in the hopes of releasing his brother from the curse, but the shadow man turns him into a shadow instead, gloating that he only heard what he wanted to hear in terms of their deal.
    • Second Star to the Fright ends on a massive Hope Spot where Barrie tosses the hook to the crocodile, ensuring that the pirate captain will be doomed to old age, and he actually makes it back to the marina and makes his way home. Then he gets home, sees a strange woman opening the door, and learns that the Darlings moved out decades ago, with his older sister married with kids and his parents in a retirement community.
    • Be Careful What You Wish Fur ends with Delia attempting to trade the coat back in exchange for the kidnapped puppies, but it's too late to take it off and she changes completely into a mannequin.
    • Liar, Liar, Head on Fire ends on another huge Hope Spot when Hector gives the Zeus Cup to Mae so she can run away with it and save the world. But then, Mae gives the Cup to Hades and reveals she made her own deal with him to become a rock star, and Hector is killed and his soul becomes trapped in the River Styx.
    • Once Upon A Scream has a Hope Spot where Dawn defeats Maleficent with the Sword of Truth and saves Phillipa and the town, but Maleficent faked her defeat and poses as Phillipa to get the spinning wheel back, then enchants Dawn to sleep forever where no one will ever find her.
    • The Circle of Ter-ROAR has Silas give Scar the staff in exchange for his family and friends' safety, only for Scar to point out that while he agreed not to hurt them, the hyenas aren't bound to it and close the book preparing to eat Silas.
  • Deal with the Devil: The other major theme of the series is that making deals with Disney villains is a very bad thing and can only end in pain.
  • Defanged Horrors: The endings may be bleak, but those and other scares are still age-appropriate for children.
  • Downer Ending: Like the Goosebumps books, these sorts of endings are common.
    • Part of Your Nightmare ends with Ursula victorious, Shelly fully transformed into a fish, her parents grieving and Enrique having lost his memories of what happened, and it's implied Shelly will be given to her fish-killing little brother as a pet.
    • Fiends on the Other Side ends with Dr. Facilier as Mayor of New Orleans, Jamal and Malik's parents not remembering they had kids at all, and Jamal and Malik stuck as shadows that will slowly disappear from existence. Riley in the meantime suffers an Uncertain Doom for her attempts to rescue them.
    • Be Careful What You Wish Fur ends with Delia turned into a mannequin wearing her Cruella Coat and locked away in a display case for the House of De Vil flagship store for all eternity.
    • Liar, Liar, Head on Fire ends with Hector’s soul becoming trapped in the River Styx right before Hades leaves to release the Titans and take over the world.
    • Once Upon A Scream ends with Maleficent regaining the spinning wheel and dooming Dawn to eternal sleep, sealed away where no one will find her.
    • The Circle of Ter-ROAR ends with it being uncertain whether Archie will get away with his crimes or not, and Scar sending the hyenas to eat Silas and presumably everyone else, using the staff to become king of all the lands.
  • Exact Words: Employed in the Cruel Twist Ending just to rub salt in the wounds.
    • In Part of Your Nightmare Ursula assures that Shelly will be the fastest swimmer in Triton Bay, as she had promised… she just never said she’d be human.
    • In The Circle of Ter-ROAR Scar reminds Silas that he promised he wouldn’t harm anyone…. But he never made the same promise for the hyenas.
  • Invisible to Normals: A recurring theme throughout the books is the Disney villains tormenting the heroes with things only they can sense, such as Ursula tormenting Shelly with the smell of seawater and octopus ink, Dr. Facilier stalking Jamal using his Shadows, Captain Hook haunting Barrie with the increasingly loud thumping of his boots and sword strikes, and Hades making Hector smell smoke and see fire.
  • Mr. Exposition:
    • About two-thirds of the way through Part of Your Nightmare, Enrique reveals local legends about Ursula and the trident, showing Shelly once and for all that helping her is dangerous.
    • Riley and her grandmother tell Jamal about their powers and history with Dr. Facilier, as well as the story behind the necklace he wants.
    • An anonymous user of PicPerfect called FashionAddict tells Delia that their friend got a Cruella Coat long ago, and it had the same horrifying, stiffening effects on her as it did on Delia before the friend vanished without a trace.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Minor characters tend to be named after characters from the films the books are based on.
    • Attina and Alana from Part of Your Nightmare are named after two of Ariel's sisters.
    • John and Michael from Second Star to the Fright are named after Wendy's brothers. In addition, Barrie is named after J.M. Barrie, the original author of Peter Pan.
    • Phil from Liar, Liar, Head on Fire is named after Philoctetes, Hercules' trainer.
    • Leah in Once Upon A Scream is named after Aurora's mother, Phillipa, and her dog Samson are named after Prince Phillip and his horse, while Principal Hubert is named after King Hubert.
  • Popular Is Evil:
    • Kendall from Part Of Your Nightmare makes fun of Shelly for her interest in marine biology, and sees anyone interested in science as a “nerd”. She’s also a Hypocrite because she wants to advance to the swimming finals, but only as long as she remains the best swimmer on the team. When Shelly starts outdoing her and helps the team advance to the finals, Kendall starts acting rude to her.
    • Except Malik, all the cool guys in Fiends on the Other Side bully and beat up Jamal.
    • The Girl Posse at Delia’s new private school in Be Careful What You Wish Fur are all shallow, stuck-up, and materialistic. They make fun of Delia's knock-off boots, both in person and in a humiliating online post. They only act friendly towards Delia when she comes to school in a rare designer coat, showing they put more value in material things rather than people.
    • Leah in Once Upon A Scream is also this, digging up dirt on Dawn, then acting all innocent afterward and getting her in trouble.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Each book comes with an aesop and the kids usually do end up learning their lesson (you shouldn't change yourself to be popular, growing up is a normal part of life, try not to be envious of others, etc). None of it matters however because each of them are massively screwed over in the twist ending which renders any moral they learned moot.
    • Everything Shelly learns about friendship and popularity is for nothing when Ursula turns her into a fish for good, leaving everyone else to mourn her loss.
    • Delia finally learns about true friendship and the superficiality of getting liked for your looks and clothes only. Her lessons are null and void, however, as she is turned into a mannequin and doomed to an eternity of being part of the House of De Vil display.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Due to the Disney villains being involved in the stories, several moral lessons boil down to things like 'don't ask a sea witch to become popular because it will ruin your life' or 'don't steal priceless artifacts from a pirate ship tourist attraction in a bid to stay young forever'.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: The main draw of the series is the Disney Villains, as each book stars a different one, and more often than not they end up winning.

    Part Of Your Nightmare 
  • Adaptational Intelligence: While Ursula in The Little Mermaid was clever and reasonably assumed that Ariel couldn't make Eric fall in love with her in three days because love doesn't work like that, she was blindsided when it actually happened. In her agreement with Shelly, Ursula ensures that she has eyes on every loophole and that Shelly can't actually complete any Impossible Task.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Downplayed with Ursula; the sea witch from The Little Mermaid was concerned more about her deals than about the human impact on the ocean, seeing Eric as a pawn and maybe as a paramour since she hypnotized him into loving her briefly. Here, Ursula chides Shelley for littering in the ocean, which shows that the sea witch can care about others. She also doesn't use any hypnosis on humans, instead focusing on her deal and ensuring Shelly has no loopholes out of the agreement. Possibly justified in regards to her concern about human impact on the ocean, considering she lives in it.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kendall and her hangers-on Attina and Alana form the most popular girls at school in Triton Bay, and Shelly goes to great lengths to keep them happy.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Once Enrique starts helping Shelly, Ursula targets him as an incentive to claim the trident.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Ursula reclaims the trident and turns Shelly into a fish.
  • Body Horror: Ursula grants Shelly's wish to be the fastest swimmer by slowly turning her into a fish, with gills, scales, and finger webbing appearing a day at a time.
  • Coming of Age Story: Shelly learns about growing up and the difference between being famous and having true friends.
  • Green Aesop: The beginning includes Shelly's teacher lecturing about the damage humans do to the undersea environment, with special attention paid to plastic bags and straws.
  • How We Got Here: The story opens with Shelly being dragged before Ursula, then flashes back to show how it all happened.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Shelly is desperate to make her friends and parents happy and be popular, so she makes a deal with Ursula to become champion of the swim team in the hopes of granting all her wishes at once.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Out of a desire to keep her popular friends, Shelly pretends not to care about the environment or its sea creatures and deliberately litters when prompted to.
  • Popular Is Dumb: Kendall and her girl posse couldn't care less about fish and the ocean and are dismissive of 'nerds' like Shelly.
  • Rescue Romance: A platonic example. Shelly and Enrique meet when he saves her from drowning, and they slowly become good friends throughout the book.
  • Totally Radical: Kendall and her friends speak in hashtags frequently, such as "Hashtag BFF!" or "Hashtag loser."
  • Villain Has a Point: Ursula rightly chastises Shelly for using the ocean as a dumping ground for trash, and Shelly reflects that she knew throwing a coffee cup in the ocean was bad but did it anyway.

    Fiends On the Other Side 
  • The Ace: Malik is the most popular kid at school, excels at sports and music, and is loved by everyone, especially his teachers and classmates.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Dr. Facilier never directly manipulated children in The Princess and the Frog. His targets were limited to adults who either had money or opportunity. Here, the Legacy Character doctor accosts Jamal, gets curt when the kid says he's late for dinner, and escorts him into his shop.
  • Always Second Best: Jamal feels overshadowed by his twin brother Malik and makes a deal with Dr. Facilier to swap lives with him.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Dr. Facilier reclaims the necklace that warded off his magic and becomes Mayor of New Orleans, putting the city under martial law.
  • Battle in the Rain: at the last legs of the story, Dr. Facilier and his Shadows and Dolls manages to attack our protagonists during the storm. and when Jamal gives the amulet to Facilier and turns into a shadow, the rain and thunder seemed to have worsen as Facilier grew up with power.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For Dr. Facilier, backing off his deals. The more that Jamal refused to take the deal that the Docotr suggested in charge for Jamal's necklace, the more frustrated the doctor became. And in order to get the necklace, Facilier decided to ask his friends on the other side to stalk him out, from using shadows, to summoning voodoo dolls and even hijacking a hurricane using the friends' powers as well.
    • Also for him, fearing his Friends' ire if he can't pay them what they wanted (just like the original doctor as well, since near the end, Jamal decided to break the necklace, making sure that neither he nor the Doctor could use it at all, and since the doctor asked his friends to retrieve it for him, breaking could have spelled his doom. To bad that after Facilier told Jamal that he was the only one to reverse the Shadow Curse, Jamal backed away from breaking it to give it to the doctor back.
  • Birds of a Feather: Riley befriends Jamal due to their similarities, as both feel invisible and overlooked by their classmates but have talents of their own.
  • The Bully: Colton and his friends endlessly torment Jamal.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Jamal is bitterly jealous of Malik, his accomplishments, and his popularity, so much so that it drives him to his Deal with the Devil.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Jamal is envious of his brother Malik’s status as The Ace, making him the School Idol among their classmates and earning the attention and praise from their parents and teachers. Jamal desperately wants to be the star for once, and that’s why he makes a deal with Dr. Faciler to step out of his brother’s shadow.
  • Legacy Character: The Dr. Facilier seen in the story isn't technically the one from The Princess and the Frog, as he was originally a good magic practitioner who fell to the dark side, naming and styling himself after the Dr. Facilier of legend. It makes sense since Dr. Facilier originally lived during the 1920s.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Dr. Facilier's Voodoo Emporium appears out of nowhere just when Jamal is passing by, setting the events of the story in motion.
  • Living Shadow: Dr. Facilier's shadows are this by default, and once Jamal agrees to swap lives with Malik, his brother becomes a fading shadow, unable to be seen by most. The story ends with both brothers becoming shadows that will eventually fade.
  • Only Sane Woman: Riley. Malik is oblivious to Jamal's feelings of inadequacy while protecting him, and Jamal lets his jealousy override his decisions. She doesn't have Ripple-Proof Memory but notices that her best friend is acting "weird" and goes to investigate. Riley also has a sensible explanation of how to change Malik back; ask her grandmother for help.
  • Ret-Gone: Once Jamal swaps lives with Malik, his brother is erased from history, with his parents seeing Jamal as an only child and not recognizing Malik's name at all. Both brothers are doomed and forgotten in the ending.
  • Sadistic Choice: If Jamal gives up the necklace in exchange for Malik being brought back to normal, it means surrendering New Orleans to Dr. Facilier. Refusing to do so means condemning his brother to an early death. Jamal ends up making the wrong choice by giving up the necklace. Dr. Facilier reveals he was never going to change Malik back.
  • A Storm Is Coming: During the course of the story, we heard signs that the Hurricane Donald was coming straight to New Orleans, at first starting at category 2 and then it's scaled to a category 5. Shadow Malik suspects that Dr. Facilier's Friends on the Other Side had something to do with making the hurricane stronger.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lampshaded by Malik and Riley when they find out that Jamal made a deal with Dr. Facilier. They both point out that their grandparents warned the kids about the "shadow man". Jamal doesn't die, but it's hinted he and Malik will fade out of existence.
  • Urban Legends: Dr. Facilier seemed to be treated as that by the inhabitants of New Orleans, and according to them, making a deal with him really doesn't end well for you.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The ending leaves it unclear what happened to Riley, who is last seen being pinned to the ground by Dr. Facilier's living voodoo dolls.
  • Weakened by the Light: The Shadows that Dr. Facilier summons to catch the necklace from Jamal's hand can vanish from the intense light the necklace can cast as a defense mechanism, or by direct sunlight after trying to follow Jamal outdoors.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The story ends with Jamal and Malik turned into shadows that will eventually fade into nothing.

    Second Star To the Fright 
  • 20 Minutes in the Future: After Barrie manages to outsmart Hook and escape from Neverland back to his home, he soon finds that a lot of time has passed after being kidnapped by Hook and trying to battle him. While it's unknown how much the town has advanced technology-wise, his family has grown up, with his parents now being senior citizens, and his sister and friends being middle aged adults.
  • An Aesop: Second Star To The Fright spends the first few chapters emphasizing that Growing Up Sucks: you have to get a job when you grow up in an uncertain world, gain wrinkles and grey hair, and take responsibility for your possessions. The rest of the book then emphasizes that growing up isn't fun but it's a part of life, and missing out on it means that your friends and family move on without you. Barrie learns this the hard way as he stops getting older, and everyone starts forgetting who he is.
  • Anti-Hero: The story mentions that Peter Pan is this, if not by name. (This is in line with the 1953 Disney film, where Peter was an "insolent brat" to Hook.) Hook tells Barrie that the boy cut off his hand For the Lulz and then fed it to the crocodile, who keeps following and wanting the rest of the captain. Then when Hook received the hook that would give him immortality and eternal youth, Peter decided pragmatically to try and steal that as well.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The story ends with Barrie returning the hook, escaping Never Land, and regaining everyone's memory of him, but while he was gone his parents have become old and his sister and friends middle-aged, and it isn't clear if he's still stuck as a kid forever.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Realizing that he isn't getting anywhere by reasoning with Captain Hook, Barrie is forced to take the hook again to distract him while trapped on the pirate ship. Then he tosses it into the water, where the crocodile is waiting, so he has a chance to swim back home.
  • Genre Savvy: John and Michael aren't the John and Michael from Peter Pan, but they are familiar with ghost stories. Theorizing that Hook is alive but acting like a Vengeful Ghost, they suggest that the only thing Barrie can do is return the hook to him and pray for mercy, as well as for his life back. They also consider the possibility that it won't work, since ghosts aren't logical.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The story goes with the original 1953 Disney film's interpretation of Peter Pan as an "insolent brat" in Hook's words. Hook says that Peter cut off his hand as a "childish prank" with no regard for the consequences of feeding it to the crocodile. After the pirate captain gained the prosthetic that granted him immortality and eternal youth, Peter started gunning for that instead. That's when Hook left Neverland.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: As Hook explains, Peter cut off his hand as part of a "childish prank" and tossed it to the crocodile. From what we hear, Peter is still not that sorry about it.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Barrie is reluctant to grow up after seeing how stressed and bored his parents and sister are, and steals Captain Hook's hook due to a legend that whoever holds it will never grow old.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Captain Hook is much more frightening in Second Star to the Fright than he is in the 1953 film, but he is still terrified of the crocodile.
  • Narnia Time: The last chapter has Barrie finding out he didn't go missing for a few hours, but a few decades. According to the family that lives where the Darlings did, they were worried sick and everyone theorized he must have drowned in the marina. This is technically true since Barrie had to jump into the ocean to escape Hook.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Barrie returns the pirate captain's hook, apologizing and begging for him to undo the curse. Hook doesn't care; he wants to not only take Barrie to Never Land but also use him to get revenge on the first Lost Boy, Peter Pan.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Even though he's fighting for his life and trying to keep out of the man's reach in the climax, Barrie feels sorry for Hook. He can understand the haunted look in the captain's eyes, and the desire to never age.
  • Uncertain Doom: Second Star to the Fright ends more ambiguously than the other books, as it isn't clear if Barrie is still cursed to never age or not. More importantly, he's left on the streets at night, unsure if he should go into Michael's house to reveal himself.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: If Barrie's sister Rita had kept her mouth shut about how she hates being a teen and is in a hurry to grow up, it's likely Barrie wouldn't have been so reckless.
  • What Were You Thinking?: John and Michael ask Barrie this when he confesses that he stole the pirate captain's hook. They say stealing from a guy like that, even if he's supposedly dead, is asking for trouble.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Barrie and Hook.
    • Barrie deals with the upsides and considerable downsides of not growing up, with the added bonus of everyone slowly forgetting about him. By the end of the book he's still the same age, but his parents are elderly and his sister and friends are middle-aged with kids.
    • Hook treats his immortality as a crutch; he refuses to give it up, even though it means he and Peter are locked in an eternal battle of wits and valor, and that the human world has moved on without him and turned his ship into a marina museum. Barrie notes that the man doesn't seem to be happy, as shown by his reaction when Barrie returns the hook and apologizes. Hook takes the opportunity to knock out Barrie and tie him up, saying they can return to Neverland and end the battle with Peter Pan once and for all, with both getting immortality.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Even after all these years, Hook is still terrified of the crocodile and its clock, which Barrie uses to his advantage to escape.

    Be Careful What You Wish Fur 
  • Alpha Bitch: Harper, Charlotte, and Ella are three popular girls who post on the latest brands and look down on Delia's fashion choices.
  • And I Must Scream: Delia is transformed into a mannequin, unable to move or speak but fully conscious. It's stated this happened to other girls as well.
  • Body Horror: Delia slowly turns into a mannequin, which also happened to other fashionable girls.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Cruella's fur coat clings to Delia the more she wears it and is eventually impossible to take off.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Delia becomes prettier, more confident, and more popular when wearing Cruella's fur coat.
  • Ghastly Ghost: Rather than appearing in person like her 101 Dalmatian Street counterpart, this Cruella appears as a phantom when coming to get her fur coat back from Delia's hands. Justified since Cruella herself is from the 1970s, and by the time of the events of the book she would have died a long time ago.
  • Girl Posse: Harper, Ella, and Charlotte are all on equal popularity grounds.
  • Glamour: Cruella's coat essentially adds a filter to Delia's appearance, erasing the flaws and making her look supernaturally gorgeous.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Delia is desperate to fit in and make friends at her new private school, but every girl there is super rich and wears the latest designer clothes, while Delia is a scholarship kid with a Struggling Single Mother who can only afford vintage and cheap knock-offs. Her desperation is what drives her to take the Cruella Coat from the deserted backlot.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Realizing that she's dead anyway, Delia orders Grant to leave her and take the puppies while she's turning into a mannequin before Cruella can murder him and the dogs as well. He reluctantly agrees after realizing that there isn't a choice but promises to come back for her. Sadly, he never gets the chance.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Delia is phone and selfie-obsessed, particularly with the PicPerfect app that acts as an Instagram stand-in.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It’s unclear what happens to Grant and the puppies, who are last seen barely escaping Cruella and promising to help Delia. Delia's other friends, Aaliyah and Zoe, are also unheard from.

    Liar, Liar, Head on Fire 
  • Adaptational Villainy: For all of Hades' ambition in the original film, he was honorable about his deals. He keeps all of the bargains that he makes, including with Hercules himself and Meg when she tries to resign herself to eternal servitude in exchange for saving "Wonder Boy". Hades reveals here that he's a Manipulative Bastard that will lie to children to get what he wants.
  • And I Must Scream: In the end, Hector tries to scream twice, first when his body shrivels up into a wrinkled, ancient state, and again when he's killed and his soul becomes trapped in the River Styx with all the other souls. He is so weak, however, that when he tries, all that comes out are soft whispers and gasps.
  • Ascended Extra: Charon, the skeleton rowing Hades' boat, didn't have any dialogue and only seconds of screentime in Hercules but has several pages of dialogue when Hector meets him, establishing that he was a mortal before Hades forced him into eternal servitude. Charon feels that's the best outcome of a deal with Hades.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Hades gets his hands on the Zeus Cup and is able to escape from the Underworld in time for the planetary alignment so he can release the Titans and destroy Zeus and the world.
  • Big Brother Bully: Hector's brothers engage in good-natured teasing of their youngest sibling, and Hades complains that Zeus is this for imprisoning him in the Underworld.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Hector remembers that the gods of Greek mythology tended to have volatile family relationships, and Hades brushes off the family drama with Zeus by claiming it's God stuff that mortals can't comprehend.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: When Hector cheats to win the Zeus Cup, he feels terrible about being a fraud and can't enjoy his newfound fame as a result.
  • Corrupted Character Copy: Mae is a stand-in for Meg as the hero's Love Interest from Hercules. Meg always knew that Hades was bad news and only served him because she had sold her soul to him to save her ex's life. Mae apparently believed it was worth causing the apocalypse to become a rock star.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Zeus Cup turns out to be the literal key to the Underworld, and Hades hopes to use it to break free.
  • Foreshadowing: Pain, Panic, and Hades tempt Hector into taking their deal by threatening to offer it to Mae instead. By the end of the story, even though Hector accepted, they made a separate deal with Mae to get what they wanted.
  • Friendless Background: Hector was homeschooled and only had his brothers for company, so he grew up friendless.
  • Honey Trap: Mae becomes closer to Hector and helps him against Hades, only to betray him and ensure Hades gets the cup.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Mae is a dirty cheater who is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Further into the book, Hector starts to bond with her when she admits that she is pressured to win at all costs by her dad, and even teams up with him to protect the Zeus Cup and save the world from Hades... until she betrays him in the end, having made her own Deal with the Devil to become a rock star and gives the Cup to Hades so he can escape, not caring what happens to the rest of the world as long as she comes out on top.
  • Karma Houdini: Mae gets away scot-free after betraying Hector and plans to become a rock star. Granted, the apocalypse will happen soon so she's unlikely to enjoy it for long.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Unlike his parents and the rest of his family, Hector would rather take photographs than be an athlete. Mae feels the same way about music.
  • Mythology Gag: Hades mentions that Zeus isn't the only one who can do that statue thing, referencing Hercules when Zeus manifests in the form of a statue.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Pain and Panic accidentally revealing the Underworld's location and how to get there turns out to all be part of the plan, as it lets Hector and Mae bring the Zeus Cup to Hades.
  • Red Baron: While the Titans have names in supplementary media, they're referred to with descriptive titles here, such as The Mountain King for Lythos the Earth Titan.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The second half of Liar, Liar, Head on Fire takes on new meaning after the ending reveals Mae was using Hector, particularly how no one except Hector and Mae can sense Hades' presence.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Hector's older brother, Phil, came in second to win the cup and has nightmares about it; this is part of why he pushes Hector to be the best.
  • Sports Dad: Hector's whole family pressures him to win the Zeus Cup, which doesn't make training any easier. Mae's dad is even worse about it, as he's upset when she wins a race since she didn't beat her previous time.
  • Super-Strength: Hector makes a deal with Hades to gain godlike strength and speed so he can win the Zeus Cup at the Mt. Olympus Spartan Race.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Hades brushes off the family drama with Zeus by claiming it's God stuff that mortals can't comprehend. Mae uses this as justification for not caring what Hades' plans are.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Even though he grew up hearing Greek Myths and knowing that Hades is bad news, Hector still agrees to help him escape the Underworld, easily buying his lie about just wanting freedom instead of world domination—and then he tries to renege on the deal once Hades helps him win the Cup. Mae goes so far as to knowingly help Hades destroy the world just so she can become a rock star.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The whole world is this, as Hades declares to a spirit Hector that he’s off to release the Titans, overthrow Zeus, and destroy the world right as the story ends.

    Once Upon A Scream 
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Leah and her posse act nice, but are ruthless and mean behind the scenes as they dig up dirt on Dawn and act innocent afterward.
  • Blood Magic: Dawn accidentally summons Maleficent when she pricks her finger on her spinning wheel, which requires blood.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Maleficent eventually puppeteers anyone caught in her sleeping spell to go after Dawn and regain the spinning wheel.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Samson detects evil in the ravens and feral pigs, as well as brainwashed citizens and Maleficent posing as Phillipa.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Maleficent considers eternal sleep to be worse than her original death curse, and inflicts it on Dawn at the end.
  • Forced Sleep: Maleficent's spell makes everyone who was at the party fall into increasingly deep periods of sleep; the curse eventually spreads to the whole town.
  • From New York to Nowhere: Dawn unwillingly moves from the big city to her two aunts' house in Castletown, a fictional town in the Deep South that Dawn thinks has too many bugs and roses.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Dawn's parents definitively ship her off to her aunts and shut down her protests by calling her by her full name, Dawn Rosa Flores.
  • Plot Allergy: Dawn is allergic to roses, making living at Castletown even more difficult than it should be.
  • RevengeSVP: Dawn asks Maleficent to help her get revenge against the girls who didn't invite her to the party, and then bullied her. Maleficent says she knows how it feels to be uninvited.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Dawn's two friends, Ronnie and Daniella, influence her to behave badly and act as an accessory to their shoplifting.
  • The Tragic Rose: Early on, Aunt Merry discusses the beauty and duplicity of roses, as they lure you in with lovely scents and then prick you.
  • True Love's Kiss: When Dawn goes to rescue Phillipa, she realizes that while a friend's kiss won't work, her dog's kiss does the trick.

    The Circle of Ter-ROAR 
  • Demonic Possession: It's implied, though never confirmed, that Scar's jealousy took hold of Archie.
  • Doorstopper: It's the longest book in the series by far at 364 pages, over a hundred more than Once Upon a Scream, which had 256.
  • Eaten Alive: This is about to happen to Silas at the end of the book.
  • Exact Words: Scar gives his word that he won't harm Silas, his friends, or his family, but the hyenas are under no such restriction and end the book about to devour Silas.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Scar was jealous of his brother Mufasa as in canon, and Archie was likewise jealous of Scarlett giving the camp to her family instead of him.
  • I Have Your Wife: Scar kidnaps George to force Silas to give him the staff.
  • Infant Sibling Jealousy: Silas resents his baby brother George for taking time and attention away from him, which isn't helped by George's constant crying.
  • Injured Limb Episode: Silas's father is injured saving his son from a broken rope bridge, breaking his leg in two places and putting him on crutches.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Archie arranged an "accident" for Scarlett at their favored hiking spot, told Silas a scary story to make him explore the camp, then plotted for someone to get hurt at the rope bridge by sawing the supports off, all while acting kind and cheerful.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In-universe, Silas is puzzled why African hyenas and lions would be in Arizona, where they don't normally live.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Towards the climax of the book, Silas defeats both Scar and the hyenas with the staff and thinks about how he's become truly courageous, only for Scar to kidnap George and immediately turn things around.
  • Nervous Wreck: Silas is scared of everything from doors slamming to unexpected loud coughing, and especially fears spiders and cemeteries.
  • Precision F-Strike: In a first for the entire series, Archie swears as he curses "that damn fool bird" for interfering in his plans to control the camp.
  • Prophecy Twist: Silas and his friends think Zazu's warning about the arch means to beware an arch near an exhibit, but he actually means to beware Archie the groundskeeper.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Scar's pelt is found by Silas in a chest and is initially unresponsive until Silas uses the staff to free him.
  • Summer Campy: Camp Pride Rock isn't in the best shape when Silas and his family arrive, and after he frees Scar, camp life improves at the cost of increasing paranoia.
  • Talking Animal: Scar, the hyenas, and Rafiki are capable of speaking to humans in this story.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Silas sends his friends away to deal with Archie at the end of the book, wanting to face Scar alone.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Silas and his family inherit Camp Pride Rock from his deceased Aunt Scarlett.
  • Unfinished Business: Scarlett's ghost haunts a photograph of her and her corpse begs Silas to find out who killed her.