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Part of Your World

by Liz Braswell

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317362,675 (3.7)8
What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula? It's been five years since the infamous sea witch defeated the little mermaid... and took King Triton's life in the process. Ariel is now the voiceless queen of Atlantica, while Ursula runs Prince Eric's kingdom on land. But when Ariel discovers that her father might still be alive, she finds herself returning to a world--and a prince--she never imagined she would see again.… (more)
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So there’s this “Twisted Tale” series from Disney books that’s essentially all about screwing the heroines out of their happy ending and making the story “what if” instead. I don’t know why Disney’s trying to do this. To reach a mature audience you have to make everything grimdark and miserable? The first series was villain-focused with works like “The Beast Within” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and then a YA adventure of Disneyland crossed with “they only come out at night”. I hated all of them passionately.

I did not hate this.

In fact, I kind of like it. It’s like a Twilight Zone sequel to “The Little Mermaid” — what if Ariel lost? The writing feels more gothic and less modern, more ornate and unnecessarily lengthy (probably because someone’s trying to make a word count). But the story stays moving.

It lacks the sense of Disney whimsy that makes the first one magical. Sebastian’s now an old fuddy-duddy, not a wise-cracking crab. Scuttle is senile and has a grand-daughter. Ariel is world-weary and jaded by her experience. But maybe that’s plausible, given these characters didn’t get a “Happily Ever After”. It’s made for adults but lacks the Disney joy. Like Disney’s characters continued by Hans Christian Andersen.

A big flaw is that the world-building cribs the Disney movie and the fairy tale. The author picks and chooses from both (like turning into sea foam or immortal souls, but ignoring the “walking on knives” or the prince treats her like a pet), and sometimes that canon comes into conflict. It retcons some plot points and isn’t explicit about where the cut-off for the timeline is.

Basically, the key moment is that Scuttle doesn’t fly by the window where Ursula/Vanessa is singing and see that she’s really the sea witch. However, Ariel still somehow gets to the boat to confront Ursula. But I guess she’s too late? Then there’s a big Ursula vs. Triton battle (not in the book) and she wins, polyp-ifies Triton, and becomes Eric’s wife. But she wipes everyone’s memories so they don’t remember mermaids, and everything’s back to status quo. And now Ursula is starting to invade human lands.

Except…

Ursula never wanted to rule the human world. She wanted to rule the sea. She doesn’t give a flying fish about humans. Why would she? There’s more power in the oceans than one tiny human kingdom. She wants that trident and that crown. Eric is just a big dumb meathead means to an end. Ariel is a pawn for greater rewards (i.e. a contract that ropes Triton into sacrificing his crown for his daughter) and revenge for… something (the movie doesn’t say).

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. She’s a Faustian villain, a vehicle for Ariel to make a deal with the devil to learn the hard lesson that she shouldn’t let her desires lead her into reckless decisions.

But this is Ariel’s story. It’s an adventure and a redemption arc and it paints Ariel with an empowering brush. Ariel has had years to learn the consequences of her actions, to deal with the loss of her father, her role as Princess of the Sea, leaving the one she loved behind. It means Ariel and Eric take time to establish a relationship as they figure out what to do about Ursula. It was a satisfying follow-up to the original movie and I want to read more from the Twisted Tale series.

In reality, if Ariel did lose to Ursula, the sequel should be about her getting a lawyer and learning contract law. ( )
  theWallflower | Sep 18, 2020 |
I was very nervous about starting this book because I've had up and down feelings about the series so far. I actually really enjoyed this book it seems like Braswell took the positive criticism and used it to amp up her stories. I enjoyed the little glimpses at the Disney tale we all know and love but I like that it strays away from the original tale alot more and becomes its own story. I can't wait to see what the upcoming Twisted Tales have in store. ( )
  DJLunchlady91404 | Aug 1, 2019 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a what if twist where Ursula is not defeated and married to Eric. Ariel still does not have her voice and is queen of the sea. Great action throughout the book. I could really see this as a graphic novel more than a movie version. The ending was great, not what I expected at all. I think I'll look into reading more types of these books in the future. ( )
  booklover3258 | Dec 1, 2018 |
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A special thank-you to organizations who help
save creatures under and around the sea, like the
Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
To Elizabeth (the) Schaefer, who started off the series as
one of my editors, and continues on as a good friend.

This book is for everyone who helps protect
Ariel’s ocean—which includes you, whenever you
eat sustainable seafood and skip the straw!

—L.B.
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In the foothills of the Ibrian Mountains…


Cahe Vehswo was in the field repairing a wooden fence
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What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula? It's been five years since the infamous sea witch defeated the little mermaid... and took King Triton's life in the process. Ariel is now the voiceless queen of Atlantica, while Ursula runs Prince Eric's kingdom on land. But when Ariel discovers that her father might still be alive, she finds herself returning to a world--and a prince--she never imagined she would see again.

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