Heart of the Moors, by Holly Black, a Disney Maleficent novel

Heart of the Moors, by Holly Black (middle grade, October, 2029, Disney), lay far to long in my house unread, through no fault of its own.  I wanted to read it, and was very happy to win it in a giveway a while back, but it just didn't happen until this weekend.  And it made for good weekend reading!

This book takes place in between the two Maleficent movies, and if you haven't seen them, but only the original animated Sleeping Beauty movie, it will be a bit jarring.  Aurora is now queen of both the human and the fey lands of the Moors, determined to stablish peace between the two.  Maleficent is still fiercely protective of her, and Prince Philip is still at court, falling more in love with Aurora every day.  Also at court are power-hungrey, greedy men who want to use Aurora for their own ends, and it's they, not Maleficent, who are the unscrupulous bad guys (although Maleficent' s scruples aren't really the strongest, she's on the good side here).

Aurora is new to all the business of running a kingdom, and her leadership skills lag a bit behind her goodness of heart.  She's also new to falling in love, and is terrified when she realizes that's what's happening to her.  It's the same sort of terror she feels before falling asleep, one of the traumas of the past--true love when horribly wrong for Maleficent.

But Aurora, with help from both humans and the Fair Folk, is able to chart a course to a happier future for both her two kingdoms, and herself.

This is a book for 9-12 year olds, so though there is romance, with a thoughtful questioning of what true love is, and though there is violence, there's nothing I saw that I'd flag as inappropriate for young readers.  What I think this book really is good for is to be a gateway into YA fantasy, which is full to the gills with books about young women (and some young men) become rulers without being ready for the job.  So a great one for tweens!

I enjoyed it but not remarkably so, as my mind has already been trained to a higher level of court intrigue in my fantasy reading.  I did enjoy the tension of Maleficent's character, and appreciated the friendship that's the basis for the romance; for one thing, Philip's aware that he couldn't have given the kiss of true love to Aurora because of not knowing her.

I think fans of the movies will enjoy the book more than me; I haven't seen them.  (I also think that if I hadn't been distracted by my brain pushing forward the moors in the Wayward Children series every time I read "the Moors" the reading experience would have been smoother....probably the same thing would happen to me if I re-read Wuthering Heights, which might actually be  reason to do so--that whole tortured story taking place in McGuire's world would be much more interesting...)

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