Book Reviews

10 Magical Disney books that you must read

Disney make amazing movies but they also have a few books under the belt, and have turned our classic favourite books into magical movies too. Here are 10 Disney books you must read.

The Inspiration Behind our Favourite Disney Films

Peter Pan

Peter Pan is one of my favourite Disney movies. I have a tradition of watching it before my birthday every year and lament that I’m actually growing up.

The original book is also a favourite of mine. Disney changed quite a lot about the book, which is to be expected. Peter Pan is the only book I’ve read where the protagonists are children and feel like kids. Many authors can’t pull of writing characters younger than them, but J.M Barrie did and that’s what makes Peter Pan so magical.

You might also enjoy Finding Neverland (not that Finding Neverland) which is a film starring Johnny Depp about J.M Barrie’s inspiration behind Peter Pan.

peter pan by j.m barrie

Treasure Island

Treasure Planet is one of Disney’s underrated movies. There are so many adaptions of Treasure Island that Disney’s space-pirate take on the film is a breath of fresh air.

Like Peter Pan, of course the book is different but the change is welcome given that Captain Amelia was based on Captain Alexander Smollett in the books, so we could have at least one strong female character for the little girls watching. I also still don’t know how the movie wasn’t bigger for Morph and Morph alone, he could rival baby Yoda and Baby Groot.

treasure island by robert louis stevenson

Alice’s Advenures in Wonderland

The Alice in Wonderland books are just as wonderfully weird as you’d expect, and the rumours that Lewis Carrol was on drugs while writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass don’t feel entirely unfounded.

Out of all of them, I feel this is the one most true to the original film, which is actually still a bit creepy. I don’t think this felt as blissful and innocent as Peter Pan, but still worth reading.

alices adventures in wonderland alice in wonderland by lewis carroll

Books Inspired By Disney Movies

The Surface Breaks

The Surface Breaks is actually an anomaly on this list, because it was inspired by the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson and not so much the Disney film. However I haven’t read the original Little Mermaid, and the Surface Breaks is a feminst retelling of the tale so I felt it was worth mentioning.

The Surface Breaks is about the youngest daughters of the Sea King, Gaia (also known as Murigeann AND Grace) as she escapes Sea Kingdom for love and to save herself from the man her father has her betrothed to. She finds out that the human world isn’t much better.

the surface breaks feminist retelling of the little mermaid by louise o'neill

Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel

The Hocus Pocus book does have a stupid name, I will admit that. However, it’s not a bad story. The sequel by A. W. Jantha is set 25 years later (on the real 25th anniversary) about Max and Alison’s daughter who doesn’t beleive the story of how they met. Poppy sneaks out of the Halloween party he parents threw to keep the kids of Salem out of trouble and accidently brings the Sanderson sisters back for one more night of havoc.

It has it’s cheesy moments, but if you like Disney and YA then you’ll love this. Disney also seems more confident putting LGBTQ+ characters into technically non-canon books than the films, so I guess that’s better than nothing, but one day I hope they step up.

hocus pocus and the all new sequel by a.w. jantha

Fairest of All

Fairest of All is about the Evil Queen from Snow White before she became the mother of the Evil Stepmother trope. This book is part of the Disney Villians series by Serena Valentino, who wrote the remainder of the books in this section, which are all connected.

The Queen was the daughter of a mirror maker who resented her as her mother died in childbirth, who becomes the King’s second wife after Snow White’s mother dies. In the first few years, the Queen is kind, but insecure, and raises Snow White like her own, but when the King returns from battle less than he was before he left, and eventually doesn’t return at all, she loses herself too.

The king’s relatives, the odd sisters corrupt the Queen and we see the events of the movie play out.

fairest of them all disney villians disney books by serena valentino

Poor Unfortunate Soul

Poor Unfortunate Soul is about how Ursula came to be the Sea Witch, and her side of the Little Mermaid film, where she tries to harness all the power of the ocean to remove Triton from the throne. Ursula and Triton share the power of the sea between them; his in his trident and hers in her conch necklace as their parents intended on them ruling together. However Triton casts his sister aside, and she decides to seek revenge and become the most powerful witch in the world.

poor unfortunate soul disney villian disney books by serena valentino

The Beast Within

The Beast Within a more in-depth tale of how Prince Adam became the Beast, and why the curse was put on him in the first place. Like Poor Unfortunate Souls we get a little prequel and then hear the alternative side to the story from the movie.

I was wondering why the Beast was in this series because he’s not a villian. He might not have started out a nice character, but he redeems himself; Gaston is the real villain of the story. However, as these books are all part of the same overarching tale, you’re just going to have to trust me when I saw the Beast’s contribution was needed.

the best within disney villian disney books by serena valentino

Mother Knows Best

Mother knows best is about none other than Mother Gothel from Rapunzel. I was excited about this one because I firmly believe that Mother Gothel is the best Disney Villian we’ve had in a long time. Her backstory is just unexpected but fitting and tells of the life that Mother Gothel almost had and what drove her to kidnap Rapunzel, and how her own mother also knew best. The tale also alters how you interpret Tangled. Out of all the Disney villain’s books, Mother Knows Best is the one I couldn’t put down.

mother knows best disney villian disney books by serena valentino

The Disney book I want to get my hands on:

The Price of Freedom

I’ve wanted to read the Price of Freedom by A.C. Crispin for a very very long time now, but I can’t find it anywhere! I remember reading a book version of Dead Man’s Chest as a child because I’ve always adored Pirates of the Caribbean, but the Price of Freedom is a prequel. I can’t say whether or not this is a good Disney book as I haven’t read it, but because it’s been so elusive for so long it’s very hyped up in my mind. There’s some super expensive first editions on Abe books and still expensive used copies. If Disney want’s to sponsor me or gift me a copy that would be great…

The Price of Freedom is about how Jack got into piracy when his days as an honest sailor come to an end us Beckett gives him a job that goes against his morals. Jack has to choose his freedom or doing what’s right.

the price of freedon pirates of the caribbean by a.c. crispin

Have you read any of these Disney books?

22 thoughts on “10 Magical Disney books that you must read

  1. This was such a fun list and would be such a fun reading challenge!!! I’ve only read Alice in Wonderland, but Peter Pan and Treasure Island are my on my list of books to read (and why wasn’t the Treasure Planet movie more popular?? It was soooo good!). I also loved that you included versions inspired by the movies or the original stories. Also, Mother Gothel is an excellent Disney villain, I agree! Super underrated!

    Emily | http://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

  2. Ooooh my goodness, give me a fairy tale book and I am h a p p e e e e!! We just discovered the enormous books filled with the original fairy tales of Cinderella and all. Not the sweet Disney versions but the quite brutal originals. Goodness they’re good! I’ve never seen myself as a mother but I would love to read those fairy tales (not the goriest ones, obvs) to my kids if I ever had any. I should definitely add these Disney books to the collection!

  3. These are great! I remember reading Peter Pan as a kid but I never knew that Hocus Pocus came with a book!! Will have to check some of these out 🙂

  4. Wonderful list, loved seeing your choices! Alice in Wonderland is magical~ I definitely want to read those books about the villains, very curious about those. Thanks for sharing~

  5. Out of all of these, my favourite has to be Alice in Wonderland and I’ve been reading some very dark takes on that story recently which has made me view the original tales in a whole new light! Ditto Peter Pan, but from Captain Hook’s side of things. I love a good back story so I’ll definitely be looking out for Serena Valentino series, thank you for the recommendation! x

    1. I didn’t know there was a Peter Pan spin off! When the whole pandemic is over I could post you the Ursula one

  6. A really interesting list! Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are two of my favourite books! Another Disney Series about the villains are the ‘A Twisted Tale’ series where it tells the story of what happened if the villains won. I read the Little Mermaid one which was quite good but not amazing, but could be fun for you to check out? I really want to read the villains books you’ve mentioned here though! Especially if they’re linked!

    1. I think the Twisted Tale series is actually written by the same author as the villain’s books!

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