Disney is synonymous with happily ever afters, except when it comes to the Disney Chills series. The middle-grade anthology series offers a dark twist on classic Disney villains who come out victorious to the misfortune of the young protagonists. The first three books featured bone-chilling tales of children who succumb to the villainous acts of Ursula, Dr. Facilier, and Captain Hook, and the fourth book, which was released in April, is a devilishly good time.
Disney Chills: Be Careful What You Wish For
Cruella de Vil is having a moment this year. Between Disney’s Cruella live-action film, Hello, Cruel Heart, and the graphic novel of Sera Valentino’s Evil Thing, it should be no surprise that Cruella was included in the Disney Chills series, but it is also her most sinister interpretation.
The Disney Chills anthology has become my favorite middle-grade series since I was a middle grader voraciously consuming each installment of Goosebumps, Zack Files, and Cracked Classics. As a lover of psychological horror, the collection of stories is precisely my type of cautionary tale. Be Careful What You Wish For is perhaps the most relatable story in a digital age where we’ve been reduced to mannequins clambering for likes online.
Thirteen-year-old Delia has been dealt a bad hand when her mother enrolls her in a fancy prep school, pulling her away from her friends in public school, but things get so much worse when she becomes obsessed with garnering the attention of the popular kids at school. Everyone wants to be the most beautiful, most popular, and best-dressed student at the prep school, all of which is fueled by an Instagram-like app called PicPerfect that demands constant engagement to be viewed as “popular.”
Delia is enthralled by an ad on PicPerfect for a couture brand called House of De Vil, leading her down a disastrous path that puts her right into the reckless path of Cruella De Vil’s antique red automobile.
Vera Strange does a brilliant job interweaving aspects of 101 Dalmatians into her story, just as she has artfully done with the past Disney Chills stories. In the book, Delia and her mother live with the kindly Mrs. Smith who happens to be fostering fifteen dalmatian puppies. It is a delight to see how each new chilling tale borrows from the happily ever afters to deliver a marvelously grim outcome.
Disney Chills: Be Careful What You Wish For is out now.