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Hello, Cruel Heart

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An electric new story of teenage Cruella de Vil in an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios Live Action Film, Cruella. Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in Lon An electric new story of teenage Cruella de Vil in an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios Live Action Film, Cruella. Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in London as a young girl, Estella now runs wild through the city streets with Jasper and Horace, amateur thieves who double as Estella's makeshift family and partners-in-(petty)-crime. How can Estella dedicate herself to joining the ranks of the London design elite when she's sewing endless costumes and disguises for the trio's heists? When a chance encounter with Magda and Richard Moresby-Plum, two young scions of high society, vaults Estella into the world of the rich and famous, she begins to wonder whether she might be destined for more after all. Suddenly, Estella's days are filled with glamorous parties, exclusive eateries, flirtations with an up-and-coming rock star, and, of course, the most cutting-edge fashions money can buy. But what is the true cost of keeping up with the fast crowd-and is it a price Estella is willing to pay?


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An electric new story of teenage Cruella de Vil in an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios Live Action Film, Cruella. Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in Lon An electric new story of teenage Cruella de Vil in an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios Live Action Film, Cruella. Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in London as a young girl, Estella now runs wild through the city streets with Jasper and Horace, amateur thieves who double as Estella's makeshift family and partners-in-(petty)-crime. How can Estella dedicate herself to joining the ranks of the London design elite when she's sewing endless costumes and disguises for the trio's heists? When a chance encounter with Magda and Richard Moresby-Plum, two young scions of high society, vaults Estella into the world of the rich and famous, she begins to wonder whether she might be destined for more after all. Suddenly, Estella's days are filled with glamorous parties, exclusive eateries, flirtations with an up-and-coming rock star, and, of course, the most cutting-edge fashions money can buy. But what is the true cost of keeping up with the fast crowd-and is it a price Estella is willing to pay?

30 review for Hello, Cruel Heart

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Once upon a time Cruella deVil was not a villanelle! She was just 16 years old orphan girl who tries to survive by stealing things at Swinging London in sixties! And her name is Estella who has been taught the crafts of being a skillful thief by her two accomplices Horace and Jasper who also share their squatters abode with her. She’s truly passionate about fashion and she has real talent and quite exquisite taste about it. When her path crosses with two rich twins Magda and Richard, she’s dire Once upon a time Cruella deVil was not a villanelle! She was just 16 years old orphan girl who tries to survive by stealing things at Swinging London in sixties! And her name is Estella who has been taught the crafts of being a skillful thief by her two accomplices Horace and Jasper who also share their squatters abode with her. She’s truly passionate about fashion and she has real talent and quite exquisite taste about it. When her path crosses with two rich twins Magda and Richard, she’s directly introduced to posh,privileged life style of London socialite. She gets attracted of charming musician Peter who also gets fascinated by her talents about fashion and made his band wear the clothes she’s designed! Everything seems going great with her life and she has hopes about her blooming fashion career, she’s happy to hang out with hipsters, discarding Horace and Jasper from her life but are new friends are right for her? As a fan of Truly Devious series I was truly hopeful about this story and it was great to get an arc copy at the same day the trailer of the movie goes viral ! ( but as far as I see Emma Stone is nothing near to Ms. Johnson’s Estella portrait we can easily sympathize with! ) I enjoyed swinging London premise and I loved to see bright sides of Estella ( we already saw dark side Glen Close showed us on the big screen and we truly enjoyed it) the art, the fashion, entertainment, vivid description of London society were enjoyable and well described! Only thing I didn’t like was haphazard ending with too many unanswered questions which made me think a sequel would come sooner. I hope it comes because I’d enjoy this easy to read and riveting, fast pacing, well developed journey! As a big fan of author’s writing style, I hope we may get more books of the series sooner. I think this is fresh, interesting, unique approach to one of the unconventional Disney villanelles! I’m rounding up 3.5 stars to 4 a delightful back story of one of my favorite villanelles before she meets with 101 Dalmatians stars! Special thanks to NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide/ Disney Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    **3.5-stars rounded up** Hello, Cruel Heart is an origin story, of sorts, for one of my favorite villains ever, Cruella de Vil. The timing for this release is perfect for Cruella fans, as we also have a live-action Cruella film releasing at the end of May, starring Emma Stone. We all know, I just love when a villain gets her time to shine. In this story, set in 1967-London, we follow a 16-year old, Estella, Cruella's true name, as she branches out for the first time and tries to find her place in th **3.5-stars rounded up** Hello, Cruel Heart is an origin story, of sorts, for one of my favorite villains ever, Cruella de Vil. The timing for this release is perfect for Cruella fans, as we also have a live-action Cruella film releasing at the end of May, starring Emma Stone. We all know, I just love when a villain gets her time to shine. In this story, set in 1967-London, we follow a 16-year old, Estella, Cruella's true name, as she branches out for the first time and tries to find her place in the world. Orphaned at a young age, Cruella moved herself, and her sweet dog, Buddy, to London, knowing not a soul in the world. It's on that first day in the city that she meets Jasper and Horace. The three kids immediately bond while fleeing from the local police. They're inseparable from that point forward, doing whatever they must to survive. They become family and rely on one another for everything. In her quieter moments, Estella dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer. She spends a lot of her time sewing and creating. She's really good at it. She has an eye. It is partly due to this special talent that she drifts onto the radar of wealthy twins, Magda and Richard, who sweep her into their world as a sort of pet project. They're posh, sophisticated and live a carefree lifestyle that Estella can't even imagine. She's blinded by the money and social circle, thinking she can use their friendship as a jumping off point for getting her name, and fashion designs, out in the world. Before she knows it, it's all happening. Everything she ever dreamed of. She's dating a rock star, for goodness sake! She's also keeping her alter-ego, Cruella, quietly subdued in the background of her mind. Everything is going great, until it isn't. I had fun with this story. It reads incredibly fast. I read it in about 4-hours. I enjoyed learning about Cruella's early life and gaining some insight into her motivations as a character. I see you, Cruella. I get it. Although the story was quick, it did transport me. I was fully engulfed in the world while I was reading it. With this being said, I did expect a bit more substance. I would have been here for even more detail and background. Especially coming from Maureen Johnson. If you are a Cruella fan, a villain origin story fan, or even just a Disney fan, I would recommend checking this one out. It is definitely a great way to get you in the mood for the upcoming movie. I know I will definitely be watching it. Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it very much!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Okay, yes, I am super excited for the new movie 'Cruella' to come out. So it's really sad for me to say this.. but I was so disappointed and underwhelmed with Hello, Cruel Heart. I think the reason why was because I read two Cruella retelling books around one another. Which I probably should have dove into a completely different book in-between them. Maybe two different books. I just couldn't stop comparing them to one anot I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Okay, yes, I am super excited for the new movie 'Cruella' to come out. So it's really sad for me to say this.. but I was so disappointed and underwhelmed with Hello, Cruel Heart. I think the reason why was because I read two Cruella retelling books around one another. Which I probably should have dove into a completely different book in-between them. Maybe two different books. I just couldn't stop comparing them to one another and it just made my experience with reading this a little less fun. That being said, I liked Estella as a character but other than that.. she was kind of boring in this one. Again, I couldn't stop comparing no matter how hard I tried. It was interesting to see her being an orphan and finding her way through life but it just did nothing for me. I am glad that I got the chance to dive into this but I'm just really disappointed in myself for not enjoying it. Maybe I will dive into this again but at the moment.. I think I need to take a breather from retellings for Disney characters. This is definitely a 'it's not you but me' situation. Sorry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elyse (ElyseReadsandSpeaks)

    This was a fast, enjoyable read. If you're even remotely interested in Cruella, I think you'll at least find the story interesting enough for a quick read. Was this layered with a rich backstory and multi-faceted characters? Nah. In a nutshell, Cruella comes from nothing, creates a found family with Jasper & Horace, sells out to be friends with the rich kids and then that comes back to bite her in the ass. After all, we know she ends up with Jasper & Horace. We've seen 101 Dalmations. No spoilers This was a fast, enjoyable read. If you're even remotely interested in Cruella, I think you'll at least find the story interesting enough for a quick read. Was this layered with a rich backstory and multi-faceted characters? Nah. In a nutshell, Cruella comes from nothing, creates a found family with Jasper & Horace, sells out to be friends with the rich kids and then that comes back to bite her in the ass. After all, we know she ends up with Jasper & Horace. We've seen 101 Dalmations. No spoilers here. Things I liked: - Estella's background as an underground fashion designer. I loved that she was becoming the "it" girl for new and inventive designs. Very easy to believe this same girl would think that skinning puppies would be a great idea. - The beginning part with her mom. What happened?! I need to know more. Who did she run from? Why? Does the movie answer any of these questions?! - The found family with Jasper & Horace. It was kind of endearing to think these two bad guys took Cruella under their wing. Unfortunately, the fast pace left much to be desired because it felt like a surface-level story. I suppose that works for a Disney prequel story for a movie, but I was really hoping for more. We hear in 101 Dalmations how Cruella is an old friend of Anita's and I expected that to make an appearance in this book so I was kind of bummed when it didn't. I also think Cruella was kind of mad/insane and I didn't see a reason or catalyst for that wild behavior in this book. I guess it was supposed to be the Cruella takeover of Estella, but it just wasn't enough for me. This was fine but a little disappointing. I think most people will enjoy it for what it is though - a quick, fun read about a famous Disney villain.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andee

    BLOG|INSTAGRAM|TWITTER|YOUTUBE Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Full review will be posted on my blog on April 5th. To call this a retelling of Cruella is a bit of a stretch if I’m being honest. This is fully a historical fiction novel, with the concept of Cruella as an afterthought. This is very clearly a setup to be directly connected with the new Cruella movie, which is fine. The pacing of the book was strange, and whil BLOG|INSTAGRAM|TWITTER|YOUTUBE Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Full review will be posted on my blog on April 5th. To call this a retelling of Cruella is a bit of a stretch if I’m being honest. This is fully a historical fiction novel, with the concept of Cruella as an afterthought. This is very clearly a setup to be directly connected with the new Cruella movie, which is fine. The pacing of the book was strange, and while I’ve often liked Johnson’s writing for being cut and dry, this missed the mark. None of the characters in this book are particularly likable. I really wanted to like this book. The cover alone was beautiful. However, I kept waiting for the story to reveal itself as the beginning of Cruella’s story. I never got that satisfaction. If this had been marketed as just historical fiction, about a girl who tries to make it in the ranks of the elite while balancing a life of crime- it would have a higher rating from me. Unfortunately, this story allowed itself to pretend to be one thing when it really was something entirely different. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and took away from my enjoyment.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Dang

    The origin story of Cruella deVil except, her name is Estella and she is a thief/designer just trying to make it. The story is set up as a sort of connection to the upcoming live action film ( which surprisingly I just saw the trailer for the other day and it definitely makes sense). Estella is an orphan who makes a living by stealing, one day on one of her fabric stealing runs she runs into two rich teens, Magda and Richard, who take her into their rich lifestyle. Soon she finds herself invited The origin story of Cruella deVil except, her name is Estella and she is a thief/designer just trying to make it. The story is set up as a sort of connection to the upcoming live action film ( which surprisingly I just saw the trailer for the other day and it definitely makes sense). Estella is an orphan who makes a living by stealing, one day on one of her fabric stealing runs she runs into two rich teens, Magda and Richard, who take her into their rich lifestyle. Soon she finds herself invited to parties, meeting a cute musician named Peter, and being recognized for her designing talents. Yet, as with all good things, something is bound to go wrong, and soon she finds that maybe her new friends arent as great and maybe the boy she’s fallen in love with isn’t as honest as she thought. It was definitely an interesting take on the origin story of Cruella, and they have “Cruella” be sort of a another personality/voice in the back of Estella’s head that she has to constantly keep in check from coming out. It was a fun read and I can see how it was inspired by the live action that is going to be coming out. *Thanks Netgalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*

  7. 4 out of 5

    laur gluchie

    I have received a digital Advance Reader’s Copy of this book through NetGalley. This has not affected my rating in any way.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Ashby

    I read 101 Dalmatians at least 20 times growing up so learning that this was an origin story of Cruella had me hooked right away. It wasn't as enthralling as the original Dodie Smith book, but it was a good story nonetheless enlivened by Johnson's always entertaining writing. Watching Estrella scratch out a living and finding hope as she managed to rise above mere survival was great. I kept reminding myself that I shouldn't get too attached to her because I know she's going to be a villain befor I read 101 Dalmatians at least 20 times growing up so learning that this was an origin story of Cruella had me hooked right away. It wasn't as enthralling as the original Dodie Smith book, but it was a good story nonetheless enlivened by Johnson's always entertaining writing. Watching Estrella scratch out a living and finding hope as she managed to rise above mere survival was great. I kept reminding myself that I shouldn't get too attached to her because I know she's going to be a villain before the book is over, but the reminders didn't work. I could easily see the path she was taking and how it was not going to work out in the end and it made me sad to see how she was let down. Although I loved the "Swinging London" setting, I question whether that will draw my students in or put them off the book since the time period is so foreign to them. Other than that, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne (The Bookish Libra)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 3.5 Stars. Have you ever wondered how Cruella de Vil came to be the way she is? Was she always evil or once upon a time, was she just a normal average young girl with dreams of love, success, and happiness? Inspired by the upcoming Disney live action film, Cruella, Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson sets out to explore that exact topic and provide a plausible origin story for this Disney villain extraordinaire. The story is set in London in the late 60’s and follows 16-year-old Cruella, actual 3.5 Stars. Have you ever wondered how Cruella de Vil came to be the way she is? Was she always evil or once upon a time, was she just a normal average young girl with dreams of love, success, and happiness? Inspired by the upcoming Disney live action film, Cruella, Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson sets out to explore that exact topic and provide a plausible origin story for this Disney villain extraordinaire. The story is set in London in the late 60’s and follows 16-year-old Cruella, actually known as Estella here, on her quest to become a famous fashion designer. Orphaned at a young age, Estella has been basically homeless for years, living in an old bombed-out building with two boys, Jasper and Horace, who are in similar dire straits. They teach her how to pick pockets and shoplift, and thus the three of them muddle along, stealing enough to survive and forming a little makeshift family of their own. Estella dreams of bigger things for herself though. She aspires to become a famous fashion designer and often steals fabric and other items so that she can practice her craft. Sadly, much of her time is spent sewing disguises and costumes for their many heists rather than the high fashion clothing she dreams of creating. Johnson does a wonderful job of making young Cruella/Estella very likeable and sympathetic. Who wouldn’t root for an orphan, who also happens to be a gifted fashion designer, to realize her dream? When Estella has a chance encounter with Richard and Magda, two of London’s most fashionable young people, and they invite her to join them, Estella wonders if this is the out from her old life she has been looking for, especially when they take such special interest in her designs. She hopes this friendship is the start of something big and is invited to one party after another and is inspired to create dress after dress for these events that are the envy of everyone she meets. She’s so happy doing what she loves and making friends and even meeting boys that I found myself cheering her on that she really would have a happy ending even though I knew it was impossible. The only area where I struggled a bit to connect with the story was that Cruella was used almost as an alter ego whenever Estella did something bad, like a ‘It wasn’t me, it was Cruella” kind of thing. As Estella got a little older, Cruella then became a mean voice in her head telling her would never have friends or love. This Cruella alter ego didn’t turn up very often in the story, but each time she did, it just read awkwardly for me. There was an instance, for example, where she gets into a fight with Horace and Jasper and when she goes to apologize to them later, they’re all “We know it wasn’t you, it was Cruella.” The ending of the book was also somewhat awkward for me for similar reasons. I just couldn’t exactly tell what Cruella was supposed to be. At first I thought maybe mental illness but, by the end, I had more questions than answers. Hopefully the movie will bring some clarity. Even with my Cruella issues though, I still enjoyed Hello, Cruel Heart overall. It’s a creative villain origin story that definitely made me feel sympathy for one of Disney’s most despicable villains, which is quite a feat in and of itself. Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie

    At first, I was really into this. A Cruella YA novel with her backstory? That sounds awesome, right? Turns out, the trailer for the movie (Walt Disney Studios Live-Action Film, Cruella) that inspired the book is more thrilling in a few minutes than the whole book. I'm sure I'll love the movie, it's like I can already tell I'll love it. The book however was too slow for me. I was hoping for more action or intrigue/drama I guess? I don't know there was just something missing that made it meh instea At first, I was really into this. A Cruella YA novel with her backstory? That sounds awesome, right? Turns out, the trailer for the movie (Walt Disney Studios Live-Action Film, Cruella) that inspired the book is more thrilling in a few minutes than the whole book. I'm sure I'll love the movie, it's like I can already tell I'll love it. The book however was too slow for me. I was hoping for more action or intrigue/drama I guess? I don't know there was just something missing that made it meh instead of amazing like the synopsis made it sound. I got bored and started reading other books when I was in the middle of this one and then finally got back to it. The way it ends means that if there's a next one, that one will be super interesting. Wish we got some of that in this one! Disclaimer: I received this ebook free of charge from NetGalley. It was my choice to read and review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Thank you Netgalley and Disney Publishing for an advanced copy of this book. The trailer for Cruella came out last week, so watching that and reading Hello Cruel Heart really got me even more excited for the movie. During the London summer of 1967, Hello Cruel Heart follows Estella as she goes from stealing wallets of tourists at Harrods to stealing the heart of the rich young bourgeoisie of the city with her natural sense of fashion. It felt strange rooting for someone to succeed that we know w Thank you Netgalley and Disney Publishing for an advanced copy of this book. The trailer for Cruella came out last week, so watching that and reading Hello Cruel Heart really got me even more excited for the movie. During the London summer of 1967, Hello Cruel Heart follows Estella as she goes from stealing wallets of tourists at Harrods to stealing the heart of the rich young bourgeoisie of the city with her natural sense of fashion. It felt strange rooting for someone to succeed that we know will become DeVil and kidnap 101 puppies just to make a fur coat. Will Estella let Cruella to the surface? Read this book to find out and prepare yourself for when Cruella comes out this spring!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Audra

    I really, desperately wanted to love this book as a huge Johnson fan, but it was not for me. I felt the plot too heavily relied on the reader wanting to find out how she becomes Cruella, rather than the plot of the book actually pulling you in. I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading to find out what would happen next, nor did I develop attachments to the character. Super bummed, but you may love it a lot more if you’re a huge Cruella fan.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Betcei

    Was Cruella always so evil? Was there ever any good in her life? This story tells of her life as a teen and her "family" situation. A quick read for younger fans of Disney Was Cruella always so evil? Was there ever any good in her life? This story tells of her life as a teen and her "family" situation. A quick read for younger fans of Disney

  14. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    4.5 stars, I literally read it in a day so it's definitely entertaining! Full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbrl9... 4.5 stars, I literally read it in a day so it's definitely entertaining! Full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbrl9...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Bennett

    Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review! I requested to read this from Netgalley for two reasons. 1.) I am obsessed with all things Disney and 2.) I love Maureen Johnson and her writing. This was a very quick read and one that wasn’t a bore to read. If you go into this thinking you are getting a backstory of Cruella herself, you’ll be saddened by the fact that in this book she is just an alter-ego who is in the mind of Estella (if that’s what you would Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review! I requested to read this from Netgalley for two reasons. 1.) I am obsessed with all things Disney and 2.) I love Maureen Johnson and her writing. This was a very quick read and one that wasn’t a bore to read. If you go into this thinking you are getting a backstory of Cruella herself, you’ll be saddened by the fact that in this book she is just an alter-ego who is in the mind of Estella (if that’s what you would call it). She is only present when things get tough and Estella needs someone to push through it all without holding back. I did like parts of the book as well as the writing. Estella is a strong girl who goes through a lot and yet she doesn’t give up on her dreams. That is something to be admired. She doesn’t always make the best decisions but that’s what makes her human. Backstories can always be iffy especially when they are written after the original material. I have seen 101 Dalmatians (both the animated and cast multiple times) and to me this story takes away who Cruella is. I have not seen the trailer for the new movie and so I can’t say anything about that when it comes to this book or the original movie. I am curious though. There are a lot of things that happen to Estella that do correlate with the original movie, i.e. why she doesn’t like Dalmatians, but it doesn’t make sense. I won’t say as to keep this spoiler free but it just felt over the top and not even explained after the fact. She also treats those who have been there for her like trash. Horace and Jasper aren’t as dim-witted as they seem in the movies and have brought her when she was down in the dumps. At one point she says they are like brothers but also says they aren’t her friends. Even when she gets left behind by her so-called new friends and a boy, they bring her back into their lair without a hesitation. They are loyal and definitely deserve more respect from her. The plot can be predictable and I saw both of the plot twists coming. This could just be because a villain needs a lot of rough patches to make them who they are. Overall, it was good for what it is. I don’t think it was the worst backstory but there were just elements that left me questioning the creative choice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    Cute story about Cruella's teenage years. This one does NOT go along with the "Evil Thing" book that came out last year (they are two very different books where Cruella has very different backgrounds). Still, it's a fun story that shows us her relationship with Jasper and Horace in 1967 London. Cute story about Cruella's teenage years. This one does NOT go along with the "Evil Thing" book that came out last year (they are two very different books where Cruella has very different backgrounds). Still, it's a fun story that shows us her relationship with Jasper and Horace in 1967 London.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melonie

    Loved the cover and loved the book. It exceeded my expectations! I don't want to give anything away so I will say....I enjoyed it so much I read in one day. I liked this take on Cruella before she became a villain. Vivid colors and characters. Loved the cover and loved the book. It exceeded my expectations! I don't want to give anything away so I will say....I enjoyed it so much I read in one day. I liked this take on Cruella before she became a villain. Vivid colors and characters.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Disney Publishing Worldwide - Disney Press in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. Being a fan of 101 Dalmatians and a fan of the work of Maureen Johnson, I knew I was in for a treat with Hello, Cruel Heart and I was surely not disappointed. I absolutely loved the new direction Maureen Johnson took with this book focusing on Estella and the heists she took with you guessed it, Jasper and Horace a This book was received as an ARC from Disney Publishing Worldwide - Disney Press in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. Being a fan of 101 Dalmatians and a fan of the work of Maureen Johnson, I knew I was in for a treat with Hello, Cruel Heart and I was surely not disappointed. I absolutely loved the new direction Maureen Johnson took with this book focusing on Estella and the heists she took with you guessed it, Jasper and Horace and how she is achieving her dream as a fashion designer in high society with an extremely unique out of the box way. There were moments in the book where I was in disbelief and my jaw dropped open but Maureen Johnson brilliantly constructed a new and different adaptation to a Disney Classic Tale. I can't wait to share this title and hear the opinions from our library community and I know our teen book club will have enticing conversations too. We will consider adding this title to our YA collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus It's 1967, and London is swinging. Teen aged Estella can see all of the fun and fashion around her, but she's intent on pick pocketing and stealing what she needs from the stores, including Harrods and Liberty of London. Her sketchy past includes an uneasy childhood full of difficulties at school, self-esteem issues caused by her unusual black and white hair, and a mother who died mysteriously when Estella was 12. Luckily, Jasper and Horace, who were also on the s E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus It's 1967, and London is swinging. Teen aged Estella can see all of the fun and fashion around her, but she's intent on pick pocketing and stealing what she needs from the stores, including Harrods and Liberty of London. Her sketchy past includes an uneasy childhood full of difficulties at school, self-esteem issues caused by her unusual black and white hair, and a mother who died mysteriously when Estella was 12. Luckily, Jasper and Horace, who were also on the streets, took her under their wing, and the trio lives in part of a bombed out building. Estella loves to sew, something she learned from her mother, and a chance meeting with rich twins Magda and Richard gives her a chance to do that. The twins frequent boutiques like Granny Takes a Trip, hang with other young socialites, and are friends with the members of an up-and-coming band, the Electric Teacup. Impressing Magda with her Heinz bean tin plastic dress (ala Andy Warhol), Estella soon becomes part of her inner circle, helping her with outfits, making things for Magda's friends, and fashioning statement pieces for the band's television premier. She feels a connection with Peter, the lyricist and guitar player for the band, and when he visits at the flat she shares with Jasper and Horace, her friends are angry that she has given away their location, and Estella moves in with Magda. Things go well for a while, and the band's premier is a success. Everyone loves Estella's fashions, and she slowly starts to get over her troubled past, a time during which she frequently relied on her alter ego, Cruella, to survive. After Magda finds out more information about Estella's former way of life, and the two get caught in an awkward situation at Harrods, Magda and Richard decide to travel to Morocco. Estella is not invited. Having interpreted comments of Peter's about traveling to the US on a band tour, Estella thinks she can go with him when she is kicked out of the twins' house. When she is disappointed in this, and reunites with Jasper and Horace, she comes up with a plan to get her revenge and start her life of crime. Strengths: On, my goodness! This was absolutely not what I was expecting, but was fantastic! I knew that Johnson had an interest in London, after her descriptions in Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and there's a brief dip into the 1960s culture in The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3), but... wow. The bombed out buildings in post war London, the description of fashions, the forays into the shops and streets at the time, the name dropping of celebrity neighbors like Mick and Marianne, the dilettante lifestyle; Johnson really, really needs to write a historical novel centering on a teen besotted by the Beatles! Even Estella's fall from grace is perfectly done, and I completely bought the end where we see her turning into the woman who becomes Cruella. Masterful. For fans of Disney, even better. Weaknesses: Estella's backstory with her mother and schooling are brief, so I didn't get a good feel for the emotional damage that apparently caused, but I didn't really care. I wish the cover were much more psychedelic and showed the fashions of the times more. What I really think: I don't particularly care about the Cruella deVil connection of this one; the details of Carnaby Street era London are absolutely enthralling, and the story would stand alone even without that Disney background! The details are so good, in fact, that this would work for the 7th grade Decades Project-- did I know that the BBC had a fee for television usage and send detection teams around to see if people were watching television without a license? Wow.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Lovitt

    Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good villain origin story. Even better if it’s a villainess origin story, which are often woefully overlooked by the genre. I was thrilled to find a copy of Maureen Johnson’s Hello, Cruel Heart in my mailbox a few months back, but for some reason, I kept putting off reading it.  (READ MORE: https://yourmoneygeek.com/review-hell...) Then Disney went and released the trailer for Emma Stone’s rendition of everyone’s favorite fashion-icon-turned-puppy-murderer Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good villain origin story. Even better if it’s a villainess origin story, which are often woefully overlooked by the genre. I was thrilled to find a copy of Maureen Johnson’s Hello, Cruel Heart in my mailbox a few months back, but for some reason, I kept putting off reading it.  (READ MORE: https://yourmoneygeek.com/review-hell...) Then Disney went and released the trailer for Emma Stone’s rendition of everyone’s favorite fashion-icon-turned-puppy-murderer Cruella. Cue my renewed interest in the character which was originally brought to life in the 1961 classic 101 Dalmatians. What turned this woman into an antagonist who is more than willing to kill puppies for haute couture? Maureen Johnson attempts to answer that question in Hello, Cruel Heart.  Before there was Cruella De Vil, there was Estella. A sixteen-year-old fashion-loving pick-pocket, making the most out of her life in 1960s London. Right from the start, her point of view is fresh, engaging, and filled with potential. Johnson’s writing style had me instantly envisioning my own trip, once upon a time, through Harrods and she wrote London so vivaciously it felt like watching it, rather than reading it.  Not to be forgotten, Estella is accompanied by her two familiar accomplices, Horace and Jasper, who live in the same squatter’s home with her. They’re just as bumbling and incompetent as they are in 101 Dalmatians, but they’re given far more depth in Hello, Cruel Heart.  What’s a good villain origin story without a broken heart? Throughout the novel, Estella is romanced by a charming up-and-coming musician named Peter who’s love is not so black-and-white as she believes it to be. But at least he believes in her abilities and gets his band to wear her clothes.  Estella is also brought into a world of sumptuous luxury by two other teens, Magda and Richard, which is meant to lay the foundation for the Cruella we eventually come to love to hate. This is something I would have loved to read as a young reader. Who doesn’t love a good story where an orphan gets swept up into a life of luxury?  While Hello, Cruel Heart is a tremendously fun read, it wasn’t without a few issues for me. I didn’t feel as emotionally connected to Estella’s backstory as I expected to with an origin story novel. Her mother’s grizzly death, her upbringing, and schooling all felt lacking. With so much of that hinging on her undoing, I had really anticipated something more. While the book did wrap up a lot of the presented details, it ended rather abruptly. Perhaps setting up a future addition by Johnson?  There feels like more story to tell even before Cruella hits theaters. If you’re not looking for a very serious villain origin story for Cruella, then Hello, Cruel Heart may just be the book for you. It’s fresh, it’s fun, though it lacks something that could have made it a truly spectacular look at Cruella’s upbringing. 

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tasha Robinson

    I have had so little use for Disney's live-action adaptations of its animated classics, and not much more use for prequels like Maleficent, which often don't add a lot to the story, especially since they're all headed for foregone conclusions. But something about the idea of a Cruella de Vil backstory did actually interest me, maybe because it has so much potential — Cruella isn't an evil witch or god or animal, she's an actual person who had to come from somewhere. So I requested the arc of Hel I have had so little use for Disney's live-action adaptations of its animated classics, and not much more use for prequels like Maleficent, which often don't add a lot to the story, especially since they're all headed for foregone conclusions. But something about the idea of a Cruella de Vil backstory did actually interest me, maybe because it has so much potential — Cruella isn't an evil witch or god or animal, she's an actual person who had to come from somewhere. So I requested the arc of Hello, Cruel Heart, which seems to be a prequel to the prequel movie Cruella, coming out in spring 2021. It's a brisk but enjoyable read. The setting alone is a winner: 1960s Swinging London, amid the rise of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, with the British Invasion going on over in America, and an energetic youth culture taking over fashion and culture in England. Estella is an orphaned London teenager who lives in an abandoned building that was never remodeled after the Blitz, and she steals to survive alongside her friends Jasper and Horace. (If there's anything that bothers me about this prequel, it's the idea that these three all used to be equals, friends, and roommates, given that by the time of 101 Dalmatians, the two men are so clearly from a different class, and Jasper at least is a sharp, savvy kid who grows up to be such a lummox.) "Cruella" is more of a voice in her head, the least charitable and angriest part of herself, who leads her to constantly question herself and to doubt other people. But Estella is a brilliant savant about design and fashion, and she makes her own clothes, which leads her to an accidental run-in with London's trust-fund kids. One of my favorite parts of the book was the culture shock she experiences when she realizes how the idle rich live, and how much they take for granted, compared to how she and her friends get by. The setting is sketched pretty simply compared to what it would be in a book aimed more at an adult audience, but it's still pretty evocative, feeding a fantasy of luxury while making it clear what the cost of that luxury is for the shallow, spoiled people enjoying it — and making it clear how appealing it is to something who comes from nothing. The ending is inevitable, not just because this is a prequel, but because there's barely any other way for a story like this to go, as a poor girl falls in among the rich and learns that her fantasies aren't all they're cracked up to be. But the getting there is entertaining, whether it's focusing on the details of Estrella's latest fashion project, or the design of her posh new friends' favorite café, or the convoluted process involved in accessing her bombed-out home. The one place that isn't really detailed enough at all is the passage where Estrella loses her mother, which is so vague that it must be leaving room either for a sequel that follows up on what happened there, or for the movie, which seems to deal with the same people involved in what happened there. Regardless, I'd read an actual series about the adventures of Estrella in London if it came to that — she's a decently compelling character all on her own, even without a classic-film tie-in ahead of her.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alexina

    Thank you to NetGalley, Maureen Johnson, and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is what I'd best call "an origin story" for the infamous Cruella DeVille of 101 Dalmatians fame. We actually meet Cruella in her younger, teen years, when she is but a second persona/voice within 16 year old Estella's mind. So, in other words, Cruella wasn't always Cruella. She was actually a 16 year old orphan who survived by lifting wallets, and such, from tourists with her adopt Thank you to NetGalley, Maureen Johnson, and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is what I'd best call "an origin story" for the infamous Cruella DeVille of 101 Dalmatians fame. We actually meet Cruella in her younger, teen years, when she is but a second persona/voice within 16 year old Estella's mind. So, in other words, Cruella wasn't always Cruella. She was actually a 16 year old orphan who survived by lifting wallets, and such, from tourists with her adopted family, fellow street con artists Horace and Jasper (yes, the same two we see in the Disney movies though the dynamic). But, Estella dreams of something bigger for herself. You see, Estella is a highly talented seamstress, fashion designer, and clothes maker. She knows that, one day, she's going to be the talk of town and live a lavish lifestyle. So when a happenstance meeting occurs between Estella and posh twins Magda and Richard, Estella suddenly sees her dreams come to fruition: the twins give her a lavish place to stay, they shower her with food and new clothes, and they help make her clothing designs the talk of town. But, under all this, Estella is still "visited" by Cruella. That tiny voice that whispers to Estella all the dark truths of the world. The things to which Estella turns a blind eye. And, as much as Estella wants to fight off and bury Cruella, she's going to learn that it just isn't that simple... Especially in that fickle, lavish world. ------ The love I have for this book is for all the right reasons: -I like Maureen Johnson's writing. Her "Truly Devious" series is one I ate up and, although this isn't a mystery series, Cruella, as a character, was a mystery, right? We never knew why Cruella acted the way she did in all those movies but this book... this gives you an origin. -I really love origin stories. We mostly see them with superheroes (ask me how many hours I've spent reading about Wanda Maximoff after finishing Disney+'s Wandavision series) but sometimes we get a good villain origin story. And I love to explore the intricacies of characters and really explore how they may have become the way they are. -You're going to have a soft spot for Cruella, especially if you haven't before. -Maureen Johnson, though subtle, draws attention to the societal divide between the rich and the poor. You'll probably walk away from this one hating the lavish lifestyle because you'll witness how cruel the obscenely rich can be with a lower class. This is appropriate for middle school and above. Although there are a few kissing scenes, they're very PG. I also think middle schoolers could relate to Estella.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexina

    Thank you to NetGalley, Maureen Johnson, and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is what I'd best call "an origin story" for the infamous Cruella DeVille of 101 Dalmatians fame. We actually meet Cruella in her younger, teen years, when she is but a second persona/voice within 16 year old Estella's mind. So, in other words, Cruella wasn't always Cruella. She was actually a 16 year old orphan who survived by lifting wallets, and such, from tourists with her adopt Thank you to NetGalley, Maureen Johnson, and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is what I'd best call "an origin story" for the infamous Cruella DeVille of 101 Dalmatians fame. We actually meet Cruella in her younger, teen years, when she is but a second persona/voice within 16 year old Estella's mind. So, in other words, Cruella wasn't always Cruella. She was actually a 16 year old orphan who survived by lifting wallets, and such, from tourists with her adopted family, fellow street con artists Horace and Jasper (yes, the same two we see in the Disney movies though the dynamic). But, Estella dreams of something bigger for herself. You see, Estella is a highly talented seamstress, fashion designer, and clothes maker. She knows that, one day, she's going to be the talk of town and live a lavish lifestyle. So when a happenstance meeting occurs between Estella and posh twins Magda and Richard, Estella suddenly sees her dreams come to fruition: the twins give her a lavish place to stay, they shower her with food and new clothes, and they help make her clothing designs the talk of town. But, under all this, Estella is still "visited" by Cruella. That tiny voice that whispers to Estella all the dark truths of the world. The things to which Estella turns a blind eye. And, as much as Estella wants to fight off and bury Cruella, she's going to learn that it just isn't that simple... Especially in that fickle, lavish world. ------ The love I have for this book is for all the right reasons: -I like Maureen Johnson's writing. Her "Truly Devious" series is one I ate up and, although this isn't a mystery series, Cruella, as a character, was a mystery, right? We never knew why Cruella acted the way she did in all those movies but this book... this gives you an origin. -I really love origin stories. We mostly see them with superheroes (ask me how many hours I've spent reading about Wanda Maximoff after finishing Disney+'s Wandavision series) but sometimes we get a good villain origin story. And I love to explore the intricacies of characters and really explore how they may have become the way they are. -You're going to have a soft spot for Cruella, especially if you haven't before. -Maureen Johnson, though subtle, draws attention to the societal divide between the rich and the poor. You'll probably walk away from this one hating the lavish lifestyle because you'll witness how cruel the obscenely rich can be with a lower class. This is appropriate for middle school and above. Although there are a few kissing scenes, they're very PG. I also think middle schoolers could relate to Estella.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Starr ❇✌❇

    I received an ARC from Edelweiss 3 Estrella grew up on the streets, with only two other orphans to call her family. Growing her skill as a designer via elaborate disguises to help get away with stealing, she doesn't expect that fashion expertise to sweep her away into the upper class world, or wind up with a rising star musician as a boyfriend. But not all things can last forever, and not all friends are real. I requested this book partially because I'm always up to give Maureen Johnson some love ( I received an ARC from Edelweiss 3 Estrella grew up on the streets, with only two other orphans to call her family. Growing her skill as a designer via elaborate disguises to help get away with stealing, she doesn't expect that fashion expertise to sweep her away into the upper class world, or wind up with a rising star musician as a boyfriend. But not all things can last forever, and not all friends are real. I requested this book partially because I'm always up to give Maureen Johnson some love (and the benefit of the doubt), and two because I really can't think of any way of making Cruella de Vil sympathetic. I do think that she did what she could to hit that mark, since it was such an impossible mark, but the result is pretty baffling. I have to say, if I were a far, far younger reader, I might have found something fun about this book. It reminds me of those "nothing needs to be realistic" girl-gets-everything kind of pre-teen era books, except add in sleeping in an underground lair and some really ridiculous backstory. Still, I can see people liking the things that put my off, to a degree. However, even without the really flat and unrealistic story, and the fact that it's a story about basically the least sympathetic Disney villain, it was over the top. I mean, her mother was mauled to death by dalmatians. And no, folks, this is never really explained. In a tongue and cheek way all the references kind of work, but as an actual story they feel disjointed in a way that's actually kind of startling. It took me halfway through the book to realize that that weird "not quite right but it feels like the author's having fun with what they've got to play with" feeling actually was pretty much just the "I'm reading a fanfic I don't totally understand or agree with" feeling, and after I shifted my brain in fanfiction mode it was way easier to read, as well as way easier not to get mad about. The only part that I totally can't give a pass to- fanfiction or not- is that after everything in this story comes to an end there is totally no change. If you can skip the middle of a story and feel like you didn't miss anything in the ending, that means there's no arc. Bad in general, but really bad if you're writing a prequel/origin story. There is no origin here, no reason at all to have honed in on this part of Estrella's life in relation to her future. Nothing happens! Or, at least, nothing sticks around from any of that. Not even an ominous remark in the finale. It's a self sustaining organism, which doesn't make any sense at all if it's meant to show us something about Cruella and her progression. What I can say to that is- again, you really can't make Cruella de Vil sympathetic. Unless you declaw her, try to avoid any talk of what she actually does in the movie, and focus on a zany narrative. So, really, I get it. I think this was probably a story Johnson was asked to write and she did what she could with it. It definitely wasn't one of my favorite reads, and I personally had plenty of issues, but I don't see how anyone could have done much better plot-wise, and the kookiness may attract some readers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cassandre

    I am a huge Disney fan, but I’ve never been all that interested in Cruella DeVil or the 101 Dalmatians movie(s). I’m not a big animal person (except for my pupper, of course), and I think the premise scared me as a child, so I never really returned to the film. I have seen the Glenn Close version a few times, however, and though she was fantastic in the role, the movie isn’t one I return to often. All that being said, Emma Stone is picking up the torch for the prequel/origin story Cruella that i I am a huge Disney fan, but I’ve never been all that interested in Cruella DeVil or the 101 Dalmatians movie(s). I’m not a big animal person (except for my pupper, of course), and I think the premise scared me as a child, so I never really returned to the film. I have seen the Glenn Close version a few times, however, and though she was fantastic in the role, the movie isn’t one I return to often. All that being said, Emma Stone is picking up the torch for the prequel/origin story Cruella that is coming out later this year, and this book, Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson is the prequel to that movie. It’s all a bit convoluted, but it was honestly Johnson’s name as the author that attracted me to this book, more than the protagonist. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is one of those books that has stayed with me, and though I haven’t read many books from her expansive list, I perk up every time I see her name. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. As previously mentioned, I’m not a big Cruella DeVil fan, and I dragged my heels a little at diving into this story, but once I got invested in Estella’s story, I was curious to see where it went. Estella’s origin story here is interesting and believable. You learn how Jasper and Horace come into her life, how into fashion she is and why she became so cruel. She truly was a girl who thought she was going places: She had made new friends, found love and was an in-demand designer, only to have everything taken away from her in one fell swoop. Her alter-ego, Cruella, is a little bit of a stretch, but I see what they were trying to do: It’s not like anyone would actually name their child Cruella. I wish there was a connection to puppies or dogs somewhere along the line. I may be missing something from my vague memory of the movies, but Estella has a puppy that she loves in the book, and I really wish something had happened to her (along with everything else) that made her have no remorse for wanting to skin dogs later in life, because “just for the fashion” is not enough for me. Maureen Johnson continues to impress with Hello, Cruel Heart. It’s nicely paced, the characters are fully developed and full of life, and Disney fans (or even fans of historical YA fiction) will really enjoy this story. I’m interested to see how it all plays out in the movie later this year, and I’m glad I was able to read this book first to get the whole picture. 4 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Press for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    CatNip S

    This EXCEEDED my expectations! In all honesty, I went into this book not expecting to like it. I usually don't like books like this because, given that it's a prequel of a villain, I know how it's going to turn out. I was shocked that, despite my predetermined thoughts, I was so enthralled by the book. I'm only slightly disappointed because I sometimes feel like I'm really generous with my reviews and I was thinking, "This is awesome! I can give a book an average review instead of an amazing one This EXCEEDED my expectations! In all honesty, I went into this book not expecting to like it. I usually don't like books like this because, given that it's a prequel of a villain, I know how it's going to turn out. I was shocked that, despite my predetermined thoughts, I was so enthralled by the book. I'm only slightly disappointed because I sometimes feel like I'm really generous with my reviews and I was thinking, "This is awesome! I can give a book an average review instead of an amazing one." Nope! I loved this book way too much for me to give it any less than 5 stars. I'll even give it a 4.5 if I'm being stingy. While there are other books out there that I'm completely and utterly in love with, I love this story in a different way. If that makes any sense. If it confuses you, then imagine how I feel reviewing books with my complicated emotions towards each one I read! Moving on now... One thing that I didn't even notice I liked about the book until I practically binge read it, was that the story flowed very smoothly. I was caught up in Estella's life and personality. The author also did a good job of showing hints of Estella's darker side out in order to paint a picture of how she, at some point in her life, become the villain we all know and... love? I don't know anymore because my feelings towards Estella/Cruella are all befuddled now! A little part of me kind of wished to see more of Estella's darker side, though, because it would just paint her future character in so much more detail. I did enjoy the moments where we saw Cruella peek out of Estella's normal personality, but they were few and far between, in my opinion. There was a part towards the end of the book that I feel could've been built up to a little better throughout the story, but the more I think about it, the more I see that if Estella didn't see the build-up, then we probably wouldn't have either. I don't know... I still kind of wish there had been hints here and there. But because it was such a minor part of the overall story, it didn't bother me too much and I was still able to love the book. Well, there you go! I really loved this book so much more than I thought I would and it's given me a much larger love for this Disney villain than I thought I could ever get.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

    Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Origin stories are so much fun. I really liked seeing where Estella (Cruella is her cruel alter ego) came from. Her beginnings were so sad. She got kicked out of school and planned on going to London with her mom. But on the way there everything went wrong, she lost her mom (and blamed herself) and ended up in London by herself at a very young age. There, she was found by 2 familiar characters, Horace and Jasper and Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Origin stories are so much fun. I really liked seeing where Estella (Cruella is her cruel alter ego) came from. Her beginnings were so sad. She got kicked out of school and planned on going to London with her mom. But on the way there everything went wrong, she lost her mom (and blamed herself) and ended up in London by herself at a very young age. There, she was found by 2 familiar characters, Horace and Jasper and ends up living with them and stealing for a living. As I believe we know from 101 Dalmatians, Cruella loves fashion. Estella loves making clothes. She finds a bigger life when she happens to meet rich siblings Magda and Richard, and they take her under their wing. Magda and Richard were enjoyable characters, Magda being more of a main character than Richard. Estella also meets an up and coming new band The Electric Teacup and falls for one of the band members. Their relationship was very sweet. The atmosphere of the book was wonderful, it really felt like I was living in 1960's wealthy London. The description of the trio's hangouts, houses, friends, clubs. That was also really the entire plot. Estella navigating through this new lifestyle and following her dreams. I do wish there was a little bit more to it. Since we know how Cruella ends up in 101 Dalmatians, I was thinking there was going to be this huge reason she turns out how she is, especially when we find out that Cruella is basically her other personality who comes out when she is angry or upset, not her entire personality at this point. But the ending, really a few things happen that aren't completely horrible and that's where it ends. I do understand that what happens is something that is really upsetting, but I thought the reason would be different than what happened. It was kind of predictable. And along with the bad things that happened, there is kind of a silver lining at the very end which doesn't really lend to Cruella being how she is. I don't know the actual plotline of the movie, but I'm hoping it takes place after this book and goes into more of how Cruella came to be, because at the end of this book it seemed more like she was still Estella and not as much Cruella.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brianne

    Hello, Cruel Heart By Maureen Johnson Actual Rating: 4.5/5 stars I received an eARC via NetGalley from Disney Publishing Worldwide: Disney Press in exchange for an honest review. ***Warning: mild spoilers ahead*** In Hello, Cruel Heart, we get to meet a 16-year-old Estella before she becomes the Cruella we all know from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. We follow Estella as she lives during the summer of 1967 in a swinging London, England. She lives with Horace and Jasper, young thieves and her found family, Hello, Cruel Heart By Maureen Johnson Actual Rating: 4.5/5 stars I received an eARC via NetGalley from Disney Publishing Worldwide: Disney Press in exchange for an honest review. ***Warning: mild spoilers ahead*** In Hello, Cruel Heart, we get to meet a 16-year-old Estella before she becomes the Cruella we all know from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. We follow Estella as she lives during the summer of 1967 in a swinging London, England. She lives with Horace and Jasper, young thieves and her found family, in the ruins of a building which was bombed during World War II. They have made a way for themselves by pickpocketing and stealing other items they need to survive. While in the process of stealing fabric for one of her clothing designs, Estella meets Magda and Richard Moresby-Plum, twins from London high society. Subsequently, Magda and Richard sweep Estella away into their lavish lifestyles. While Estella sees this as the perfect opportunity to finally have her clothing designs noticed by the rich and famous, she has to decide what she might be willing to lose to get there. I absolutely enjoyed this origin story for Cruella de Vil. Throughout the story, Estella is fighting against her inner Cruella. This inner Cruella is constantly trying to tell Estella that she doesn’t belong with her new high society friends. Estella is already a creative and talented clothing designer who just wants to be noticed for her work. While Horace and Jasper don’t entirely understand Estella’s creative genius, they are supportive. In fact, Estella makes the disguises the three of them use when they go out to steal. Hello, Cruel Heart is such a fun story, and Maureen Johnson’s writing is fantastic. Following Estella as she has a whirlwind summer in London’s high society was exciting. Of course, it was also satisfying to see Estella learn that her supposed friends, Magda and Richard, don’t necessarily have her best interests at heart. I couldn’t help but smile when Estella finally embraces her inner Cruella and is welcomed back by her real friends, Horace and Jasper, at the end of the story. I recommend Hello, Cruel Heart to readers who are Disney fans and who enjoy coming-of-age stories for strong female characters.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    First off I would appreciate it if someone could tell me why I love retellings/origin stories so much. Even if I don’t know anything about the original stories. That’s not to say that that was the case with this book; i know just as much about miss Cruella de Vil as any other average pedestrian. But I digress. Because I usually love a good recycled concept so much, it saddens me greatly to say that I found this book to be…. underwhelming. eSPECIALLY considering how much I love everything else I’v First off I would appreciate it if someone could tell me why I love retellings/origin stories so much. Even if I don’t know anything about the original stories. That’s not to say that that was the case with this book; i know just as much about miss Cruella de Vil as any other average pedestrian. But I digress. Because I usually love a good recycled concept so much, it saddens me greatly to say that I found this book to be…. underwhelming. eSPECIALLY considering how much I love everything else I’ve read by Maureen Johnson. I guess you could say I had some expectations that just weren’t met. The story is basically: a teenage Estella aka Cruella sews stuff and shoplifts with her street urchin buddies until she starts running around with some posh hipsters and the guitarist of a boy band. she also lowkey becomes famous in the fashion industry for a hot sec before everyone promptly forgets about her? Writing it out like this makes me realize how little aCTUALLY happens in this book. The climax is virtually nonexistent, and by the end pretty much everything is just back the way it started. I still have questions though? Because her super tragic backstory includes the death of her mom, but we never really find out why what happened……. happened? I thought the scene hinted at answers to come, but I guess I was fooled. As for the characters, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re all unlikeable, but certainly none of them are too memorable. Jasper and Horace, Estella’s cronies, had potential, but there just wasn’t enough of them to leave any real impression. Overall, I don’t think this book lives up to its potential. If the characters had just a little more substance, if the plot had higher stakes, if it really showed us any of Estella’s development into an evil super villian, it probably would’ve been fantastic. But the thing is, I don’t even quite see how this story ties into the character of Cruella de Vil, like, at all. Besides them sharing a name. I feel like I’m just ranting at this point; y’all get what I’m trying to say. I hope. Anyway, all that said, I still think this book was a fun enough read. If you’re looking for something light, quick, and easy, this one may just be the one for you.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caity

    This is a really interesting book. It is very well written and I enjoyed reading it but it also wasn’t really what I was expecting. Stella throughout the story hasn’t become the hateful would be puppy murderer yet, but she also isn’t a very sympathetic character. There are some dark moments to her life but she is also manipulative and self centered. She’s not evil yet but she’s also not someone I would voluntarily spend time with. I was expecting more of an explanation of why she was the psycho This is a really interesting book. It is very well written and I enjoyed reading it but it also wasn’t really what I was expecting. Stella throughout the story hasn’t become the hateful would be puppy murderer yet, but she also isn’t a very sympathetic character. There are some dark moments to her life but she is also manipulative and self centered. She’s not evil yet but she’s also not someone I would voluntarily spend time with. I was expecting more of an explanation of why she was the psycho Cruella we know from the movies but the book ends with her clearly beginning her true descent into awfulness. That said the book is really well written. While Stella isn’t really a sympathetic character that always felt kind of off the table for me; there isn’t really a way to justify wanting to kill a bunch of puppies. I thought the book did a great job however of humanizing her. She does fell like a real person on a bad path and not just a villain. I also loved the setting and how she forced herself into the high fashion crowd for the summer. The other characters that travel in this circle are also well written as kind of sad and awful, using Stella for her fashion just as she uses them for the exposure and lifestyle. It was also interesting seeing that her future henchmen are also the closest thing she has to family and how she treats them. There is clearly an intense bond but she also treats them as far beneath her even as they’re all living together in the remains of a bombed out building. The setting was well written and just a little surreal; I loved the vibrant summer feel of everything. The story ended at a natural turning point that left me satisfied that tale was done but still wanting more. I am curious to see more of her journey to fully being Cruella and curious if she ever learns more about her own past. It is an entrancing story and I found the book hard to put down.

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