Hello, Cruel Heart: a new Maureen Johnson story


I received this book for free from ARC from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that if it's bad, I'll say so, regardless of how I received the book.

Hello, Cruel Heart: a new Maureen Johnson storyHello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson
Published by Disney Press on April 6, 2021
ISBN: 1368057764
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: ARC from Publisher

What’s this? A book review? But isn’t Mass Consternation on hiatus?

Yes, the hiatus continues. I committed to reading Hello, Cruel Heart, months ago, with the best intentions. I knew it was a stretch fitting it in, but… Maureen Johnson. Now it’s six weeks since Hello, Cruel Heart was released and I just read it this weekend.

Hello, Cruel Heart is Maureen Johnson’s story of Cruella’s teen years. And timed for Disney’s latest movie featuring the 101 Dalmatians villain.

When we meet Cruella, she’s a 16-year-old Estella, living rough in swinging 60s London and the bad cricket voice in her head is Cruella. Her and her two friends, Horace and Jasper, get by shoplifting and stealing purses and bags, successfully. In her spare time, Estella designs amazing clothing and also costumes with hidden pockets to hide the takings.

The story is fairly predictable. Estella is a talented fashion designer, but unknown and poor. She becomes friends with a couple of trust-fund twins, who declare her their pet for the summer. Estella rejects Horace and Jasper for her “new start” with the rich and famous. The rest is a predictable spoiler so I’ll stop the overview.

Hello, Cruel Heart is no 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Estella is no Jubilee (from Let it Snow). I started getting bored 30% in and by 40% I wondered if Disney set strict conditions when they commission a novel. I’m not sure if Maureen has read The Boy Who Steals Houses, but the story has many similarities. Luckily Hello, Cruel Heart is an easy read and today I finished it, skimming the last 40%.

While this lacked the magic of Maureen’s own stories, it could be that it’s a Disney story. I requested this from Net Galley because of the author, not the topic, so it could just be a mismatch for me.

If you’re a Disney fan, you may like Hello, Cruel Heart. I’m back on hiatus.

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More about Bianca

Bianca Smith is often asked which of her homes she prefers: Melbourne or Seattle? She thinks both have their benefits, Melbourne for coffee and Seattle for poke. Both are bookish. However, she's in Melbourne reading away. Bianca is a digital marketer by day and reads mainly young adult and fantasy novels.

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