Book Review: Cold Hearted (Villains, #8) by Serena Valentino #FairyTale #Retelling #2021RetellingReadingChallenge

Cold Hearted by Serena Valentino


This was supposed to be her happily ever after…

It’s a familiar tale: A kind and beautiful young girl, reeling from loss. A doting father, frantic to bring a mother’s love back into his daughter’s life. And the selfish, cruel woman who insinuates herself into that family―a woman so unfeeling, so cold hearted, that when her new husband dies, she makes the girl a servant in her own home.But who is that evil stepmother, that icy lady of the house? How did she become so closed off that, in the face of a child’s grief, she thought only to seek wealth and power for herself and her abhorrent daughters? Before that fateful ball, before the glass slipper and the prince, there was another story―a story of love and grief, of hope and of dreams dashed. It is the story of Lady Tremaine.

Even the coldest of villains are sometimes wives and mothers, women who loved and lost and hoped for something grander for their lives . . . once upon a dream.

The latest novel in Serena Valentino’s deliciously devious Villains series introduces the most famed and hated wicked stepmother of them all―but turns everything you know about her on its head.

My Review:

Retellings are some of my favorite books to read. I’ve had my eye on this series for some time now. After picking up book #8 Cold Hearted, I went ahead and began reading about Lady Tremaine and her daughters. While this turned out to be a captivating story at first, I think it would’ve been best to read the books in order due to the mention of previous characters and events in the story.

The book begins with Lady Tremaine after she has lost her loving husband and is now left to raise her daughters alone. Luckily, Lady Tremaine is wealthy, and the girls don’t do without anything. Anastasia and Drizella don’t have the best qualities; they both have behavioral issues. Lady Tremaine sets out on a much-needed journey to visit a friend, Lady Hackle, leaving the girls at home. Here she meets Sir Richard, and she contemplates a future life with him and allowing love in her life again.

Initially, what I admired most about this story was the turn of the tables as far as the characters are concerned. Some of the same characters from the most recent Cinderella movie are followed, including Lady Tremaine, her daughters, and the Grand Duke. It didn’t seem at all like it would be similar to the original Cinderella, and I was fascinated to finally read a fresh retelling. Lady Tremaine’s character is redeemed as her backstory comes to light. Cinderella isn’t the perfect little innocent daughter either, and Lady Tremaine (at first) has some good intentions. The end of the story is left open to multiple possibilities as the reader questions what role The Book of Fairy Tales will play. My issue was the turn the story took in the end and the fate of the characters. The ending just felt generic to me, and I just wanted more.

Cold Hearted was an enjoyable read, and I plan to go back and read all the books in order. It was an easy read and written well. This book can be read as a standalone, but there are a few mentions of characters and events from previous installments which would’ve been nice to know beforehand.


Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Disney-Hyperion (July 6, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1368025285
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1368025287
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 12 – 18 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 7 – 12

This book is #11 for the 2021 Retelling Reading Challenge. You can see my progress by clicking the image below.

Thanks for reading my book review of Cold Hearted. Have you read this book or any in the series? Feel free to leave your comments below.


20 thoughts on “Book Review: Cold Hearted (Villains, #8) by Serena Valentino #FairyTale #Retelling #2021RetellingReadingChallenge

  1. Pingback: 2021 Retellings Reading Challenge: #2021ReadingChallenge #FairyTales #RetellingsReadingChallenge #Retellings #Books – ReadRantRock&Roll

    1. I hear you. I don’t know many people who really enjoy them as much as I do. It’s just my love of fairy tales I think. I’d be willing to bet there’s a retelling out there for you though! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not much on retellings, but this one sounds different and interesting. That cover is pretty astounding, too.

    Cinderella (along with Beauty and the Beast) is my favorite childhood fairy tale. I often worry that reading a retelling will spoil my memories. Do you ever find that when you read these?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Mae! I have a feeling this entire series has some neat twists. My oldest daughter read a few of them and told me to go in order, but this one just released and I couldn’t resist. 😉 There’s a surprise under the dust jackets on these too!

      I’ve actually never had an issue with retellings and end up revisiting the classics with my kids quite frequently too. I never seem to tire of them either. I can see how that might happen with some readers though. You definitely have to have an open mind with some of them! If you love Beauty and the Beast, I would definitely recommend Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly. I can’t remember if that one is middle-grade or YA, but it’s worth the read if you’re okay with it being in that age group. Some of the adult BATB retellings have been too erotic or just off the wall for me. Seems to be hit and miss.

      Thanks for your thoughts, Mae. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  3. starjustin

    I can’t say that I like Lady Tremane and her daughters being the good guys. Lol. I love the original Cinderella story so maybe that’s why. You know how much I love Ever After.
    Great review Jen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t say they were the good guys, but Lady Tremaine’s character early ok was somewhat redeemed. Her daughters still has some questionable behavior. It’s just a neat twist on the classic. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: This Week’s Reads: The Princess Bride – Smoke and Mirrors – The Graveyard Book – Horses & Ponies #amreading #books #bookblog – ReadRantRock&Roll

  5. Pingback: Final results! 2021 Retellings Reading Challenge: #2021ReadingChallenge #FairyTales #RetellingsReadingChallenge – ReadRantRock&Roll

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s