Life is Magic: An Estelle Laure Book Review

When Disney decided to reimagine some of their classic stories in an urban noir environment, author Estelle Laure knew she wanted to make that series, City of Villains, hers.

Laure comes from a long line of writers, storytellers and curious people, so it wasn't a surprise that her love for it was genetic.

“I think if you have an appetite for all the facets of the human experience, there’s no better place to find information and to try on different lives than in books,” she said. “The magic of writing and being the storyteller is that you get to project your imagination outward. Maybe it’s because I grew up on Reading Rainbow, but I always think of it like a magical rainbow where my imagination and a reader’s intersect in an explosion of color and fairy dust. I love that more than anything else about being alive, and frankly I think my love of reading and storytelling have saved my life many times over.”

City of Villains shares the story of Mary Elizabeth Heart, a high school senior who spends her evenings interning at the Monarch City Police Department. She longs to follow the detectives who are out solving cases, and when the daughter of one of the city’s most powerful businessmen goes missing, the chief finally lets her.

“...As soon as I saw it I felt this kind of sticky urgency to be the one to author the proposed series,” Laure said. “I mean, an urban procedural detective story starring Disney villains as teens? It was one of the strangest, coolest things I’d ever seen and the way it began to unfurl and develop organically for me from there told me I would be able to do it in a way that could work.”

It’s surreal for Laure to think that she wrote a book for Disney with many of their legendary characters, but there were also challenging moments of keeping these characters’ legacies while giving herself the freedom to step away and evolve their backstories.

“I worked hard to update their looks, fill in their psychologies and make them feel real,” she said.

Laure hopes that readers feel like warriors after reading City of Villains. She wants them to feel like they can face difficulties with courage, just like Mary Elizabeth, and know that they can get back up after being knocked down. Mostly, she hopes readers will feel magical, because life is magic even when it’s hard.

City of Villains is available here.