It’s a good month for fans of the mistress of evil. The sequel to Maleficent Is about to open in theaters around the world and fans of the film can bridge the gap between the two films with a new book from Disney Press. Heart of the Moors by Holly Black creates a new story that takes place shortly before the events of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Aurora is settling into her responsibilities as queen of both Perceforest and the Moors, accepting the help of her father’s most trusted advisor Lord Ortolan. As Aurora works hard to unite the human and faerie worlds of her kingdom in harmony, Maleficent and Phillip routinely clash as Phillip takes steps to turn his friendship with Aurora into a relationship. But they’ll have to overcome their dislike of one another when forces try to undermine Aurora’s leadership.

While I didn’t love the first Maleficent film, I reviewed the novelization prior to the film’s release and loved it. That book was based on an earlier draft of the script that included a lengthier prologue about the Moors and included several deleted characters. Some of them make their way into Heart of the Moors and this book would be well-read by those who enjoyed that novelization. It’s not essential to have read it, but I appreciated the way this story brings in elements of the omitted backstory.

That being said, nothing in Heart of the Moors is essential to enjoying Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. In fact, I would steer clear if you’re not a big fan of the first film. Since I’m not, I can say I casually enjoyed Heart of the Moors but it was predictable and dragged on a bit. You know that the three lead characters are in the sequel, so any danger they encounter is guaranteed to be temporary. Even then, the stakes seem low compared to the events of the first film.

Heart of the Moors is a nice way for fans of Maleficent to spend more time in this magical realm. The story may be a little light on content, but seeing Aurora and Phillip’s relationship evolve is sweet nonetheless. If you want to bridge the gap between the two films, Heart of the Moors is for you.

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