Evil Thing


Good Reads

The cover of “Evil Things,” written by Serena Valenino.

Madeeha Akhtar, Columnist

The novel “Evil Thing” by Serena Valentino is about Cruella De Vil, the villain in the famous movie “101 Dalmations.” This novel shares her side of the story, and puts a huge spin on the villainous woman. 

In the original movie, some audience members may recollect Roger saying that Cruella is Anita’s “dear old schoolmate.” This may have caused some confusion because Cruella does look considerably older than young Anita. Now in Cruella’s view, audience members will be able to see a new in-depth look at Cruella’s friendship with Anita, where her obsession with fur comes from, and why she seems so old.

As a child, Cruella only got to see her mother for one hour each day. Cruella always adored her mother, and felt so appreciative and loved that her mother would take an hour out of her busy day, just to spend with her. In the book, Cruella says “but my favorite part of each day was when I would go down to the morning room with Miss Pricket to spend a blissful hour with my mama. One hour every day, entirely devoted to me.” Cruella was often neglected by her mother and was raised by Miss Pricket, her governess, which always sparked determination in Cruella to work hard to get noticed by her mom. Cruella’s desire to be loved by her mother plays an important role later in the book. 

Cruella’s father was also very important to her. “He wasn’t one of those stuffy lords, the sort that looked like a giant walrus or stodgy bird. He was handsome and always smiling.” Cruella’s father and mother weren’t very alike. While her mother looked down on Cruella’s friendship with Anita, her father encouraged it. He would always make Cruella laugh and tuck her into bed at night. When Cruella’s father died of a sickness, her mother was grief struck. She left the house for a trip without even saying goodbye. Cruella felt terrible. She thought that her mother blamed her for the death of her father. This could be because instead of leaving all of his possessions with his wife, he left them for Cruella, as long as she kept the De Vil name. Anita, Cruella’s best friend, stayed with her as she mourned the loss of her father and the hate of her mother. 

In the movie, it is clear that Cruella does not like Anita or the Dalmations. Yet, in the book, Cruella and Anita have a strong friendship that makes readers wonder what drove them apart. Cruella is of a higher class, and is constantly reminded by her mother that she is only allowed to interact with people of her class. Cruella agrees, but her one exception is Anita. Cruella and Anita’s friendship was very special, as they spent all their time together reading books and playing games. Cruella describes Anita as being “like a sister” to her. After her father died, Cruella goes to a boarding school where rich families send their daughters, and takes Anita with her. Many readers were probably thinking that this is what stained their friendship. Cruella is going to be surrounded by people like her, it would only make sense that she would abandon Anita.

However, quite the opposite occurred. Cruella defended Anita against the rude classmates and teachers. She even threatened the principal, saying that if anyone looked down on Anita, she would call her solicitor and all the funding to the school would cease. This, of course, made the situation between the two friends even more curious to the readers. We know that they will grow apart. But how?

Cruella never wanted to marry. She wanted to travel the world with Anita, but Anita had other plans. She said she was going to typing school. She wanted to be able to make a living for herself. She didn’t want to rely on Cruella her whole life. Cruella was shocked. How could her best friend give up on the dreams they had since they were little to go to typing school? This upset Cruella. Cruella, still having no plans to marry, met a man named Jack Shortbottom. After their introduction to each other, Cruella changed her mind. Anita didn’t want Cruella to marry Jack and things escalated. Anita left Cruella with Perdita, the Dalmation that she had gotten her. Cruella tried to ignore the ache in her heart from leaving her childhood best friend, and married Jack. They were very happy together and what pleased Cruella even more was that her mother was happy for her. Cruella all her life had wanted her mother’s love, and finally, she got it, by giving her mother all of her fortune. Cruella didn’t think she needed it. Afterall, she had a rich husband whom she loved very much. And when her mother finally told Cruella she loved her, all traces of fixing her friendship with Anita was gone. 

Cruella’s happiness, however, was short-lived. The happiness Cruella once had left her, and so did the color of her hair, or at least half of it. Heartbroken, Cruella decided to reach out to Anita. She wanted to fix her friendship. Surely she could be happy with Anita by her side.

One look at Anita and her dog and she realized she was wrong. Anita didn’t need her like Cruella did. She was fine with her husband Roger and their dogs. Cruella was enraged but tried to hide it. Cruella wanted her revenge, and tried doing so in the form of a spotted coat.

This novel by Serena Valentino was full of twists and turns. It was a humorous and heartbreaking story that many readers are sure to enjoy. Valentino’s book proves that nothing is as simple as black and white.