Conceal, Don’t Feel
Disney Twisted Tales #7
author : jen calonita
pages : [hardcover] 312
favorite character : elsa
What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other?
When a magical accident erases Anna and Elsa’s memories not only of magic, but of each other the sisters are separated for protection. But when Elsa unexpectedly finds herself as a young queen mysterious magic begins to happen and questions of her past start to form. Will the sisters ever be reunited?
Do you want to build a–
Alright, alright, I’ll try to contain myself and not just turn this review into a gigantic sing-a-long. I’m sure we are all familiar with Disney’s Frozen. I’ll just have to let it go.
Disney has this interesting series of Disney Twisted Tales which I don’t think enough people are speaking about. They’re basically written retellings of Disney movies in what-if scenarios. In Conceal, Don’t Feel the what-if is obvious from the very beginning: What if Elsa and Anna grew up separately? What if they didn’t know they were sisters?
Because one of the most important themes in Frozen revolves around familial love and mending a sisterly relationship, I was incredibly curious to see how this new situation would be handled. The book has all the same components that appear in the movie, but they fall into place in different ways. Anna grows up on the outskirts of Arendelle where she encounters a certain ice harvester. Elsa grows up alone and afraid of her growing powers in the palace, meeting a certain ambitious prince with plans of his own. There’s magic at play, lives are at stake, and the kingdom is on the verge of collapse.
I really liked how magic was much more prominent in this novel than it is in the movie (the first one, we know the entire sequel remedies a lot of this). Although the whole troll magic system still isn’t really explained, it plays a huge role in Conceal, Don’t Feel. Honestly, I don’t really like the trolls, but I loved how this book gave them a more pressing need for existing within the context of the story.
That being said, I didn’t really enjoy this journey. Because magic existed at the forefront of this retelling, sometimes the plot suffered from that. There were so many events that happened only because one main character or another had a feeling they needed to be somewhere–basically the magic was leading all of them around. I wanted the characters to have more agency! Where is feisty, funny Anna? Where is regal, commanding Elsa? They seemed to pale in comparison to the forces moving them around, which was a real disappointment.
The writing fell flat for me as well. This book is on the bridge between middle grade and YA and it definitely felt like the writing style suffered from trying to appeal to both audiences. Dialogue was stiff. Scenes dragged. And this is a fairly short book. I really wanted to like it, because I had a lot of fun reading another one of the Disney Twisted Tales, the one based on Aladdin. This just didn’t do it for me.
If you’re looking for a quick Disney read, filled with references to one of the most beloved contemporary Disney movies, go for Conceal, Don’t Feel. Just don’t let those expectations get too high.