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What: Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari

Who: Scholastic Australia

When: July 1st 2022

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Scholastic Australia for review.

From once upon a time to happily ever after-all in a week! Head-in-the-clouds romantic Madison and driven pragmatist Lanie are unlikely best friends, but the two would do anything for each other. So when Madison’s life starts to fall apart, Lanie agrees to join Madison for the test run of Disney’s newest vacation experience: Happily Ever Island “an immersive vacation destination, where adults can become their favourite Disney character for a week.

Madison will go as the iconic Princess herself, Cinderella, and Lanie will be Merida. It’s not Lanie’s idea of fun, but she knows Madison needs her, and besides, she could use the break from her strenuous workload anyway. And maybe she’ll get to shoot things. But once on the island, Lanie and Madison begin to drift apart. Madison finds herself either missing out or messing up hero moments, and forever running into their annoyingly perfect (and distractingly cute) vacation’s coordinator, Val.

Meanwhile, Lanie unexpectedly finds herself swept up in the magic of it all as Merida. She strikes up a secret romance with Prince Charming but there’s no telling whether he’s just playing a part. With friendship, romance and adulting all on the line, Lanie and Madison experience a whirlwind week full of laughter, tears and more than just a touch of Disney magic.

Happily Ever Island is a book that I absolutely needed in my life as soon as I found out about it! A book about a new Disney Park where you get to be a Disney character for a week and it’s queer? My HEART SOARED.

And I’m happy to say Happily Ever Island did not disappoint. I don’t often read fun books, and Happily Ever Island was a lot of fun. It follows two narrators: Madison – the Disney fan who wins a competition to be one of the first guests at the new immersive Disney Park, and Lanie – Madison’s best friend who gets reluctantly dragged along after Madison’s girlfriend dumps her.

I really liked reading chapters from both narrators because each girl gave something different to the story. I adored Madison’s absolute and never-ending love for Disney, and I related a lot to Lanie’s anxiety. Each girl, while having a lot of fun at the new park, was also going through some inner turmoil about their futures. Madison isn’t sure what she wants to study or what career she wants to have after college. Lanie has been on the path to becoming a doctor for as long as she can remember, but what she doesn’t know is if she actually wants to be one. I think both of these things are relatable to readers of the same age (and above). Not everyone has their future perfectly figured out, and I liked the exploration of that in Happily Ever Island!

One of the best aspects of this book was the park itself. I did have to suspend my disbelief because the logistics of it all made little to no sense, but the idea is just so magical I didn’t really mind. Being a Disney character for a week -wearing their clothes, living in their castles, experiencing one of their iconic “hero” moments? I need to go there *crying heart eyes* From the blurb, I thought that Lanie might have been a bit of a grey cloud, but she ended up really enjoying her time at the park, which was really lovely.

Both girls ended up having really sweet romances in this book! I liked both love interests, and thought they complemented each girl’s personalities really well. Val is a no-fuss, down to earth girl which meshed well with Madison’s exuberant, head in the clouds demeanour. Prince Charming was kind and considerate, which really helped Lanie when her anxiety made something difficult for her. I enjoyed reading about these sweet and supportive relationships!

All in all, Happily Ever Island is perfect for Disney fans – it has everything you could want: copious Disney references, recreated moments from the movies, sweet romance, and lots of fun!

© 2022, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

parental abandonment, anxiety/panic attacks

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Posted on: August 17, 2022 • By: Chiara

2 Responses to Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari: Perfect for Disney Fans

  1. Yep, I NEED this book!! Thanks for introducing it to me! 😍

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