As you may remember, I was a big fan of Melissa de la Cruz’s Isle of the Lost which served as a prequel to Disney Descendants. I am happy to say that her follow-up Return to the Isle of the Lost surpasses her first installment and leaves you anticipating what you hope will be a third novel. (Not to mention the second Disney Descendants film).

Part of the fun of the book is discovering all the fun Disney connections that the Mal, Evie, Carlos, Jay, and other characters come across on both Auradon and the Isle of the Lost. So I would be remiss if I gave too much away. But I will say that there may be reason to believe that Maleficent may be wreaking havoc despite her fate at the end of Descendants. Solving the mystery involves tests the relationships and our heroes’ goodness in both literal and figural ways. Along the way we come across characters from well-known, and lesser-known Disney animated films. It was great to see stories that might not be as well-known giving a brief time in the spotlight.

The novel is a real page-turner filled with cameos to Disney characters from the Disney pantheon and those related to classic and not-so classic characters. What continually impressed me was De la Cruz’s ability to keep the characters’ tone in sync with the film. They feel like they have stepped off the screen and onto the page. She also makes those not in the film, distinctive and memorable. She also keeps the classic yet modern world of Descendants consistent with what we experienced in the first book and telefilm.

The only downside to Return to the Isle of the Lost is that it leaves you wanting another Disney Descendants adventure. With another Descendants film still a bit away, the book did prompt me to watch the Wicked World animated spinoff, which also does a great job expanding the Descendants world. But please do not believe that Return to the Isle of the Lost is one of those books that is just trying to cash in on a known franchise. Melissa de la Cruz gives the story the same care that she gives her award-winning non-franchise work. I cannot recommend the book highly enough.