Return to the Isle of the Lost—”The Descendants” Series

Return to the Island of the Lost cover


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Book Review

In *Return to the Isle of the Lost* by Melissa De La Cruz, Mal and her friends return to the Isle of the Lost to stop their evil parents’ newest plot to destroy Auradon. It is the second book in the “Descendants” series.

Plot Summary

In a prologue, the reader learns that Mal, Evie, Jay and Carlos, the children of Maleficent, Snow White’s Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella de Vil, respectively, have been sent to the kingdom of Auradon to learn how to be good. After growing up on the Isle of the Lost, a land filled with villains and rotten food, Auradon seems like paradise. The food is good and they get to study actual subjects in school, instead of classes in how to plot evil schemes.

Their parents had allowed them to go to Auradon in hopes that their children would steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand and use it to free them from the Isle of the Lost. At the coronation of Queen Belle and King Beast’s son, Prince Ben, it was the Fairy Godmother’s own daughter that stole the wand and freed the villains. Maleficent turned into a dragon and tried to claim the wand for herself. Mal and her friends stood up to her. Maleficent was turned into a harmless lizard and locked under guard, while Mal and the others returned to their classes at Auradon Prep.

Jay and Carlos play on the school’s tourney team and are looking forward to the big game against the players from Neverland. Mal and Evie are anticipating the fun they will have at the big dance after the game. All four have made new friends in Auradon and are disturbed when they each receive an anonymous note telling them to return to the Isle of the Lost before the new moon rises.

Meanwhile, King Ben is also looking forward to the tourney game and the big dance since it means he and Mal can spend time together. However, recent events in Auradon may get in the way. The kingdom has been plagued with reoccurring earthquakes, and Merlin the Wizard informs him that the kingdom of Camelot has been terrorized by a mysterious beast. As they have not been able to trap it, Merlin asks for permission to use magic to capture the creature.

Magic has been outlawed in the kingdom as it is considered too dangerous. Ben refuses to grant his permission, but he travels to Camelot to further assess the situation. He is very worried when, on his third night of hunting the beast, he discovers it is a huge purple dragon. He fears it could somehow be Maleficent.

Mal and her friends discuss the separate messages they have received. Carlos discovers something on the Dark Net. It is a forum called the Anti-Heroes movement. It has their pictures with a red *X* over each of their faces. Carlos figures the villains are rallying against them because they defeated Maleficent. He thinks those that join the club might try to take over Auradon. He has cracked their code and discovered the group will be meeting at Evie’s old house this Saturday. They decide to sneak away from the homecoming dance by pretending to be sick, and then make their way secretly to the Isle of the Lost to find out who is involved, although they suspect it is their parents.

As they make their secret getaway, they run into King Ben, returning home from Camelot. Mal explains the notes and their suspicions about their parents. She had not wanted to get him in trouble so had not told him of their plans. He agrees they should go investigate but asks her to keep in touch via social media. He informs them about the weird weather phenomenon happening around the land: earthquakes, sandstorms and hurricanes. Ben also tells them about the dragon in Camelot. Mal insists it cannot be her mother since Maleficent is still a tiny lizard under glass, and her magic staff is safely locked in a museum.

Once they arrive on the Isle of the Lost, the four friends split up. Jay heads to his father’s Junk Shop while Evie and Carlos head to their houses. Each finds their home deserted, but their parents left their prized possessions behind as if they planned on returning. Mal, however, finds her home ransacked, except for her room. It has been left in pristine condition. An old friend, Mad Maddy, finds Mal in the house and tells her how everyone saw Mal beat Maleficent so no one wants to risk making her angry by stealing her things. Mal and Maddy head into town to get something to eat.

King Ben heads over to Charmington, as the dragon has now been spotted in that area. Upon his arrival, he learns that another strange creature was spotted in Cinderellasburg. It appeared to be a large purple snake, and it stole three eggs. Fortunately, it left a scale behind. Ben has learned from Sleeping Beauty’s fairies that they can determine the history and possibly the identification of any beast if they have a piece of it to analyze.

Mal and her friends return to Evie’s house as they know that is where the Anti-Heroes meeting will be held. Although scared at first, they soon learn the Anti-Heroes is actually a group in support of them. Yen Sid, a professor at their old school, organized the group after Mal and the others defeated Maleficent. The villains were shocked to learn that good is more powerful than evil and want to learn how to be good, too.

Yen Sid teaches them that the dome used to cover the Isle of the Lost and keep the villains from using their magic created tremendous pressure in the atmosphere. The magic eventually pushed itself underground where it carved the Endless Catacombs of Doom, a maze of magical lands. Some believe one of the tunnels may lead from the Isle of the Lost to Auradon.

Yen Sid had tried to warn King Beast before Ben’s coronation, but Jafar, Evil Queen and Cruella intercepted his letter. When Maleficent broke the dome, the others escaped into the tunnels to try and find a way to Auradon. They are also looking for their evil talismans that sparked to life at the same time. The talismans have been growing with power and are the cause of the earthquakes, hurricanes and sandstorms. Yen Sid gives the teens a rough map of the catacombs and tells them that, as their parents’ heirs, only they will be able to find the talismans if their parents have not already.

In Neverland, the fairies analyze the serpent scale King Ben brought to them. Although they do not have a record in the computer, it does however, match one recently brought in from the dwarfs. It appears the dragon/serpent has been using their mining tunnels to hide. Even though it is not Maleficent, it is using powerful magic to shape shift between the two creatures. The fairies warn Ben that he must be prepared to use magic if he is going to stop it.

Mal and her friends find the Catacombs of Doom and begin their search for the talismans. Evie must climb a toxic tree to claim the golden apple, her mother’s talisman. Once she plucks it, she is lured into taking a bite. She has a vision of the magic mirror showing all of her friends abandoning her. She knows it is not true and tells it she is surrounded by her friends. The mirror shatters, and Evie wakes up.

Jay overcomes the temptation to leave his friends to gain all the riches he desires. By doing so, he obtains his father’s magical staff. Carlos must conquer his fear of his mother to get her magical ring. When he does, he must then resist her taunts to use its power to kill her. He stands up to her and is immediately freed from the vision. Mal climbs Maleficent Mountain to obtain a dragon’s egg. While the others had to succeed on their own, Mal’s test is to call on help from her friends. They save her from falling off the mountain.

Once all the talismans are found, the four friends find their way back into the tunnels. They run into King Ben and Merlin who have been searching for the dragon. Suddenly the tunnel fills with a purple mist that takes the form of Madam Mim, an old witch nemesis of Merlin’s.

Mim turns herself into a dragon and threatens to roast them all. Mal convinces her friends they should not use their talismans as it would make the evil in them stronger. Ben draws Excalibur and holds the sword to the dragon’s heart. Mim dissolves into a purple mist again, and Merlin uses his magic to send her back to the Isle of the Lost.

Life returns to normal in Auradon. Jafar, Evil Queen and Cruella have been sent back to the Isle of the Lost, and Maleficent is still a lizard. The teens agree they will turn their talismans over to Fairy Godmother when she returns from her trip to Cinderella’s ball. The friends realize, however, that they left the remote control for the magical dome on the Isle. Although it is broken, they know the goblins can repair it. They know they must prepare themselves for a battle with the villains from the Isle.

Christian Beliefs

Other than a glancing reference to a baby’s christening, there is no reference to God. With the Dragon’s Egg talisman in her possession, Mal is told she can wield all the forces of h—. Although not technically stated as a Christian belief, there is a theme throughout the book that good is more powerful than evil. (But this good is not tied to God.)

Other Belief Systems

Auradon and the Isle of the Lost are inhabited by fairy-tale characters with magical powers. In Auradon, the residents do not use magic as a rule because they understand it can create bigger problems. On the Isle of the Lost, a protective dome keeps the villains from using their magic.

When the dome was temporarily lifted, however, Maleficent immediately turned herself into a dragon and flew to Auradon to try and take the Fairy Godmother’s wand, thereby insuring she would be free forever. Mal, Jay, Carlos and Evie stood up to her and defeated her. Maleficent was transformed into a small lizard, locked in a glass cage and kept under guard to make sure she does not escape.

Yen Sid remembers the time when the gods from Olympus used to play against his team in a game called tourney. Jay tells him that the children of those gods now attend Auradon Prep and so are his teammates.


Because the dome over the Isle of the Lost keeps the villains from using their magic, that power built up and found a way to release itself by carving underground tunnels. These caverns below the Isle are magical and hold the lost talismans of Cruella, Jafar, Evil Queen and Maleficent.

Mal and her friends must find and destroy these talismans before their parents lest the power they contain be released again to do evil. Carlos wonders if the talismans are cursed to prevent people from touching them. He remembers Maleficent’s staff being cursed so that anyone who touched it would sleep for 1,000 years.

Aladdin’s genie and his daughter have the ability to grant people three wishes. Jay “accidently” wishes for the keys to the royal limousine and they appear in his pocket. Jay tells Carlos not to be afraid of ghosts because they might try to scare you but are only made of air.

Madam Mim is able to use magic to transform herself into a comical looking but dangerous dragon and a huge serpent. Merlin uses his magic to banish her back to the Isle of the Lost.

A character wishes another good luck.

Authority Roles

For the most part, the teens in this novel are left without parental supervision. Although only 16, Ben’s parents, Beast and Belle, have abdicated their power to him and have left on an extended vacation. Mal and her friends live in the dormitory of Auradon Prep and do not have contact with their parents, other than Mal’s occasional visits to her mother, now a lizard.

All of the villain kids have issues with their parents. Carlos is terrified of Cruella because of the emotional abuse she heaped on him. Mal, Jay and Evie know they are disappointments to their parents because they do not share their evil or selfish goals.

Profanity & Violence

The word h— is used not as a profanity but in the name of several places on the Isle of the Lost — H— Hall and H—- Street.

A student is jealous of Jay’s talents on the tourney field and pushes him to the ground. Jay gets a black eye in the scuffle but is not seriously hurt. King Ben talks to the bully and asks him to be kinder to Jay.

Although a dragon terrorizes the land of Camelot, it limits its destruction to gardens and the theft of livestock.

Mad Maddy lures Mal into a trap as revenge for the nasty things Mal did to her as a child. Maddy and other villains push Mal into crocodile infested waters. Evie uses her high heels to smack someone in the head while trying to rescue Mal. She and another girl pull each other’s hair and wrestle on the ground. Carlos manages to save Mal before she is eaten by the crocodiles.

Carlos has a vision in which he must tackle his mother and take a ring off her finger. She tells him to use its power of suggestion to have her jump off the roof, but he does not obey her.

Mal is frightened by a vulture while on the top of cliff and falls over the edge. She manages to hang on but is only saved with the help of her friends.

Sexual Content

Other than hugging each other, Mal and Ben do not show any public displays of affection.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments

Alcohol: Although not specifically labeled as such, it is intimated that pumpkin juice is an alcoholic drink. There are pictures of members of the tourney team chugging it.


Stealing: Jay takes the royal limousine without permission, although he intends to bring it back.


Lying: Mal and her friends lie and say they are getting a stomach bug in order to leave the dance early. Evie sets up their social media accounts to send posts throughout the weekend, telling people how sick they are and to stay away. Mad Maddy lies to Mal about being her friend. She actually wants to hurt Mal. Various members of the Anti-Hero club lie in order to keep Mal and her friends in the dark until they are all assembled.

Television tie-in: The Descendants is a series of made-for-TV movies on the Disney Channel, which portrays this story and others in the series.