"The tale is told as if it's happening once upon a dream: the lovely maiden meets her handsome prince in the woods. The story has been told many times, and in many ways. But always the maiden finds out that she is a princess-a princess who has been cursed by a dark fairy to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. Though her three good fairies try to protect her, the princess succumbs to the curse. But the power of good endures, as her true love defeats the fire-breathing dragon and awakens the princess with true love's first kiss. The two live happily ever after. And yet this is only half the story. So what of the dark fairy, Maleficent? Why does she curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil."
The plot of the book jumps back and forth in time, recounting moments in Maleficent's childhood and teen years, her years before cursing Aurora, and the days after Aurora falls into her cursed slumber.
As a very small child, Maleficent was living in a tree in the Fairylands, being raised by crows. A fairy (nicknamed "Nanny") discovers Maleficent in the tree and is shocked at her abandonment. Nanny decides to take Maleficent home and raise her as her daughter. As Maleficent grows up, Nanny sees that the young fairy is exceptionally skilled in magic, and enrolls Maleficent in the Fairy Academy, of which Nanny is the headmistress. Due to her horns and her odd appearance, Maleficent is an outcast at the Fairy Academy. She is always the target of ridicule and scorn from three of her classmates, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Maleficent's adoptive aunt and teacher, the Fairy Godmother, also dislikes her and feels that Maleficent is evil and Nanny should have just left her in the tree.
Nanny realizes that Maleficent has a lot of potential and allows her to study forms of magic that were not taught at the Academy. She also introduces Maleficent to her good friends, there odd sisters named Lucinda, Ruby, and Martha. witches who perform very dark magic and are notorious for ruining people's lives. Eventually, Nanny realizes that Maleficent's potential for magic is far too great for the Academy and pulls her out of the school. Maleficent then learns more forms of dark magic at home from various old books provided by Nanny and the Odd Sisters.
Maleficent expresses to Nanny her desire to take the fairy exam and become a wish-granting fairy. Nanny is hesitant but allows Maleficent to take the test. The next day, Maleficent's sixteenth birthday, the fairy exams are held. Maleficent is assigned a charge, a young Snow White, and has to protect the young princess from her stepmother. After destroying the Queen's mirror, Maleficent returns to the courtyard of the Academy, where everyone is waiting for the fairies taking the exam to finish. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather soon return from their exam and accuse Maleficent of sabotaging them, as unbeknownst to them, their charge had shapeshifted into Maleficent and attacked the three fairies for abducting Maleficent's raven, Diablo. This angers Maleficent, who transforms into her dragon form, and goes on a rampage, attacking several fairies. During the rampage, Maleficent mistakenly believes she had killed Nanny and flees in grief, remaining in her dragon form for many years.
After years fighting off brave souls as a dragon, Maleficent reverts to her natural form, and eventually settles into a castle once owned by Hades on the Forbidden Mountain, becoming a recluse. Eventually the Odd Sisters find her and persuade her to perform a spell that would allow her to have a child that would have all of Maleficent's best aspects. Maleficent agrees, and the spell is performed, creating her daughter, Aurora. However, the spell drains all of Maleficent's good aspects, and she becomes fully evil. Realizing she could never love her daughter, she gives Aurora up and the girl is eventually given to King Stefan and Queen Leah and assigned as the charge of Flora, Fauna and Merryweather.
After Aurora is placed into the deep sleep from touching the spindle, Maleficent sets out to find the Odd Sisters and ask for their assistance in preventing Aurora from waking up. She journeys to the Morningstar Kingdom, where the Odd Sisters were put into a deep slumber as well after the death of Ursula. Maleficent eventually confronts Nanny and her allies. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather later arrive with the Fairy Godmother and learn the truth about Maleficents origins. Angered and thinking Nanny had betrayed her, Maleficent attacks Princess Tulip, but is soon taken by the Fairy King, Oberon and his allies, the Tree Lords. Maleficent battles Oberon and the Tree Lords and eventually escapes back to her own kingdom. Maleficent then engages in the final battle with Prince Philip and dies when she is stabbed with the Sword of Truth.