Book Review: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Synopsis: Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change. When the twins' grandmother gives them a fairy-tale book, they have no idea they're about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real.
But as Alex and Conner soon discover, the stories they know so well haven't ended in this magical land - Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother!
The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the legendary Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way?

Number of pages: 438

Rating: 9/10

Overall Impression: So imaginative! I loved seeing what happened to all the classic fairy-tale characters after the "Happily Ever After". Some really did live happily ever after, while some really didn't. There were some giggles as I had expected and some gripping moments which I hoped for. I just really enjoyed it.

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)

So yeah, I definitely bought this because it was Chris Colfer and it was his first book and everything but it really is a lovely book.

And yeah, it is a kid's book, but as I've discussed before on this blog, who cares who the book is aimed at? A book is a book no matter the intended audience, and if you enjoy it, you enjoy it.


Alex and Conner Bailey are the protagonists of the story and Chris Colfer has said they are essentially him. Now, normally you would frown on self-insertion into a story but splitting one's own personality into two people sort of makes it ok, I think. Alex is the studious, smart, careful one. Conner is the more troublesome, smart-aleck, outgoing one. And yeah, you can see traits of Chris in both of them. Either way, they are both likeable, which is always a good thing.

We meet the twins and find out that they spent their early childhood listening to the fairy-tales famous to all children, though not the bastardised Disney ones. The "original" tales, which have a moral point to them. Their grandmother and father both shared these stories with the twins. Unfortunately, the twins have recently lost their father. But at the start of the book, it's the twins' birthday and their grandmother gives them the titular Land of Stories book.

Alex discovers that the book is not all it seems. Initially, she tries to cover up that the book glows. However, of course Conner finds out. And they fall into the book!

The twins find themselves in a new world, full of kings and queens, talking animals and other things that they previously thought had only existed in books. After working out where they are, they need to find a way back and are told about the Wishing Spell and so begins a quest across the land.

This is where Chris Colfer's imagination comes into full play. I personally loved finding out that, for example, that Sleeping Beauty has never slept since she woke from her 100-year slumber, but her kingdom can hardly stay awake, or that Goldilocks' adventure with the bears was masterminded by her best friend, Red Riding Hood.

Though perhaps the best backstory, as well as continuation of a story, was that of the Evil Queen. The Evil Queen also wants to use the Wishing Spell, and at the peak of the story, we find out why. And IMHO, it is brilliant, the highlight of the book.

There is very little I have problems with in this book. Well... apart from the incorrect uses of royal styles such as "Your Royal Majesty" (ack! wrong!) and "His Highness" (also wrong), but not many people get them right. It's "Your Majesty", no royal, when referring to a King or Queen, "Your Royal Highness" when it's a prince/princess. I'll stop now... It's just, I know what it should be, and it grates on me when people get it wrong... *shrug*

I read somewhere (can't remember where right now) that the scraps and problems the twins got into were resolved pretty quickly and easily, which I agree did happen... but it is a children's book aimed at 8-12 year olds. I wouldn't expect a convuluted escape plan or anything like that. It didn't take away from the overall experience of the book and it works for the target audience and TBH, that's what matters if you ask me...

Something that doesn't have anything to do with the writing of the book, but everything to do with the British publisher is that the UK edition of TLOS does not have the illustrated map that is in the US edition. As shown in this Tumblr post, the US edition has the map as an infold. I have to say, I was a little disappointed that my edition does not have the map...

After reading the seemingly behemoth A Game of Thrones, this was a nice, easy, quick read. Less thinking needed, and I like that sometimes! I'd definitely recommend this if you're looking for something for your kids to read, or you like some pure escapism that takes you back to your own childhood. For a first novel, Chris Colfer has pretty much killed it.

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