Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The past year has become harder for twelve year old twins Alex and Connor. Their father died a year ago, and they no longer have the support they need at home. No one to talk to about Alex's inability to make friends because of her intelligence, no one to tell stories to Connor about his disheartening school performance, no one to help their mother pay bills so she must sell their house and constantly work. The twins' only bright spot is when they're grandmother unexpectedly shows up at their doorstep for their birthday, giving them a family heirloom book which turns out to be a magical portal into a land of fairytales. As Alex and Connor race around the kingdoms trying to gather the different pieces for a spell which may or may not work, they meet all of the characters of the fairytales that their father read to them in happier times, they also discover a little bit more about each other along the way.

The biggest draw for most people about this book is probably the fact that it was written by one of the actors from the show Glee. You might remember from my post about Chris Colfer that he didn't want his first book to be a biography, he wanted it to be about a story he'd grown up telling himself. I think this is admirable.

Chris Colfer takes a lot of the classics and gives them a tweak. He gives Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Goldilocks, continued stories that seem plausible, and while they still have a happily ever after the still have ongoing tribulations that the must overcome (my favorite being Red Riding Hood as a rather delusional airhead ruling as the only elected Queen). There isn't a lot of depth to Chris Colfer's world-building, but I guess that's not really why you would read it. It's mostly interesting because of the interactions the twins have with the fairytales and how the stories have continued. Chris Colfer has done a nice job of staying true to the classic tales of Grimm and Andersen and not incorporating the Disney-fication aspects of them.

Alex and Connor themselves are pretty solidly written, they both have traits that change and grow during their time in the Land of Stories. They balance each other nicely with their ideas and desires, and their more annoying personality flaws are tolerable given their circumstances. The story itself was also solid, nothing earth-shattering, but also nothing horrible. Some parts were a bit obvious, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that Chris Colfer took the easy literary way out. There are some nice little surprises but nothing off the wall.

I guess that that's the summation of this book for me. It was solid. I would recommend it to kids I know, but it probably won't be the first title to pop into my head. It's not that I wouldn't want to recommend it, just that I might not remember to recommend it. It's solid, a good jumping off point for a series, but it isn't enthralling. It's engaging but not mind-blowing. It doesn't push boundaries but it's not trite or mediocre. I'll read the next one, because I truly believe that he has a lot of potential as a writer and will develop with time. So there you go.

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer came out today


  1. Honestly, I'd recommend this to almost anyone, ages 8+. It's a fun, easy read and I'd be a lot happier about kids reading these fairytales than pretty much everything else out there.

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  3. My 9 yr old daughter just finished this today - she has barely been able to put it down. She is now begging me to buy the next in the series. Excellent book.


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