Monday, August 13, 2012

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories # 1) by: Chris Colfer

Published: July 17th, 2012
The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories # 1)
Written By: Chris Colfer, Illustrated by: Brandon Dorman
Little, Brown Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780316201575

Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairytales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.


   Twins Alex and Conner Bailey are having a rough time since they lost their Dad.  As much as they're trying to do their best, Conner is falling asleep in class and getting in trouble and Alex is retreating even further into herself and her books.  When their Mom has to work on their twelfth birthday, their Grandma comes to stay the night with them and celebrate.  She brings their childhood storybook, The Land of Stories, with her to give to them as a present.  Alex is especially excited, until the book starts reacting weirdly to her.  Determined to explain it through science, Alex begins investigating.  But when Conner confronts her and they both  fall INTO the book, they have bigger problems than who was right or wrong.  Such as the fact that magic is real in this world and so are fairy tales.  But things aren't like our world thinks they are and the twins have to deal with homicidal witches, gangs of wolves and a Frog-man who may be hiding something important.  And when their only way home might be something called the Wishing Spell, Alex and Conner must race to beat the Evil Queen to the ingredients so they can return home.  Will they be stuck in the Land of Stories for good, or will they make it back to their Mom?  Are the twins connected to the magical world even more than they know?  And why does the Evil Queen need the wishing spell?  This was definitely an interesting book.  I didn't even realize until I read the author bio that it was written by the guy who is Kurt on Glee.  I just picked it up because of the major fairy tale elements involved in it.  Goldilocks is a fugitive, Red Riding Hood is vain nitwit whose Grandma runs her kingdom which is being terrorized by a vicious pack of wolves, there are three King Charmings (brothers) and Snow White's stepmother, the Evil Queen, has escaped from the dungeon.  Oh yeah, and there's a frog-man who used to be a Prince! :)  I thought it was fun that Colfer explained the multiple Prince Charmings (Snow White's, Sleeping Beauty's, and Cinderella's) as being brothers.  The hardships the characters faced after their happily ever afters are spotlighted and it makes them more realistic as characters, more fleshed out than in the original stories.  I absolutely fell in love with the Evil Queen's backstory and thought it was wonderful!  I liked the quest the twins went on and thought the plot was well-paced and had a good, cohesive beginning and ending.  Alex is a smart, bookworm know it all, whose starstruck emotions at seeing the fairy tale characters I could identify with.  Conner is a sarcastic, wisecracking kid who is insecure about his lack of book-smarts, but knows a lot more common sense then his sister.  They were very well-drawn characters for such a short book.  The twist that connected Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood and Jack (from the Jack & the Beanstalk story) was absolute genius.  But this book was very middle grade, which means that it was quite below my reading level and not my normal reading material.  I liked it, but it was overly simplistic at certain points and it did just make me a little more ambivalent than I might have been.  The family revelation that the twins discovered wasn't completely unexpected, but it was well written.  I am curious to read the next book in the series and I truly enjoyed this one very much.  I would recommend it to readers who love fairy tales and don't mind reading middle-grade fiction.

VERDICT:  3.95/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review.   This book became available for purchase on July 17th, 2012.*

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