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

One of my friends from college is a huge fan of Chris Colfer. So I remember when this book came out I felt like I was being buried in press and signing info for when he was on his book tour. I wasn’t particularly interested when it came out. To be fairly honest I was a little bitter. He seemed like an already successful actor/musical performer and to suddenly be an acclaimed published author made me jealous. So I didn’t read it. Even though it seemed like it would’ve been a book I would’ve enjoyed. Until of course, I found it at an Aladdin and decided, why not, let’s see what all the fuss had been about.

The book stars a set of twins. At first I was surprised since the last book I’d read staring a set of twins going on an adventure had left me highly disappointed. The Land of Stories follows Alex and Connor. Alex is a great student. She’s essentially class pet and especially a star in her English class. Connor on the other hand has a hard time staying awake for his classes but while he sleeps through classes he tends to make it up with his social life, something Alex is lacking. Both of them though are quite knowledgeable about fairy tales. Not the remakes or Disney-fied versions, but the actual originals with all their gruesome details and sad endings. They learned them from their father who owned a bookstore and was a wonderful influence in their lives as well as at their grandmother.

Now however they’re struggling. Their father passed away, suddenly, and they miss him a great deal. Their mother is working a lot of extra shifts so they barely ever get to see her. For their birthday their grandmother comes to visit and gives them the book she always use to read to them from The Land of Stories and Alex learns there is something strange about the book. Sounds keep coming from it and it glows. Eventually she and her brother realize things can disappear into it and through an accident they fall into the book and into the world the stories from their childhood came from. Only despite how old the stories are it seems not too long has passed since the end of many fairy tales like Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. The children end up meeting a  cursed talking frog man and he sends them on quest with a journal as their guide to all the ingredients to cast the wishing spell a spell that will grant anything their heart desires. It leads them throughout the kingdoms meeting all their heroes and even some villains from stories they knew as well as how sometimes there is more to a story then what everyone knows.

I really really enjoyed this book. It was refreshing. The twins didn’t make stupid mistakes and instead were armed with all the knowledge from all the fairy tales they had read and were generally able to use that knowledge to be creative in getting themselves out of sticky situations. I liked the realistic fangirling of the twins when they got to meet a character from their childhood.

They were standing next to Cinderella! And she had a sense of humor!

 It reminded me a lot of The 10th kingdom, especially the beginning. Where you start of in a cell with the Evil Queen has been kept. But I was so hooked that I didn’t really care, I found the characters sympathetic and interesting and I liked them and I liked the characters they interacted with. Plus like any good fairy tale book it was chocked full of good quotes like

A villain is just a victim whose story hasn’t been told.

Which I feel like is maybe one of my favorite re-tellings of fairytales, when the villains story gets to be told and while they did do terrible things you kinda get why and how they got to that point. It doesn’t excuse those terrible things they did but you get it. And the fact that was something that got peppered into the story delighted me. Because not only are the twins on a hunt for the ingredients for a wishing spell but they’re also competing with the Evil Queen for it because the spell can only be used one more time.

“The world will always choose convenience over reality. It’s easier to hate, blame, and fear than it is to understand. No one wants the truth; they want entertainment”

My curiosity with this book, which is a series, is now what the rest of the series is about. The book tied everything up very neatly in a way I found rather satisfying. I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Do you have any books that were popular that you didn’t want to read and then ended up enjoying?

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