We’ve been having a lot of summer fun the last few weeks with family in town and the sun shining. And suddenly, I haven’t posted in almost a week! But I am excited to be back with a review of a fun, new (to me) fantasy series today.
I can’t remember who I first heard about The Land of Stories from, but I have been excited to read this series for a while which I recently learned is already 4 books long! I got the first book in the series for Mother’s Day (my sweet husband knows me so well!). And I got to enjoy it a few weeks ago.
A few initial thoughts:
- This is a great fantasy series. Great read for kids too.
- I really enjoy fairy tale retellings and this is no exception. Colfer cleverly integrates original fairy tales in his new adventure story.
- When I recommend this book to others, I call it a mix of Fablehaven and the first season of Once Upon a Time (before it got complicated and weird). And that usually gets people excited about it.
- I’m really glad there are more books in this series!
- Fun fact: author Chris Colfer was on Glee!
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer follows the adventures of twins Alex and Connor who find themselves in the land where all fairy tales actually happened. In order to return home, they must collect several magical items to use in the wishing spell. And you might recognize several of these items–Cinderella’s glass slipper, a piece of Little Red Riding Hood’s original basket, Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel needle, and more. But they soon learn that a certain Evil Queen is also looking for the items. The search for the items takes the children across the Land of Stories into all the kingdoms ruled by Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and more where they learn more about fairy tales and themselves than they bargained for. Can they find all the magical items in time? Or will they be stuck in the Land of Stories forever?
Alex and Connor were likable and typical protagonists for a children’s fantasy novel. Likable because they come to appreciate and embrace their experiences in the land of stories. And typical because of their reactions to various situations in that land. Alex is a typical brainiac who doesn’t have any friends but finds friendship on their adventures. And Connor is a typical less than ideal student who learns that there are many things in life worth fighting for. My experience with them was positive and predictable. I enjoyed their journey to accepting each other and the fairy tale creatures they meet. I think they are great characters, especially for younger readers to look up to. But they didn’t really surprise me.
I found the Evil Queen to be much more complex than the twins. While I enjoyed getting some of her backstory, I thought her character could have been more developed. We began to see how complex she could be, but I wanted more. I would have also liked more explanation at the end of what happens to her.
What I found more clever was the story and the plot twists in the novel. Fairy tales are well known and super popular for all sorts of adaptations right now. But Colfer manages to create a new and exciting story surrounding these classic tales. The wishing spell is a clever way to guide the twins through the land of stories while also giving us an exciting and fast pace plot. I love the ways the twins interact with so many classic fairy tale characters from Cinderella to Snow White to Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk) to the original Fairy Godmother. We meet these characters after the events of their original tales. So it’s fun to encounter them in their happily ever afters and to see the kind of people they have become. The action is fun and surprising; there are definitely a few twists that I didn’t expect (and won’t share here). This is a book that you can read quickly because the plot moves as quickly as the children do from kingdom to kingdom.
As always, I want to share a few of my favorite quotes.
This one comes from the twins father, who has died in a car crash about a year before the events of the novel take place. He is the most intriguing character in the novel because he has such a vast knowledge of the land of stories and an apt ability to teach the twins life lessons that give them courage and hope. I hope we get to learn more about him and his past in future novels.
“Sometimes we forget about our own advantages because we focus on what we don’t have. Just because you have to work a little harder at something that seems easier to others doesn’t mean you’re without your own talents.”
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, page 50
I also love this one about why fairy tales are important and meaningful. Sometimes, I think we should give stories more credit for teaching us.
“Fairy tales are much more than silly bedtime stories. the solution to almost every problem imaginable can be found in the outcome of a fairy tale. Fairy tales are life lessons disguised with colorful characters and situations.”
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, page 12
And finally some words of wisdom from Sleeping Beauty.
“I suppose that’s why the wishing spell has always intrigued me,” Sleeping Beauty said. “It’s proof that if someone wants something enough, and they’re willing to work for it. The can achieve great things. I keep the spindle as a reminder that even the worst curses cast by the most powerful enchantress can eventually be overcome.”
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, page 296
The ending of the novel is surprising and exciting–like the other plot twists. But I also found it a bit rushed. So much happens in a short amount of time. And we learn a lot about the past that is not discussed in detail yet. Perhaps a little more development would have helped to make it more meaningful.
Overall, a great fantasy novel that has me excited to check out the rest of the series!
Have you read The Land of Stories series?
What other fantasy novels do I need to add to my TBR?