[The Enchantress Returns]: A Review

Happy Saturday, all! It’s actually pretty chilly here today so we have spent the day inside cleaning and watching movies. Today I am back with a catch up review of a book that, honestly, disappointed me a bit.

I have always really enjoyed fantasy novels. I rave about Harry Potter enough for you to probably know that. For me, these types of novels are great to get me excited about reading after a bit of a lull or just to make me feel accomplished for finishing a book more quickly. Usually, I can whip through a YA or children’s fantasy novel in a few days.

I read the first Land of Stories book last fall and really enjoyed the clever twists on classic fairy tales. Check out my review here. When I was in the mood for another fantasy novel, I grabbed the next installment in the series at the library. I read it fast, as I expected. But I was unexpectedly disappointed.

What I enjoyed about this book is the quick pace–adventures happening on every page. And I also like that it is a quick read and easy to get into. The reading level is somewhere between children’s and middle grade fiction so that keeps it easy.

Initial Thoughts:

  • I am beginning to feel about this story like I do about the TV show Once Upon a Time. There is all this potential for a clever and exciting series, but it doesn’t live up to the expectations of the first book (or season).
  • I think this book should have been shorter. It reminded me of Harry Potter #5–rather long winded and could have been a better plot with fewer unnecessary details.
  • I liked the first book’s plot, but I felt like I basically got the same plot here. More on this later.
  • The enchantress is a seriously vengeful character. Yikes. More on her later too.

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The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer is the second installment in the Land of Stories series. It again follows the adventures of Alex and Conner Bailey, twins who have ties to both our world and the magical Land of Stories. When their mother is kidnapped, they must find a way back into the Land of Stories to save her. The evil enchantress (who cursed Sleeping Beauty) has their mother hostage as part of her plot to take over the Land of Stories. With the help of some old friends including Froggy, Jack, Goldilocks, and Queen Red Riding Hood, the siblings set off on another adventure to gather magical items. This time, they need to collect fast in order to save their mother and  both worlds the twins love. Can they outsmart and overcome the evil enchantress?

Alex and Conner have matured some since we first met them at the start of the series. They have a new sense of identity and purpose because of their adventures in the Land of Stories. I especially like that Conner has started writing down their adventures and is praised at school for his stories. But at times, they still irritated me. Their anger then quick acceptance of Bob was underdeveloped. And the ending (won’t give away details here) made me upset. Yes, they go on another fabulous adventure and manage to save the world (sorry if that gives away the plot). But sometimes things seem a bit too easy for them to fix.

I was disappointed in the plot because it is basically a repeat of the first book. It goes something like this. They seem to be in an impossible situation. They find a magical way to solve their problems. They go searching for magical items to fulfill that quest. And they succeed despite the magnitude and the time constraints of the quest. It was clever in the first book. In this one, I wanted something different. Because they had so many places to visit, the specific destinations did not feel equally developed. Some interactions were very brief (like the Snow Queen) and some more interesting (like Cinderella’s step mother). But the twins and their friends always succeed and always get the item they came for. It’s all a bit too easy. I would have liked to see a new adventure that doesn’t center around a quest for magical items.

While the enchantress is certainly an intense villain, I would have liked more details about her background. We get her basic history, but I still wanted a bit more on why she was so vengeful and angry at the whole world. Yes, she wasn’t treated well. But she hates everyone no matter if they tried to show her kindness or not. I would say that she isn’t a complex villain. In fact, she is rather simple–just pure evil. And I wanted more complexities to her character.

I have several issues with the ending of this novel as well. Without giving away details, suffice it to say that I had issues with the ease of Alex and Conner beating the enchantress (it’s a kid’s novel; you knew that was going to happen). I also had big issues with the surprise twist at the end. That would just not happen so easily. And as a mother, I would not be okay with it.

Perhaps, I was just not the right audience for this book. Because I am not an elementary school student, perhaps I judge the juvenile writing and simplistic characters too harshly. Perhaps it was not a good time for me to read this book. Or perhaps, it just wasn’t my style. Regardless, I am not running to the library to check out the next book; I have no desire to continue the series.

But all this being said, it might be right for you with the right expectations. And I still would recommend the first book in the series.

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What do you think of the Land of Stories series?

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