Monday, February 24, 2014

Review | The Land of Stories {The Wishing Spell}

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (#1) by Chris Colfer
Review by Alyssa
July 2012 by Little, Brown Young Readers
438 pages
Amazon + Good Reads

"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 fairy tales. 
"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."
-Good Reads

First and foremost, I have to give a shout out to my friend Kristina (blog, YouTube) for sending me this book. This girl is a Gleek - with a capital G. For those of you who don't know what that term means, it is a fandom name for an avid fan of the TV show Glee. So, think of the biggest  fangirl that you know... and times her enthusiasm by ten... and you have Kristina's love for Glee. And, more specifically, for Darren Criss and Chris Colfer - who play Blaine and Kurt. So it was only natural that Kristina send each of her friends a copy of Colfer's first book... right? Right?! Kristina offered to send me a copy of The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell and I laughingly accepted - who was I to deny her right to spread the gospel of her Lord and savior Chris Colfer? 

And... I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book - I'll just be honest. But I actually did. And dare I say that it's my favorite middle grade book to date? (Note: I don't count Harry Potter as middle grade.)

The Wishing Spell follows the adventures of twin sister and brother, Alex and Conner, after falling through a magical fairy tale book into the fairy tale world. In order to find their way back home, the twins must collect a slew of legendary items (i.e., Cinderella's glass slipper and a lock of Rapunzel's hair) in order to complete the Wishing Spell - a one shot chance at getting their ticket back home. Along the way, Alex and Conner meet a host of famous fairy tale characters but with a twist. 

However, their quest isn't simple by any stretch of the imagination. In addition to procuring the necessary items for the Spell, the twins are in a race against the Evil Queen who has recently broken out of Snow White's prison.  

Simply put, this book was charming. I always enjoy the thought of a fairy tale retelling but enter into the reading experience with an amount of trepidation... Retellings hold so much potential but rarely live up to it. I found the reimaginings of the classic characters to be interesting and very unique. The princesses shed their wide eyed, damsel in distress personas and became lively women who stood apart from one another. 

Colfer was able to deliver two main characters who complimented each other and yet remained true to their middle grade age. Alex is very much the Hermione-esque middle schooler. She is an incredibly serious twelve (are they twelve?) year old, while Conner adds the comic relief. The two foil each other nicely and I liked that Colfer steadily instilled humor into his story. The easiest way to win me over in a book is to hear the author's voice and know that he/she isn't taking him/herself too seriously - and Colfer achieved that through Conner's character. 

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Colfer left the ending open in a fashion that the twins will be able to revisit the fairy tale world again... and I can't wait to see what adventures they get into next.


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