My friend Kim, over at Onthewingsofbooks, was able to pick up an ARC for Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, but she graciously waited for me to get my pre-ordered copy to read it so that we could read it together!
What follows is our joint review of the book! Enjoy!
Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt on Glee, recently released a book called Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. The book is a middle grade book about two twins named Alex and Conner. They are having a difficult time at school and at home, but that all changes when they find themselves transported into a book of fairy tales. Now Alex and Conner must navigate their way through the Land of Stories collecting the different ingredients needed to create the Wishing Spell, which they need in order to find their way back home.
Courtney: I was really looking forward to this one. I’m not a huge Glee fan, I haven’t watched the show in a really long time, but I do like Chris Colfer and I wanted to support him.
Kim: I had no real interest in reading this book until I saw him at BEA in June. He was so excited and passionate about this project that it made me want to read it, even though I don’t usually like to read middle grade books.
Courtney: I don’t seek out middle grade books, but I don’t usually have a problem with them.
Kim: What I sometimes find with middle grade books is that they “talk down” to the reader a bit, and it can be hard to identify with the characters. Although it helped with this book that so many of the characters were based off fairy tales which reminded me of the Disney movies that I love.
Courtney: I know exactly what you mean about being “talked down” to. I felt that a bit in the scene when Alex and Conner first put together the list for the Wishing Spell, and they just kept repeating it over and over again. After the third time I was like “Yeah, okay, I get it!”
Kim: I did try hard to keep it in perspective when I read it that he didn’t actually write it for someone in there 30’s. So I tried to focus in on what happens after the fairy tale part and getting to know Alex and Conner.
Courtney: Ugh, Alex was such a goody goody. I tried to hold out hope for her but by the end she was really wearing on me.
Kim: I consider myself a “good girl” and for the sake of all good girls out there, I wanted to smack her upside the head! It was annoying that she was so completely perfect at the age of eleven. So, I couldn’t stand Alex but I loved Conner.
Courtney: Conner was my absolute favorite character! I just loved him because he had so many funny moments! Like when he wished to make that one creature a vegetarian so that it wouldn’t be tempted to eat them! That was genius! As far as the fairy tale characters go, I didn’t particularly care for Red Riding Hood at first, but by the end she had grown on me. I’m glad that Colfer made her the princess that was bratty. I’ve always thought that Goldilocks was the most greedy of the fairy tale characters but I think that might have been more on the predictable side so I’m glad that he gave those qualities to Red.
Kim: I agree, and I also really enjoyed the “love triangle” that Colfer created for Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, and Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk. Goldilocks was my favorite but I did like the fact that Red Riding Hood had issues.
Courtney: Yeah, but Red Riding Hood did get to rule over my favorite kingdom in the book. It had so many of the different fairy tale elements in one place and I loved the different monuments all around town. Like the sign the sign that read “In Memory Of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. You Were A Liar But You Were Loved.”
Kim: My favorite kingdom was Red Riding Hood’s too. It had more fun elements in it. I was disappointed that Charming Kingdom was so boring. Cinderella is one of my favorites and I wanted a little more of her. As far as the ending goes, I did feel it was a bit too predictable. Overall, I would say that Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell was cute, though probably a little too cute for me. I only rated it a two.
Courtney: I think one of the things we both said was that we wanted the book to be amazing, but it was really just average. It was fine for what it was but it definitely wasn’t epic. I gave it a three.
Neither Kim or I like to include spoilers on our reviews, but we both had certain issues with the ending for some of the story lines that we just could not ignore.
Read on at your own risk....
Kim: Well neither of us liked the ending with the Evil Queen.
Courtney: No. Colfer tries to set up a theme of “villains are mostly people villainized by circumstance” but I wasn’t buying it. That is fine for the minor criminals but not for the ones that are truly evil.
Kim: I hated that whole story line. It was way to message-y in such an obvious way that I literally rolled my eyes. Sometimes bad people are bad people, and that’s ok. But I would say the ending to the Goldilocks story line probably bothered me the most. It didn’t make any sense to have her whole story come down to the fact that she was on the run for breaking into the home of the three bears.
Courtney: I know what you mean. Goldilocks has a moment with Jack where she says that she can’t stop running because it doesn’t matter what initial crime she committed because since then she has robbed and cheated and even killed. I think it is fine in stories when authors use the angle of “you accused me of lying and that forced me to become a liar” “you accused me of cheating and that forced me to become a cheater.” But to say “you accused me of breaking and entering and that forced me to become a killer”, I mean that is just ridiculous!
Kim: Exactly!!!! It just did not make any sense to do all those bad things rather than be punished for a simple B&E.