The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

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The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

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Buy The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Twins Alex and Connor are magically transported to the Land Of Stories, where they need to find several magical items if they wish to return home.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781907411755

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Twins Alex and Connor Bailey have had it tough recently. Their father was killed in a tragic accident and their mother has to work all hours to make ends meet. They even lost their house, as the family could not afford to live there anymore. Things are not completely hopeless though. They have a wonderful grandmother who always seems to be there when they need her most and a special birthday gift from her is about to send them on an adventure that they will never forget: a trip to the enchanting Land of Stories.

Colfer, of Glee fame, has created an impressive and believable fantasy world as a setting for his first book. The Land of Stories is home to all of the familiar fairy tale characters and is split up into neighbouring kingdoms, each ruled by a Queen and her King Charming . The story revolves around the twins’ quest to find several items needed to create a wishing spell that will send them back home. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones searching for the items....

As well as the traditional characters, such as Snow White, Rapunzel and the Evil Queen, Colfer creates some memorable characters of his own, particularly the villains. Malumclaw, the leader of the Big Bad Wolf pack is truly terrifying and the mute huntress, daughter of the original huntsman, is ruthless and dark to the core.

However, the book is not without its flaws, which seem to be due to Colfer’s lack of writing experience. The book did not contain much in the way of descriptive prose and I found his writing style inconsistent throughout. Most of the time, the book has a Blytonesque traditionally wholesome feel, in keeping with the fairy tale theme. However, Colfer seems unable to keep this voice up for long periods, leading to the rather unwelcome addition of phrases such as: Don’t piss off your neighbours and If I were Cinderella, none of this crap would be happening!, which can cause some awkwardness when reading the book to a 7 year old child at bedtime! There are also quite a few suggestive references in the text, and although the majority will go over the heads of the target audience, I wondered why Colfer included them in the first place.

The first part of the story seems to condescendingly suggest that these are the 'true' versions of the tales as imagined by Grimm and that corporations such as Disney have bastardised (yes, it really does use that term) fairy tales by giving them happy endings and adding talking animals. And yet who is the first faitytale character that the children meet? A talking frog called Froggy. And while we are on the subject of 'true' fairy tales, the very inclusion of the Evil Queen as a main character in the story seems to contradict Grimm’s original ending which has the fair Snow White forcing her to dance to her death in a pair of hot metal slippers at her wedding...

Despite the issues that I had with the book, I did genuinely enjoy the story, especially the quest for the items and I found it a real page-turner. The ending was well thought out and although perhaps a little 'Deus Ex Machina' in style, worked well and opened up the possibility of sequels. Colfer is something of a rough diamond; he is full of wonderfully creative ideas and a naturally talented storyteller but needs to polish his writing style in order to convey his ideas to best effect. I look forward to what he comes up with next.

Fairy Tale fans will love Magical Princess Stories by Margaret Mayo, Geraldine McCaughrean, Rose Impey, Andrew Matthews, Jane Ray, Ian Beck, Angela Barrett, Emma Chichester Clark and Alan Snow whereas those who prefer their stories a little more Grimm, may enjoy the dark Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

Buy The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer at Amazon.com.

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