The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Okay, so I’m not going to lie. I did mostly pick this book because Glee used to be really awesome and Chris Colfer’s character is one of the few characters that are still worth watching. I mean, if he’d written a trashy romance or a nonfiction piece about fairy tales I probably wouldn’t have. But he didn’t, he wrote a kid’s book.
A really cute, sweet, adorable kid’s book.
First, let me get one thing out of the way – this is his first book and it kind of suffers from first book syndrome. I don’t know if that’s a thing or not, but it should be. By first book syndrome I mean that his voice isn’t quite there yet. It’s good but there’s the occasional strange clash of language or a bit too much tell and not enough show (occasionally there are both, one sentence after the other) and just a touch of didactic-ness which I tend to dislike (the teacher bemoaning the watering down of fairy tales for example).
That particularly message (the watering down of fairy tales), which I found very heavy handed in the first few chapters was quite undercut by the story. This book is adorable and, although the main characters do seem to spend a lot of time almost getting eaten, there’s very little of the darkness that tends to come with “original” fairy tales. Also, while listing the famous fairy tale authors I noticed that Perrault was left out, which makes me think that Chris Colfer didn’t do his research into the history of fairy tales very well since I was under the impression that the Brothers Grimm borrowed heavily from Perrault. We just don’t know it ’cause he was French and English is clearly more important. (Mind you, the Brothers Grimm were German…). Whatever. Details that most kids would probably overlook unless they’d taken a university course on children’s lit, or at least done the work for one. I am jealous of those kids for being so smart.
However, the story is so lovely, so cute, so charming, so, to quote one of my university professors, “So sweet it makes your teeth hurt”. She used that as a criticism of course but apparently I don’t mind a little tooth rot. The idea of two kids (twins! shockingly) falling through a book into a world of fairy tales is hardly new (used in a self aware manner in this book) but the world they fall into is just lovely. Cinderella is pregnant with her first child, Snow White is trying to grapple with what her stepmother did to her, Red Riding Hood is struggling with the responsibilities of being the only elected Queen in the land as well as her own heart and Sleeping Beauty is dealing with the reality that because she lived her entire kingdom lost 100 years of their lives. Goldilocks is on the run from the law, Jack is heart broken and there’s a Prince Charming missing. Although each of the princesses (Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty) are too kind to be believable, their struggles are interesting.
And through this semi-dangerous land Alex and Connor have to quest for a series of objects that will get them home. (Not a spoiler – it says this on the back of the book).
Of course I do very much want to spoil the big reveals at the end (some of which I guessed and a few that I didn’t) but I won’t right now. I’ll spoil it when the second book comes out because of course, it’s set up to have a sequel. At least one.
Which I will look forward to. Because that was adorable, and clever in places and, yes the writing could be a little more refined but I forgot about it for huge stretches at a time so it can’t be that bad. A fairy tale about fairy tales. Lovely.
Last movie I watched: Taken. ‘Cause Liam Nesson is awesome. Good action movie, maybe I’ll see the sequel in a year when it’s in the library
Last TV episode I watched: MI5/Spooks. Which is awesome. I mean, I’m not sure I’ve actually watched that many serious spy TV shows but I’m sure that this is one of the best ones EVER. Also, everyone can die. Everyone does die. But it’s still awesome.