The town close to where I was staying on holiday had a book shop. And every time I went in I picked up The Wishing Spell, read the blurb, sighed and then put it back down again. I really wanted to buy it – fairytales, magic and comparisons to Narnia sounded right up my street. But I was sceptical. The author was Chris Colfer, star of Glee and I had suspicions that he was cashing in on his fame and had ghost written this entire book. Still the urge to buy overcame me and by the end of my trip it was safely in my bag. I am so glad I picked The Wishing Spell up. Its a great opener to a series and I will be reading more! Summary from Goodreads :
‘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 fairytales.
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.’
The Wishing Spell focuses on Alex, a slightly homework and book obsessed girls who struggles to fit in at school and Conner, the class joker who isn’t quite on top of his school work. Both are finding it difficult to cope after the death of their father so when their grandmother shows up on their birthday and gifts them her beloved book, The Land of Stories they are ecstatic! But soon Conner begins to notice that his sister is acting strange and when he startles her so much that she falls into the book, he knows he must follow. What follows is an adventure through fairytales featuring characters such as Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, some wolves and of course the Evil Queen. In order to get back home they must find the ingredients to The Wishing Spell.
First of all, Chris Colfer is 22. 22, and already a published author! And I think for his first book, The Wishing Spell is a great achievement! Sure, sometimes the dialogue is a little clunky and sometimes I felt he described things in slightly too much detail but all in all, he’s got a great writing style, reminiscint slightly of C. S Lewis -who you can tell reading the book he is a big fan of. He characters were well crafted and likeable and I loved his twists on fairytale characters – Goldilocks being a career criminal was my favourite. I think maybe the kingdoms themsleves could have being a bit more developed and I would have loved it if Alex and Conner had more time to explore them.
I am 19, and way out of the middle grade agre range that Colfer was writing but I do feel that the plot and sometimes the writing was very simplistic – Colfer could have made it maybe a bit more complicated and challenging for the reader. The book is long for middle grade – nearly 500 pages and I feel that the middle graders that are going to see a 500 page book and immediatley want to read it are going to love reading! What I am saying is it may be too long a book for those who aren’t as confident reading and too simplistic for those that are.
Having said that, it’s the idea and the various imaginative adventures that Alex and Conner get themselves into that really make the book for me. I was rooting for the twins, and for me, if I am connected to the characters and want them to do well – that’s what really makes the book for me. The Wishing Spell is also very well crafted – I could tell that Colfer has spent a lot of time and energy writing this book. I live anything fairytale wise and this book was a dream for that – Colfer knows his fairytales inside out! For me personally, Chris Colfer is an inspiration – to write and publish a book for children is my dream and he has accomplished it. This is a great read and I recommend it to middle-graders, fans of fairytales and anyone who loves a heartwarming story!