The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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The first book in Chris Colfer's number one New York Times best-selling series
The Land of Stories about two siblings who fall into a fairy-tale world!
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 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.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 59 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 17, 2012|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #2,890 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#18 in Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths for Children
#21 in Family Life Fiction for Children
#30 in Action & Adventure Fantasy for Children
Reviewed in the United States on April 26, 2018
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If you are looking for an excellent and edge of your seat book from the series of The Land of Stories then The Land of Stories the Wishing Spell is for you! This book will transport you right away into the world of magic, fairies, and goblins. Chris Colfer does an extraordinarily good job at making the characters extremely realistic and leaving you on the edge of her seat. From the two main characters Alex and Conner Bailey we learn that perseverance is key to success and not trying is not an option. In this book Alex and Conner Bailey are normally 6th grade twins. They only live with their mom because their dad died in a car crash. One day they find out that their grandmother is actually the fairy godmother of the fairy tale world.They find this out because for their birthday their grandmother gives them an old fairy tale treasury and the twins fell into the book landing in the fairytale world. The twins are trying to find a way out of the book but a dark force is trying to stop them. Will they make it home or will they be stuck in the fairy tale world forever?
In The Land of Stories the Wishing Spell the book has great description that clearly paints a picture in you mind at all times. At this part in the book they are describing a jail cell, “The dungeon was a miserable place. Light was scarce and flickered from the torched bolted to the stone walls. Foul-smelling water dripped inside from the moat circling the palace above. Large rats chased each other across the floor searching for food. This was no place for a queen,”(pg.1). During this part you can clearly picture this dungeon that a queen is locked up in, with water dripping from the walls and very little light. And off the bat it already gets you wondering about why a queen would be locked up in a dungeon. Another piece of evidence that shows description is “Mrs.Peters was a tall, thin woman who always wore a dress that resembled old, patterned sofas. Her hair was dark and curly and sat perfectly on top of her head like a hat (and her students often though it was). Through a pair of thick glasses hee eyes were permanently squinted from all the judgmental looks she has given her classes over the years,”(pg. 12). This can clearly show you what Alex and Connor's teacher Mrs.Peters looks like with her squinted eyes and perfect hair. It gives you an image so vivid it could be in a movie. And that is why in The Land of Stories the Wishing Spell the book has great description that clearly paints a picture in you mind at all times.
The book also has characters that have real emotions and that are easy to relate to. One piece from the book is when Alex and Conner are in class and its relatable, “Alex Bailey eagerly sat straight up in her seat.She really enjoyed her teachers lessons.(...) Connor Bailey jumped back to life, almost knocking his desk over. He had dozed off again,” (pg 16). This is relatable on both sides of the bialy twins school day. Some people may be into school and love learning about new and interesting things, and others may be into school but maybe it's boring to them sometimes so they doze off. In that specific part of the story it's when the kids just went to class and their teacher was giving them a lesson about fairy tales . Another piece of evidence that shows that the characters are relatable is,”Look,’ Alex said, and pointed to a for sale sign next to the oak tree. A bright red stripe with the word sold had been recently added to it, Alex's eyes welled up with tears,” (pg 30). This shows very human like emotions because in this part in the book Alex and Connor's childhood house just sold and now they can't live there anymore. And all of this evidence clearly shows the characters in the book have very human like emotions which makes them easy to relate to.
And in the book it has cliffhangers at every moment. One piece of evidence that supports this is, “Alex leaned further forward the book and fell in. ‘Alex NO’ Conner yelled as he saw he fall into the book,” (pg 78). This is a huge cliffhanger because Alex found out that a fairy tale book was a porthole to the fairytale world and she fell into it, and connor was watching her fall in and there is almost no way out. Another Piece of evidence is,”It was impossible for the kids to stop staring. They both stood in front of her as if she was a rabid t rex. The witch was skinny with lots of burn marks, they started to step away then the witch lunged at Connor and grabbed his arm,” (pg 112). This part is a cliffhanger because they just found the witch in the gingerbread house from the book Hansel and Gretel and the witch was trying to invite them into her house then she grabbed Connor and you get concerned about what might happen to them.This shows the book it has cliffhangers at every moment.
All in all the book The Land of Stories the Wishing Spell By Chris Colfer is an exciting, fun book about kids in a fairy tale world.Its is a total cliffhanger and there are goblins and trolls at every corner.It shows you that perseverance is key to success and not trying is not an option. But also we learn from the Connor and Alex Bailey is,whenever they have a task to complete they are normally uncomfortable in that situation,but they always complete the task. So we learn from them that stepping outside your comfort zone can make you stronger.
Chris Colfer is quite the talented man. From his Golden Globe winning performance on Glee to his background in High School Forensics (Which I myself partake in), he has proven his acting chops over and over again. He also wrote and directed a movie, Struck By Lightning, which has had some early good reviews. But even with all that under his belt, I was still skeptical going into The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell.
Let's get something clear: I am not a Chris Colfer fan. I've despised Glee since about halfway through Season 2 (when I realized it was all downhill form there), and while I think he is a talented actor and good role model, I don't think he is superman or anything.
But he isn't a bad writer.
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, is about two twins, Alex and Conner, both of whom are living with their single mother who works often. This very tragic, very real opening sets a scene to provide excellent contrast for the eventual fantasy setting of the novel. When Alex and Conner magically wind up in the Land of Stories (I won't spoil how) they mainly have to figure out how to get home. Rumors of a "Wishing Spell" that grants any wish after gathering a set of items sends the Twins off running all over the kingdom to find those items and get back home.
The novel starts strong and things are generally interesting throughout. There are some pleasent twists and turns along the way, but look back up at that plot. Veterans of the fantasy genre and video game enthusiasts will be able to indentify the story as what's called a "fetch quest." Essentially, the characters are forced on a journey to collect a bunch of mundane items so that the author/creator can show off their world and creation.
At its worst, this story is a cheap fetch quest. A sight-seeing scavenger hunt for the reader to learn about this Land of Stories. While that makes the plot weak, it is supported by the fact that the world Colfer has created is vivid, living, and quite entertaining. Cleverly blending familiar themes and characters with new situations (like a pregnant Cinderella or a Goldilocks on the run), The Land of Stories provides an outstanding respite for not only the protagonists, but also an escape for the readers.
But let me stress this again: this is only at the plot's worst.
A certain points throughout the novel, the plot hits a high and really, really shines. The item-quest gets buried under a witty, character-filled series that resembles something akin to Percy Jackson and the Olympians . Connor's dialogue is refresingly well written, and his wise cracks almost never tire. Alex, on the other hand, is the spitting image of Hermione Granger and Annabeth from PJ, except with little tastes of Colfer's own voice of reason. Connor is clearly the stronger, less derivative character, but both provide some great material for readers of any age.
But that ratio, where only one out of every two characters is fascinating and original, kind of echoes throughout the novel. There's "Froggy" who is literally just Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia , the council of extremely stereotypical fairies (who are named according to color), and a strangely disgruntled Jack (of Beanstalk fame), who is a cross between Argus Filch and Severus Snape. These are just a few examples of the familiar, almost cliched characters. But due to the theme of this novel (essentially that the stories we read are real and true), and given how heavily it borrows from classical stories to even begin with, this odd mixture of totally new and unique characters and boring, archetypical characters surprisingly works.
While Colfer avoids falling victim to the usual ruts of Fantasy no-nos, he does misstep in a few rookie mistakes. There is a term in the industry called a "MacGuffin", which basically means an item used to force the narrative along without having much significance or explanation of said significance. While some of the items in the book are clear (Rapunzel's hair, Sleeping Beauty's spindle needle), others are offered no explanation and become MacGuffins (the troll king's crown?).
Similarly, things often work out a little *too* well for the twins. I kept expecting some big, amazing reveal where, due to the meta- nature of the narrative as a whole, there would be some plot device that would explain the twins amazing luck, which happens again and again and again. Here's a basic passage that illustrate's my point clearly, about 2/3s of the way through the book. For context, the twins have collected like half their stuff and suddenly need to go somewhere else. Tadaa! a boat magically appears on a river that happens to be near them and they can hitch a ride with the owner. Not only does this happen often, but the boat they get into is something out of a fairy tale as well:
"The boat was small and flat and had just enough room for the three of them. It traveled perfectly along with the river's current, so they didn't even need to row. The twins were enjoying the ride and were able to appreciate the scenery, pointing out every riverside village they saw. It was nice to travel without fear of a wolf or an ogre running up from behind them."
This scene also works as an allegory for the work as a whole. The reader is there to enjoy the ride, which fits perfectly. It's not about the method of travel, its about pointing out each attraction Colfer has created, solely for the reader's enjoyment. But in this process, that sense of danger is lost. There is no moment where I was *really* scared for the twin's life or quest. I knew the entire time that they would be fine, because that's how stories like this work. And the whole "common happy ending thing" does end up hurting and helping the book. It hurts because of predictability, but helps because it says, with a wink, that the book understands its a book.
Like I said, very meta.
Aside from those complaints and a few questionable writing choices ("Conner's mouth hung open like a broken glove compartment"), Colfer has created an interesting world, at least one well-developed main character, and provided a good story for years to come. While it doesn't quite top the outstanding heights of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (which, in my opinion, was the last great entry in this genre), he does make a name for himself as an author, nor just a gimmick. I'll be on the lookout for the next one, but being 18 years old, I don't know who I would recommend this novel to. Not quite complex enough for adults, but still a little too mature for especially young kids, this book will have a hard time finding an audience. But its an enjoyable, quick beach read that is perfect for the Kindle.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
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That is the magic of The Wishing Spell. For adults, there is a certain excitement reading about characters you loved so dearly as a child, while for the children it is the thrill of imagining being able to visit characters that have probably become their best friends. As an adult reading it, I found myself with butterflies as Alex and Conner met some of my childhood heroes, wishing I could be there with a camera in hand. The experience is something like a child visiting Disneyland and meeting all those treasured friends in the flesh. That is the beauty of this story.
The plot itself was very basic. Alex and Conner find themselves being sucked into the not-so-imaginably titled Land of Stories - their favourite fairy-tale book as young children, full of stories about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, and Goldilocks, among others. They then encounter a problem: how do they get home? What ensues is a quest for items that will take them throughout all the many kingdoms of the Land of Stories - as detailed on the handy map at the beginning of the book - before they can get home. But the further Alex and Conner go on their journey, the more secrets they uncover both about themselves and the characters they know and love.
As a young adult, I picked up The Land of Stories because I enjoy fantasy and fairy-tales - this is a story for the Disney fanatics. It took a while to get going but once it did, I found myself warming to the story and to the characters. Admittedly, while I was gripped by the idea of meeting fairy-tale characters, Colfer has a lot of work to do on his storytelling: it was very basic, predictable and the characters were shallow cliches. Secrets uncovered at the end I had guessed in the first few chapters, and Alex and Conner didn't really come alive for me. Generally, though, our beloved fairy-tale friends were safe in Colfer's hands as they wouldn't have been in the hands of so many: the worst you'll find is Red Riding Hood's tendency to throw tantrums, and some cringe-worthy names of unnamed characters (The Princesses are all married to Charming brothers, two of whom are called Chase and Chandler, and their father is called Chester - I have to say I groaned a bit at the American names!).
But all that said, I DID enjoy the book. I had to knock off two stars for the way the story was told, but I don't think this is a bad first attempt from Colfer at all. Whether you're an adult purchasing this for yourself, or it's being purchased for a child, I think there's something in it for all fairy-tale lovers to enjoy. Give it a chance and you'll wish you were there with Alex and Conner, sneaking in to Cinderella's Ball, climbing Rapunzel's tower, or fleeing the Evil Queen!
After doing some research, it's become clear that Chris has a natural talent for storytelling but not exactly for tightening his writing style. I do think this is his first book so I will give him the benefit of the doubt, especially knowing he's contracted to write it rather than actually write the book and approach the publisher afterwards. That being said, his writing style improves dramatically through the book and the ending is tied up nicely for a standalone AND a sequel bait.
I will be reading the other books in this series to see how his writing style improves. Definitely worth checking out, regardless of age.
But then the story really began and it got better and better. I liked the characters, the plot and all the different trials they had to go through. It even made me cry near the end.
Plus I loved the art at the start of every chapter. An amazing idea.
It's definitely a book you should read if you like middle-grade adventure/fantasy books and if you can read through the start without a problem.