Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Book Reviews: The Land of Stories – The Wishing Spell

By Chris Colfer
Reviewed by Sarina Patel, Jr. Assistant Editor and Comic Hub Co-Editor
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012
Recommended for ages 8 and up


Nestled between Cinderella’s glass slipper and Little Red Riding Hood’s basket is a storybook that can spin more gold than Rumplestiltskin: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. Written with equal parts gusto, humor, and candor by Chris Colfer, the first in a series of several adventure-fantasy novels details a literal fall into a fairytale kingdom where a pair of twins encounter fairy tale characters as they search for the Wishing Spell that will whisk them back to the real world.

Let’s backtrack to where it all began: two years after their father’s death; the proper but good-natured teacher’s pet Alex Bailey and her twin brother, the enigmatic slacker Connor Bailey, have settled into their roles as resident nerd and jokester. Yet they still harbor a yearning to be more like the other sibling—Alex harbors a desire to be popular and Connor wants to be book-smart. Following her father’s advice, Alex fishes out Grandma’s storybook—but after tampering with its magical properties, she does a complete turnaround…and, with a flash of light, falls straight into the book.

The heroic brother, Connor plunges into the book after her. Our protagonists only get clumsier—after much squabbling, the twins wind up lost in the creepy Dwarf Forest and surrounded by hungry wolves. Finally, the surly blonde Goldilocks fends the animals off with a sharp sword and a sassy horse.

Luckily, the twins stumble upon a kind frog, who warns them of the Wishing Spell and the wizard who wants to wield it. Meanwhile, an Evil Queen is recruiting bloodthirsty wolves to track down the pair, and also, to exact her vengeance on the fairest woman in the land who started it all: Snow White.

While this story focuses on a middle-grade audience, the dialogue shifts between sentimental and silly. When one character is practically having a panic attack trying to cheer up a magical creature down on her luck, the other character is busy enforcing his role as the wisecracking risk-taker by trying to make her cry (that’s plot convenience for you: the creature’s tears are a key component of the Wishing Spell).

The Wishing Spell is often glorified as an all-powerful resolution that will immediately fix their lives. In the end, the characters end up saving the day.

Throughout the story, this daring and action-packed debut is no slouch thanks to Colfer, who carefully avoids being corny and cheesy when it concerns his primary villainess. The well-written characters of Alex and Connor, combined with consistent pacing and a worthwhile ending, nicely delivers us the anticipated return home. You are sure to find your “Happily Ever After” in enchanting, silly, and headstrong The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell.

You can purchase this book on Amazon.