Book: The Land of Stories, The Wishing Spell

"The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell"

Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change. When the twins’ grandmother gives them a fairy-tale book, they have no idea they’re about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real.

But the stories they know so well haven’t ended in this magical land–Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother! The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way?

I’ll say this about the book, it’s certainly a very fast read. And I really like author Chris Colfer’s take on what happens after each fairy tale’s happily ever after, especially how he molded Goldilock’s into a very self-sufficient figure.

And here comes the but: the idea behind the book was wonderful, and the structure was good–but I found it hard to connect with the main characters.

I might be reading too much into this, but I found Alex and Connor problematic. On one hand, they fit very well in the Land of Stories, because they move and talk like they do come from fairy tales themselves. But the words they’re using, and the knowledge behind said words, are very modern. Which would have been well and good, especially with the revealed twist (that you’ll figure out soon as they enter the Land of Stories). Except it doesn’t gel well. Reading through their dialogue, it felt like the two characters were being fed lines that they wouldn’t have said themselves. Words that were coming from an outside perspective.

Heck, some of the things they do were very out of character for them. And there was one particular instance when I felt outraged at what they had done–because it was them who had done it. And yet, looking back at the incident, I would’ve done the same thing. And then I figured, that’s why I was having a problem with it. The act was logical, not emotional. It was something the readers would do–not what the characters would. (And it’s really hard to write reactions without spoilers, but I’m going to recommend the book at the end of this post so I don’t want to spoil it for you.)

That said, for a first-time author Chris Colfer has a nice handle on characters–specifically the fairy-tale princesses we know and love. And while the Evil Queen’s story has been done a thousand times–yes, an exaggeration–but I thought the ending Colfer gave her was good. I just wish he had given the same care for main characters Alex and Connor.

So here’s the part where I recommend the book: Yes, it’s not perfect, but it’s a great first effort. I’m looking forward to see where Colfer takes The Land of Stories if and when he decides to write a sequel. Hopefully, by then, he’ll have been able to flesh Alex and Connor more.

Now, let’s see what other people are saying about the book:
Jacq Russell
Gossamer Obsessions

the red pyramid

"the red pyramid" by rick riordanto be honest, i wasn’t completely sold on buying THE RED PYRAMID yet. i held off from buying the PERCY JACKSON series until my mom bought the whole set (and then, i borrowed it from her) so i was thinking of doing the same thing with this release. after all, the wait would be shorter as this is supposedly part of a trilogy, not a series.

but in the end, curiosity won out. bought the book, and i finished it within the day.

what THE RED PYRAMID has working for it is that the PERCY JACKSON series was highly successful. which means people would be curious with rick riordan‘s other work. and that’s a good thing, because contrary to what the author says, egyptian mythology is not as popular as greek or roman mythology. it does okay, don’t get me wrong. but aside from the few popular ones, and the ankh, people don’t go around invoking egyptian gods and goddesses in daily conversations. unlike their greek or roman counterparts.

that aside, THE RED PYRAMID was an enjoyable read. it stars two heroes, and we follow two different perspectives, but only one journey. i was initially worried that it would come off as confusing, what with following two different narrators–but that fear was quickly put to rest within the first few chapters. you see, the book is presented as a transcript of a series of recorded messages. a very good way of making the characters, and the fantastical events, easy to relate to. because it feels like you’re reading a friend’s or a colleague’s accounts of their very interesting christmas vacation.

what i didn’t like so much was the small interruptions the “narrators” put in. i know that we’re to believe the conceit that it is just a transcript–but the interruptions actually derailed me while reading. i get it that their siblings, and siblings tease each other while the other is talking (i have sisters, i know what i’m saying), but in THE RED PYRAMID, it doesn’t add anything to the story. it actually distracts.

but aside from this one complaint, THE RED PYRAMID as a whole was very enjoyable. it’s certainly different enough from the PERCY JACKSON series that it doesn’t feel like a retread of the teenagers-as-gods storyline, but it doesn’t deviate so much from the successful formula that this feels like a cheap knock-off.

what i like about the book most is this one moment when a character tells our protagonists that she’s not very fond of manhattan because there are other gods there. i see this as an establishing moment wherein the characters in this series are affirming that it’s in the same universe as the other series. and i for one am looking forward to a crossover event–or even just a moment. wouldn’t it be funny for the kane siblings to suddenly bump into percy jackson in one of their journeys? the kanes are in brooklyn and camp half-blood is just over at long island. it’s impossible that they don’t bump into each other sooner or later.

do i recommend the book? definitely. especially since by book’s end,  there are no immediate mysteries that one must quickly have the answer for. i mean, there are hanging story threads–but not like the ones in THE DREAMHOUSE KINGS series by robert liparulo that would keep you sleepless for a few days while you wonder what happens in the next book. but they’re intriguing enough that you definitely know that you’ll be buying the next book in the trilogy as soon as it’s released.