Thursday, November 3, 2016
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
That's right, everyone! Kurt from Glee makes his writing debut in The Land of Stories series. I was really excited when I saw that he was the author of this series and decided to give it a shot. The guy can sing, he can act, he can dance, and now he can write. Who knew?
The story is thus: Alex and Conner Bailey are twins living with their mother, who is trying to make ends meet after the death of their father only a short time ago. When their birthday comes around, their grandmother leaves them a book of fairy tales that they used to read as a family. Alex then discovers that the books is a portal to the Land of Stories, where all the classic fairy tale characters live. When she and conner accidentally fall into the portal, they find themselves without a means of getting back home. So they seek out the Wishing Spell, that can grant them any wish they desire, and meet a multitude of colorful characters along the way.
This book was actually a lot of fun to read. It's been awhile since I've been able to read something laid back and easy and just overall likable. The characters of Alex and Conner make a good team by balancing out each others flaws with the other's strengths. Alex is really the kind of person we wish we would be if we found ourselves in an adventure like this, excited and happy and enthusiastic, while Conner is probably more like what we'd really be, rushed and irritated and missing things like electricity and indoor plumbing. The fact that they balance each other out so well makes them a great pair of main characters and good protagonists for the story.
Now this is written with a younger audience in mind, and at times it can kind of show. There are a few times when the suspension of disbelief is pushed just a little too far. For instance, a twelve-year-old girl climbing up a fifty foot tower by hand without so much as a rope is kind of pushing it and there are one or two situations they get out of almost right away that seems just a little too convenient. Still, like I said, it is for younger readers and it is a fantasy so these things don't necessarily hurt the story. Just sometimes, it can be a little distracting.
That being said, the layout of the kingdom and the personalities of the characters are really colorful and interesting. Too often with stories like these are the fairy tale characters useless or unkind, but in this case, they're actually pretty understanding and helpful. They all come off as intelligent and dignified (with the possible exception of the purposefully over-the-top Red Riding Hood). The villain, the Evil Queen, poses a real threat in the story and I really like the addition of the Huntress, her silent servant who will stop at nothing to help her mistress get to the Wishing Spell before the children do. There's also a plot twist in the story that, I admit, I did see coming but not so badly that it ruined the book for me. The foreshadowing here was subtle enough that not everyone will be able to predict the ending, so kudos there.
The Land of Stories is quick, fun, clever take on the fairy tale world story and I enjoyed it. I kind of reminds me of Once Upon A Time before that show started to suck. Good characters, an interesting plot, great world building and I'm going to say that it's definitely worth your money at your local bookstore.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Any other good books for younger audiences that you'd like to see here? Comment below and share your thoughts.
Next time: Time to check my horoscope for today...wait a minute...what the heck is Ophiuchus!?!