Friday, September 28, 2012

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, Chris Colfer

The dungeon was a miserable place. Light was scarce and flickered from the torches bolted to the stone walls. Foul-smelling water dripped inside the moat circling the palace above. Large rats chased each other across the floor searching for food. This was no place for a queen.

Alex and Conor are two twins who couldn't be more different. Alex is a smart and bookish girl and Conor slacks off and frequently takes naps at school. The Bailey family has been having financial difficulties ever since the twins' father was killed in an accident. Alex and Conor's grandmother gives them a book of fairy tales called The Land of Stories, which begins to mysteriously glow. Alex and Conor end up falling through the book into the very land which it describes!

I enjoyed the plot of this middle-grade fantasy novel. But the writing, alas, left much to be desired. It was stilted and unreal; in the hands of another author this could have been a great book. But Colfer's descriptions of the wonders of the various kingdoms fell flat, and I couldn't really picture the scenes in my head. And the characters weren't well fleshed out and developed other than stereotypes (Alex the good student and teacher's pet, Conor the slacker.)

However, as I said, the actual story-line itself was good. I enjoyed the land that Colfer created, even if I couldn't quite picture it in my head. That said, I think some beautiful color plates would have really helped and added a whole lot to the book. But Little Brown didn't do that (incidentally, Little Brown refused to give me a review copy, so I borrowed it from Emily.)

Ah, yes, back to the writing. On page 215 there is a description of Red Riding Hood, now a queen: "Red Riding Hood was a very pretty young woman around the same age as Jack. She had bright blue eyes and blonde hair that was done up glamorously behind her crown. She wore a long, red gown with a matching hooded cape and a pink corset. She wore a necklace with a massive diamond, her shoulders were completely bare, and she wore a pair of long gloves with a dozen sparkly rings on her fingers." First lesson of writing class. Never start two sentences with the exact same phrase. Plus, Colfer uses "she wore" a second time in the second sentences. And "pretty"? Really? It sounds awkward and is not very creative. The Evil Queen's back-story was quite interesting though.

Anyway, an okay fantasy.

Read The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell:
  • if you like fantasy
  • if you like fairy tales
438 pages.
Okay book, but it left me wanting more!

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