Audiobook Review: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Wishing Spell is the first book in The Land of Stories series written (and read) by Chris Colfer. This children's fantasy novel offers a new look at some favorite fairy tales. Twins Alex and Conner Bailey have lost their father and are just trying to get through each day.  On their birthday their grandmother gives them a treasured 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. They come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. As their search for the ingredients for The Wishing Spell, possibly their only way home. They encounter princesses, a frog man, witches, wolves, goblins, trolls and much more. Getting home is going to be even harder than they thought.

The Wishing Spell started off giving readers a look at just who Alex and Conner are. Their father died, their mother works too much, and their grandmother travels. Alex is a book worm with no friends but plenty of smarts. Conner is a good kid, but has trouble staying awake in class and has a bit of a smart mouth. When their grandmother passes down her treasured storybook strange things begin to happen, resulting in the twins falling through the book into the 'Land of Stories'. I really liked the twists on some of the stories, and I especially liked that even the evil queen is given a back story to help readers understand just how everyone came to be who they are. Goldilocks is not what you would expect, neither is Red Ridinghood, but some of the princesses are just as sweet and simple as you might expect from the tales you already know. I think Goldilocks, Jack, and the Evil Queen were my favorite characters through out, simply because they were fresh and new here. They had new stories and new motivations.

There were a few things that bothered me as I was listening to the audiobook. I was less thrilled with Alex's seeming willingness to give up completely on her home (i.e. mother and grandmother) in lieu of staying in the stories, even though it was temporary. My other sticking point was Conner's personality- he seemed like the entitled kid that I always dislike running into in public. He felt free to criticize everyone (including royalty) and put other people down. He made rash assumptions and stuck with them regardless of their validity. My other complaint is that sometimes the solutions just seemed to easy. No wonder Conner acted like an entitled brat, everything seemed to work out for him (except the loss of his dad prior to the beginning of the story). They slipped away from wolves, tricked a witch, convinced otherwise intelligent adults to hand over what ever he wanted, and pretty much skated through things. There were some suspenseful moments, and those were done well, but the effect was kind of ruined by the precedent of things just working out for no good reason.

That might make it sound like I did not enjoy the book, but I did. This was the debut book from a young author with plenty of other things on his plate,and I think The Wishing Spell demonstrates that he has talent and great potential for growth. I would recommend The Wishing Spell to readers that enjoy fairy tale reimaginations, fantasy quest stories, stories about growing up, and fun adventure. The second book in the series is The Enchantress Returns.

About Chris Colfer
Chris Colfer is an American actor and singer, known for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the television series Glee. "The Wishing Spell" is his first novel for children. Chris has also released a book based off the movie he produced and starred in.
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