Their mother is trying to balance her job and her family after her husband, John Bailey, was killed in a car accident. Conner barges in to stop Alex from going in the book, but Alex loses her balance because she was shocked and falls into the book. Conner jumps in as well to go after Alex. They find out the book is a portal to the fairy-tale world. There, they meet Froggy, a man turned into a frog. Froggy gives them a journal that tells of the Wishing Spell, a spell that can grant whatever wish the person wants if the person has eight items.
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It did. His sentences are short and simplistic with no signs of imagery or depth. Instead of showing emotion and action, Colfer opts to tell you what the characters are feeling as blandly as possible.
Was an editor assigned to this book? I think the editor might have been a cat with narcolepsy. Had The Wishing Spell been written as a straight up parody of faerie tales, it would have been a successful piece of writing. Conner notes that compared to the Pevensie children climbing through a wardrobe, and Dorothy being whisked away to Oz via twister, falling through a book was pretty boring.
I had to laugh at the latter because I was thinking the same thing, and the former because it was a clever way to portray how modern children would react to villains from old stories they knew well. Colfer does not engage with faerie tales in a meaningful way. They do not recognize it is important for these stories to have multiple interpretations, and that there is no correct meaning.
The original characters are flat archetypes--single mother with a heart of gold, slacker boy, smart uptight girl, the perfect grandma is endlessly supportive and offers financial support. Colfer turns beloved faerie tale characters into ineffectual twits. Even his semi-interesting version of Goldilocks is reduced to petty name calling when she discovers a betrayal. Snow White shouts in the prologue, and it is said that it was the first time she had ever raised her voice.
A woman whose stepmother tried to murder her four times never raised her voice before speaking to her stepmother in a dungeon? Colfer also paints Snow White as the paragon of virtue.
Though he thanks the Brothers Grimm in his acknowledgements, Colfer ignores the ending printed in their stories in which Snow White makes her mother "dance" in red-hot iron shoes at her wedding. Even the good guys can be cruel, which would have been something wise to impart to readers, but he made the disappointing decision to gloss over it.
All of the scrapes Alex and Conner find themselves in are easily solved through helpful adults whom have no problem sacrificing themselves for two annoying kids they just met. This plot device is irritating not only because it is repetitive, but also because Conner feels perfectly comfortable insulting and walking all over the people he meets. As soon as they get to the Land of Stories, he designates a frog-man as Froggy rather than letting the frog-man establish his own identity.
Alex waffles between being the responsible one and having no common sense. It seems Colfer changed the characters to suit his whims as he went on.
The land of stories is not a Hogwarts, Narnia, or Oz--both terrifying and delightful. It is pretty much just terrifying and miserable. Why would anyone want to go there?
Furthermore, why would a child want to read about such an unhappy place? Watch Fushigi Yuugi instead.
The Wishing Spell
Light was scarce and flickered from the torches bolted to the stone walls. Foul-smelling water dripped inside from the moat circling the palace above. Large rats chased each other across the floor searching for food. This was no place for a queen. It was just past midnight, and all was quiet except for the occasional rustle of a chain. Through the heavy silence a single set of footsteps echoed throughout the halls as someone climbed down the spiral steps into the dungeon.
[PDF] The Wishing Spell Book by Chris Colfer Free Download (438 pages)
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell : Book 1