ribbonknight's Reviews > The Wishing Spell

The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
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's review
May 10, 2012

liked it

** spoiler alert ** Had the book not been written by Colfer, I probably wouldn't have read it. This kind of fantasy isn't really my thing, although I do read a lot of sf/f and a lot of YA.

Alex Bailey and her brother Conner are twins who have different interests. Alex gets good grades in school; Conner falls asleep in class but gets through life with biting sarcasm.

Their dad died about a year ago, and they have to move into a rental house with their mom, because she's no longer able to afford the house they'd lived in for years.
Their grandma comes to visit on their birthday and brings along The Book of Stories, a collection of fairy tales that both their grandma and their dad used to read to them when they were little.

The kids enter the book and wind up in a fairy tale world where Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Jack (with his beanstalk) are all real, and rule separate kingdoms that bleed into one another.

In order to get home, Alex and Conner have to collect a bunch of items (one of Cinderella's glass slippers, a piece of Red Riding Hood's basket, etc.) to activate a Wishing Spell to get home. They're following instructions in an old journal given to them by an anthropomorphic frog.

The book ends up being a whirlwind tour of the Land of Stories, with the kids meeting various celebrities from European fairy tales, bonding more deeply with each other, grieving together for their dad, and deciding whether or not they truly want to go home.

Colfer does a good job of breathing new life into old characters, although that's still something that's been done almost ad nauseum in the last few years. His Goldlilocks kicks ass and takes names. Allusions are made to background characters having affairs and etc.
The Evil Queen in particular gets a dramatic and emotional back-story.

For me personally, there was too much packed into the story. At the end of the book, I didn't care very much about Alex or Conner, or any of the other characters for that matter. The plot twists were pretty predictable for adult readers.

The lesson that the kids end up learning is that every human being is complicated, and a product of their background. It's kind of a powerful and empathetic message from an author who grew up being bullied in school.

For fans of Glee/Colfer, my choice of revealing lines were:
Cinderella telling the kids, "Living a public life is a difficult thing to do, and even now I find it a bit overwhelming. No matter what you do, you can never please everyone."

The Evil Queen saying, "Every driven person comes from a mountain of pain they wish to keep hidden."

The dialogue was the strongest writing in the book, although I think a lot of it would have benefited from comedic timing & being spoken out loud. For that reason I'm very much looking forward to seeing his movie "Struck by Lightning," which recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

This book was not my fave, but if more books are published in the series, I would be interested in reading them. I could see this being very much an "intro" book. I'd love to read another book with these established characters and maybe one or two new ones, so that he could really sink his teeth into some characterization.

Between filming Glee and doing the live tours the last two years, I have no idea when Colfer found the time to write a novel and a film script. He is a BAMF. (HE ALSO TWIRLS KNIVES. CHRIS COLFER IS A BAMF.)

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