This series has literally taken me years to complete (and not because it only finished last year). I first got into this series because as a teenager I loved Glee which Chris Colfer starred in, meaning that I instantly brought his first book The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. However, as I was waiting for the 3rd I went to University and completely lost track of the entire series, meaning that I didn’t pick it up again until after I had graduated, 3 years later. I read the next 3 in very quick succession before going back to Uni to complete my masters and only recently finishing the last one.
But, now that I have completed the series I wanted to share my feelings about it both as a whole and also about each individual book. Hence, my first series review! Lets get into it:
Book 1: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
This book follows the lives of Alex and Conner Bailey, twins whose father died a couple of years back and are both somewhat not fitting in at school. After a visit from their Grandmother they get sucked into a book of Fairy-tales she leaves behind, and we follow their adventures meeting classic Fairy-tale characters such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and The Fairy Godmother.
I often find that the First book in a series is the best one and I love this book. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it as I tend to struggle a bit with retelling’s. However, while this series borrows a lot of classic characters from Hans Christian Anderson and the brothers Grimm (and others), it does it in such a way that you know it is its own entity and it doesn’t try and change the characters backstories (mostly).
Book Two: The Enchantress Returns
Following on from the previous book, Alex and Conner travel around the Fairy-tale World, meeting new and exciting fairy-tale characters in order to gain the ingredients for a potion which is key to saving the world.
Honestly, this may be a middle grade book but the twists in the plot come from everywhere, and several I did not see coming. For a sequel this book really stood up to the test and featured all the things that made the first one great: brilliant characters, believable villains, hilarious moments from the Fairy-tale Characters (I’m looking at you Red Riding Hood) and the absolutely lovely friendship between the Bailey Twins.
Book Three: A Grimm Warning
A new threat grows in this novel as a masked man running about and trying to invade the Fairy-tale world. Alex and Conner must figure out what it is that is going on and how to protect the Fairy-tale World from this new threat.
This book wasn’t quite as good as the first two for me, but I still really enjoyed it and thought it was an enjoyable read. The thing that let it down just slightly for me was the pacing. The plot seemed a lot slower in this novel and I suspect that was caused by the large amount character and plot set up needed for the following two novels. What I really did love, however, was the sub-plots in this one. Each novel comprises of 2 or 3 subplots that all join together at one point. In one of these we are introduced to Bree, Connors love interest and all around bad-ass. She really brought something new to the novel and her own story linking to the Grimm Brothers was fascinating to watch unfold.
Book 4: Beyond the Kingdoms
The Masked Man’s army must be defeated, so Alex and Conner travel to famous literary landscapes in order to recruit the characters for their team, featuring worlds such as: Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and the Legends of King Arthur.
I have the MOST mixed feelings about this book. My main issue, I think, came from the fact that the twins were separated a lot in this novel. Alex and Connors relationship really is the heart of this series so having them apart really seemed to impact my enjoyment of this one. Also, there was A plot point in this book that has bothered me ever since I read it. Prince Arthur is cast as Alex’s main love interest, however, the whole relationship just didn’t seem that believable for either of their characters. Whereas Connors love interest had been introduced slowly over time as she had her own plot line and was largely based on adorable teenage banter and awkwardness, Alex and Arthur had a big case of insta-love and I felt like it just didn’t fit with the tone of the series, let along the characters and their strong personalities
Book 5: An Author’s Odyssey
Alex and Connors army isn’t strong enough to defeat the threat to the Fairy-tale Kingdom so decide to recruit some people that the other side will not know and therefore not know how to defeat: The characters from the short-stories that Conner has written.
Again I have quite mixed feeling about this one, and I think that comes down to the fact that I read this book immediately after the previous one. Whereas the last one follows them jumping into literary worlds, this jumps into Connors short stories. I think I will really enjoy this book when re-reading out of the order of the series, but within the series, it felt like I was reading the exact same book and plot as the last one. They jump through 5 different stories that Conner has written in order to recruit the characters for their quest, just like before. This was only added to by the fact that Conner bases a lot of his characters on the characters he had met in the Fairy-tale kingdom, so it just felt very familiar and like I had read the book before.
Book 6: World’s Collide
The final book in which the battle between Conner and Alex’s army and their big enemy finally takes place where all of the different world’s collide.
I really liked this one again, it felt much more of the tone of the first two. The plot (while long) was consistent and I loved all of the relationships in it (no forced romance, hoorah!). It did still have some issues, mainly that it got very inter-dimensional (Conner is a best-selling author of a fairy-tale series based on his own life, which is called The land of stories, which is the book that he jumps into to access the fairy-tale world, which is also the book we are reading about him, so the book that he has written based on his own life that made him a bestselling author?), essentially, it got a bit hard to keep up. But, this was a really good end to the series for me, and I’m glad I stuck with it in order to reach the end of these great characters stories.
Overall: These novels have some really great aspects to them. Mainly: the friendship between the characters is always evolving and it is really enjoyable to watch that happen. The characters, while known by name to many of us, have their own personalities which make it clear that these novels are not a retelling, but their own characters. Also, these books are funny. The near-constant bickering between Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood amused me throughout all 6 books, especially as you know that they are actually quite fond of each other.
The main drawbacks: At times these books do get a bit long. Each of the novels is around 400 pages and are jam-packed with plot. Also, some of the relationships just aren’t as detailed as others and I thought this cased a major slump between book three and box six. But, overall I really do recommend this series (especially the first two). You will laugh, you will be happy and you will love the backstory of every characters (including the villains).