Posted in children's fiction, fantasy, review

A Tale Of Magic – Chris Colfer

Magic was outlawed in all four kingdoms – and that was putting it lightly. Legally, magic was the worst criminal act a person could commit, and socially, there was nothing considered more despicable.”


Blurb: “Fourteen-year-old Brystal Evergreen has always known she was destined for great things–that is, if she can survive the oppressive Southern Kingdom. Her only escape are books, but since it’s illegal for women to read in her country, she has to find creative ways of acquiring them. Working as a maid at her local library gives her the perfect excuse to be near them and allows her to sneak a few titles home when no one is looking. But one day Brystal uncovers a secret section of the library and finds a book about magic that changes her life forever.”


The best-selling author of the The Land Of Stories is back with another magic filled series. I found Chris Colfer’s previous to be hit and miss so it’s nice to get some refresh with something brand new.

While The Land Of Stories relied on classic fairy tale characters, A Tale Of Magic doesn’t which makes it wholly original to what readers have seen before from Chris Colfer. The story takes place in a kingdom where women are very restricted in what they are able to do, and where they are able to go to the point where when Brystal is given the opportunity to leave it is a relief. The world is expertly built and does a fantastic job of showcasing Colfer’s talents; every location the reader is taken to is vivid and distinctive. Brystal is a strong lead and I’m interested to see what her arc will be throughout the books. It’s so easy to get behind her as her magic begins to manifest and she pushes for more rights.

However, in terms of story I just didn’t really connect with it. I feel in places it was just a bit too long, given it’s the first in a series and there’s a lot of set up. I did have times when I found myself distracted or skim reading to get through some chapters.

A bold effort from Chris Colfer and I am intrigued to see what he comes up with next.

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Posted in children's fiction, fairytale retelling, fantasy, review

The Land Of Stories: Worlds Collide – Chris Colfer

“Think about how wonderful this world could be if we all saw it through the eyes of a child.”


Blurb: “ All of the Land of Stories fairy tale characters–heroes and villains–are no longer confined within their world! With mayhem brewing in the Big Apple, Conner and Alex will have to win their biggest battle yet. Can the twins restore order between the human and fairy tale world?”

In the sixth and final instalment of The Land Of Stories series, Alex is missing and it’s down to Connor and his band of fairy-tale friends to find her. Meanwhile, evil is brewing as the literary army and a group of witches, among many other evil villains, descend on the real world.

The Land of Stories was a series that initially took me by surprise. Like many when it comes to “celebrity” books, I didn’t expect it to be any good and Colfer was quick to prove me wrong. This universe that has been created is so cleverly woven together in a way that makes it impossible to find any glaring cracks. Each book has slowly added more players to the game, building up to Worlds Collide where… well… worlds do exactly that. I will admit that I’ve found the series to shaky overall. For me it really peaked at The Grimm Warning which left me quite worried when it was announced that the sixth book would be the finale. Thankfully, Colfer finds a brilliant way to bring everything together, tie loose ends and make it a very satisfying finish overall.

I felt like this was the perfect time to change the game and combine the fictional and real worlds together, giving the good guys some advantage over the impending threat. I loved the insight into the government trying to cover up the magic that was taking over the city (and frankly doing a terribly job of keeping it quite). It’s another book that sees Alex and Connor going down separate paths and focused a lot more on Connor than was expected. But this worked really well. It was nice to spend that time with Connor as an individual, rather than the duo with his sister, and watch him grow as a character and stand up as a leader. The fairy-tale characters such as Red continue to prove those hilarious scenes that remind you just why this series works so well.

The only big issue I have is that with building up the world so much prior to this book, it means there are a lot of characters. All of the characters that played significant roles in the previous books are present in the same city in this one which makes it rather overwhelming at times. It could be argued that this works in showcasing the scale of the problem that Connor faces, but at times it was very hard to tell who was who and at times even remember who was on which side.

Overall, not entirely perfect but an incredibly satisfying end to a series if you really do love it.

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Posted in contemporary, review, young adult

Stranger Than Fanfiction – Chris Colfer

“Joining a bunch of strangers on a road trip isn’t something I make a hobby out of, but I figured, why the fuck not?”


Blurb: “Cash Carter is the young, world famous lead actor of the hit television Wiz Kids. When four fans jokingly invite him on a cross-country road trip, they are shocked that he actually takes them up on it. Chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters, this unlikely crew takes off on a journey of a lifetime–but along the way they discover that the star they love has deep secrets he’s been keeping.”

Chris Colfer is another one of those celebrity-turned-writers that I was initially sceptical of when it came to his Land of Stories series but quickly proved me wrong. As I’ve witnessed Colfer grow as a writer over the past few years he has become a firm auto buy author for me.

Going back to his old roots, Colfer returns to the Young Adult age range with Stranger Than Fanfiction with a story following a group of teenagers, about to go off to college, who decide to go on a road trip. Their bond exists through their mutual love of a sci-fi TV show called Whizz Kids, fronted by heart-throb Cash Carter. As the group set off on their final adventure together before college, they invite their favourite actor along not thinking for one minute that he might actually say yes… until he shows up.

Stranger Than Fiction is fundamentally like every other road trip style novel you’ll come across. It’s formulaic to the point where some landmarks visited are ones I’ve seen in countless other books.  So that aspect left little to the imagination. Colfer’s overall flair remains throughout but I was left disappointed: none of the characters really stood out for me despite the depth of their backstories, except for Cash Carter who is the real driving force for the plot and the only really interesting part as you get to see what really goes down on the other side of a media story.

This is a tale about identity, friendship, final goodbyes and making memories that are sure to last forever.

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Posted in children's fiction, fairytale retelling, fantasy, review

The Land Of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Blurb: “After decades of hiding, the evil Enchantress who cursed Sleeping Beauty if back with a vengeance. Alex and Conner Bailey have not been back to the magical Land of Stories since their adventure in The Wishing Spell ended. But one night, they learn the famed Enchantress had kidnapped their mother! Against the will of their grandmother, the twins must find their own way into the Land of Stories to rescue their mother and save the fairy tale world from the greatest threat it’s ever faced.”

Like probably many of you, I first discovered Chris Colfer in the hit American TV show Glee. It was my admiration for his work ethic and his focuses outside of Glee that led me to The Land of Stories series. I adored the first book. The creativity and twists on classic fairy tales such as Red Riding Hood were so refreshing to read.

I finally muddled through my TBR (to be read) and reached the second book in the series titled The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns. Truthfully, I was nervous going into this book. The first book, The Wishing Spell, was so good that I was worried that this book would fall below my expectations. Which sadly tends to happen a lot with a series. (See Mockingjay in The Hunger Games series) I wasn’t sure how much this initial idea could expand and it was a long book to say it’s 9-12 fiction – the edition I read was 517 pages.

But praise the literary Gods for Chris Colfer did not let me down.
This book was perfectly paced: no parts felt like they were rushed and none felt like they were dragging. The twists on each fairy tale had me in awe over Colfer’s clever mind. The writing didn’t feel as solid for me as in The Wishing Spell but the plot was on point, which made up for the writing.

The driving plot focus of The Wishing Spell , for those unfamiliar to the series, was in fact… the wishing spell, which is a kind of portal to the real world. Protagonists Alex and Conner Bailey have to take memorable things from each kingdom to build it, in order to return home. For example, Cinderella’s glass slipper is one of the objects they have to obtain.

In this book, just as the title suggests, The Enchantress is back and she has a whole lot of vengeance to dish out. When Alex and Conner’s mother is kidnapped, they find themselves back in The Land Of Stories trying to save her. To destroy The Enchantress, Alex and Conner need to build “The Wand of Wonderment” which is made out of the six most prized possessions of the six most hated people in the world (ie the villains). I liked the villain  aspect being the plot driving force. It was nice to see them more involved than just the single baddie the protagonist has to defeat.

There is a third book in the series titled The Land of Stories: A Grim Warning and Colfer is currently working on a fourth book.

He also has a Young Adult book out called Struck By Lightening which has been adapted into a film starring Chris Colfer himself.

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