The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell is described by Colfer as a "modern day fairytale," following twins Alex and Connor Bailey as they fall from the real world into a world full of fairytales they have only ever read about before. But after run-ins with trolls, goblins, wolves, and witches, getting home might be more difficult than they previously thought.
Colfer said in an interview with Piers Morgan that the twins in his novel are based on himself, because he is a Gemini. He added that although The Land of Stories is a children's book, he thinks it is something that can be enjoyed by all ages. Later it is revealed that Colfer plans on making a movie based on the book. In the same interview, he reveals that he has been creating the world in The Land of Stories since a very young age, and that when he was a child it was a means of escaping the real world for him.
Colfer recorded his audio book using his own voice.
The book was number one on the New York Times Bestseller List as of July 25, 2012.
Alex and Conner Bailey's World is About to Change.
When the twins' 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 make belief becomes reality.
"There's more in Colfer's magic kingdoms than Disney has ever dreamed of.
- -USA Today
Detailed Plot SummaryEdit
The novel begins inside the Land of Stories. Queen Snow White visits the castle's dungeon to meet with her stepmother, who has been dubbed the "Evil Queen" by the population of not just her former kingdom, but the entire world, due to her crimes against Snow White and many others. Snow White questions her mother, wishing to know why she attempted to kill her three times and to understand her motives more. Her stepmother agrees, but warns Snow White that she does not have a pleasant tale to tell.
On Earth, Conner and Alex Bailey are introduced as two 11-year-old twins. Also introduced is their teacher, Mrs. Peters, who is teaching a lesson on fairy tales. True fairy tales, she says, have been warped by society to be far from their original plots and morals. While Alex is attentive during the class, her twin brother Conner demonstrates far less enthusiasm, falling asleep and nearly embarrassing himself in front of his peers. Mrs. Peters sends them home with an assignment.
Once the twins reach home, it becomes apparent that they lost their father to a car accident almost a year before. Since then they have lived with their mother alone (with occasional visits from their grandmother - on their father's side). Their mother sadly reveals that she must work on their birthday - the family is in a tight spot, so they must get by somehow, and this frequently involves disappointment - and that she will try her best to compensate. This compensation manifests in the form of the twins' grandmother, who comes for a surprise visit. Along with other presents, to the twins' amazement, she gifts them her precious storybook of fairy tales, The Land of Stories. Alex takes the book to bed with her that night and notices, for the first time, that it is beginning to glow, and a strange humming sound is being emitted from it.
As the week goes on, Alex begins to act strange. She is reclusive, hiding in her room and coming out only occasionally. Conner notes her behavior and eventually confronts her at school after she runs to the bathroom randomly in a hurry. He discovers that the book has been acting up since their grandmother gave it to them - glowing and humming at different intervals - and that anything Alex drops into its pages when it is glowing seems to vanish into thin air. While the twins are discussing the book's properties a bird suddenly flies out from the book, and Conner becomes concerned, claiming that they must get rid of the book. Alex argues that it's been in their family for a long time, and that there is more to be learned about it. When the twins get back to class, they barely avoid a catastrophic incident with the book, which begins acting up in Alex's bag. When Alex runs off, Conner concludes that she must be planning to enter the book herself, and takes off after her.
Alex gets home first and begins experimenting with the book more, but Conner's sudden intrusion scares her and she falls directly into the book. She is soon followed by Conner, and the two are overwhelmed by what they have discovered - an entirely different world, seemingly plucked from the pages of their grandmother's book. They find themselves in the middle of a vast forest, and narrowly escape a medieval army, learning in the process that Goldilocks is a wanted fugitive. They are approached by a talking, man-sized frog, quickly dubbed Froggy by Conner, who leads them to his house and explains the nature of the Land of Stories to them. The two discover that the inhabitants of this world are as oblivious to Earth as humans are to the Land of Stories. Froggy explains to them that their best chance of getting back to the world they call home is through an obscure magical method called the Wishing Spell, believed to be no more than superstition by many in the land. Supposedly, when eight certain items are placed together, the resulting magic will allow the user to be granted one wish, no matter how extravagant or simple it may be. Froggy hands them a journal that once belonged to a man who had previously used the Wishing Spell and had chronicled his journey for future reference. He allows the twins to spend the night at his house.
In the morning, Froggy sends them off on their journey with some of his supplies and wishes them luck. They venture out into the Dwarf Forests and encounter danger in the form of a witch with a gingerbread house. Soon they are nearly the victims of the Big Bad Wolf Pack, a group of renegade wolves led by a head wolf named Malumclaw. The twins witness a fight between Goldilocks, now a grown woman, and the wolves. Goldilocks and her horse Porridge manage to escape. The twins climb Rapunzel's Tower and begin reading the journal to learn about the Wishing Spell items. They learn that the journal's previous owner had sought out a man called the Traveling Tradesman (who sold Jack the legendary beans) for advice on the Wishing Spell, and had been redirected to a witch named Hagatha who gave him the list of items in the form of riddles. While in the tower, they find the first item - a lock of Rapunzel's hair. When analyzing the rest of the riddles, they realize that they may have underestimated the proportions of their quest.
Meanwhile, the Evil Queen has escaped her imprisonment and meets with the Huntsman that was originally tasked with killing Snow White. They assemble at a remote castle in the Sleeping Kingdom, and it is revealed that the Evil Queen has recovered her Magic Mirror. The Huntsman explains that, due to aging and injury, he is no longer able to complete tasks for the Evil Queen, but offers up his mute daughter as a replacement for his own duties. The Evil Queen then reveals that she also desires to complete the Wishing Spell, and her mirror lists the items for her, with two additional warnings - the Wishing Spell can only happen twice, and it has already been completed once. He tells her that a brother and sister also seek the items, and the Evil Queen sends her new Huntress to collect the items, claiming that she herself will deal with the children while the work is underway.
After crossing a troll's bridge successfully, Alex and Conner reach the Charming Kingdom, Cinderella's domain. With a bit of luck the twins manage to sneak into Cinderella's castle and meet the queen herself, who is pregnant with her first child. The twins know that the next Wishing Spell item is one of Cinderella's glass slippers, but after the Queen shows kindness to them they cannot bring themselves to steal one of the slippers. When they depart from the kingdom in the morning, the twins find, to their surprise, that somehow one of the slippers has made it into their satchel.
The twins catch a ride on an outgoing wagon and make their way to the Red Riding Hood Kingdom, an independent state ruled by the famous girl herself after protests seceded the land from the Northern Kingdom. While there they encounter many classic fairy tale locations and people, such as the farms of Bo Peep and Jack's Beanstalk, along with Jack himself. They learn that Jack visits Queen Red Riding Hood occasionally to deliver her a basket, and that Red is in love with him, despite the fact that he is truly in love with someone else. Additionally, they find out that Red is somewhat self-obsessed and jealous, concerned only with her image and leaving important decisions to her grandmother. That night, they sneak into the castle's dedicated Basket Room to try and obtain the next item (a piece of Red Riding Hood's first basket that she used to carry food to her grandmother's house) only to witness another person - the Evil Queen's Huntress - also after the same goal. When she leaves with the basket piece, she makes sure to set the room on fire behind her, and after a struggle the twins manage to retrieve a chunk of the basket and escape. As they run away they witness a secret meeting between Jack and Goldilocks - she is the one who Jack is in love with, and the reason he has not married Red despite her insistence.
Conner and Alex return to the Dwarf Forests, where they become lost. They are kidnapped by a group of Trolls and Goblins from the Troll and Goblin Territories, a place to which they have been restricted due to their long history of kidnapping humans to use as slaves. Conner and Alex are thrown into the dungeons with the rest of the slaves, but not before noticing that the stony "shared crown" of the Troll and Goblin kings matches the description of one of the Wishing Spell items. In the slaves' prison quarters, they find themselves placed next to the legendary Traveling Tradesman, who informs them that the witch Hagatha is long dead - she fell into a thorn bush pit in the Sleeping Kingdom which she cursed with her dying breath when nobody came to help her. The Tradesman insists that there is no hope of escape, but with the help of Conner-enamored Trollbella, the princess and daughter of the Troll King, the twins manage to escape the compound. In the process, they successfully free the rest of the slaves and steal the stone crown of the Kings. The Tradesman isn't so lucky - he sacrifices himself back to the Trolls and Goblins as a distraction to help the twins get away.
The twins run to the Fairy Kingdom, where they meet a dismayed fairy, Trix, who is being put on trial for using magic to prank another fairy who was teasing her. As she cries they manage to collect a tear from her, that being the next item of the Wishing Spell. They attend her trial and meet the Ruling Council of Fairies, who conduct the trial and wish to have Trix banished from the Fairy Kingdom. Conner comes to her defense, however, and the Council pardons her. In the meantime, they find out that one of the Council's members has a pet - the Walking Fish - that matches the description (and origin story) of a character in a story that their father used to tell them.
Malumclaw and his wolf pack are, in the meantime, confronted by the Evil Queen, who wishes for them to hunt down the children and bring them back alive. She promises Red Riding Hood in exchange for the twins, which riles the wolves up - Malumclaw's father was the legendary Big Bad Wolf, and they wish for revenge. The Queen threatens them that she will have them all killed if they do not uphold their end of the bargain.
Alex and Conner arrive in the Sleeping Kingdom to find that the area is still suffering from its curse - the farmers and workers are constantly tired and napping, and the native plant life is sluggish as well. The twins learn that both of Cinderella's glass slippers have been marked as stolen, confirming that someone else is collecting for the Wishing Spell. They manage to visit with Sleeping Beauty herself, the ruler of the kingdom, but during their conversation they accidentally reveal their glass slipper, causing a castle-wide panic that is only halted by Sleeping Beauty. She claims to know of their home world, and says that she was once approached by another who asked her for her spindle to use - the next of the Wishing Spell items. She understands their situation and allows them to borrow it as long as it is returned when they do not need it any longer.
Next, the twins go to the Northern Kingdom - more specifically, to Snow White's castle, where they assume her famed glass coffin is located. They need a jewel from it for their next Wishing Spell item. While there, they manage to break in and discover a secret room filled with artifacts likely belonging to the Evil Queen in her prime, as well as a series of love letters written between a young woman named Evly and a young man named Mira. The two hide when Snow White suddenly enters the room, but soon emerge to ask her where the coffin might be. She reveals that it was returned to the dwarfs after she woke from her deathlike sleep. The twins realize they must go back into the dwarf forests to retrieve the jewel they need.
When Conner and Alex find the Dwarf Mines they are confronted by Malumclaw and his pack, who plan to take them to the Evil Queen as promised. The twins barely manage to escape using an abandoned mine cart, only to find themselves recaptured by the Trolls and Goblins, who plan to charge the twins for the theft of their kings' crown. It turns out that the Big Bad Wolf Pack followed them, and the twins use the distraction of the wolves to escape. Unfortunately, they are still tailed by the wolves and must jump down into Mermaid Bay to save themselves.
Goldilocks, chased by soldiers, manages to escape once again, and hides out in an old barn. There, she is confronted by the Evil Queen, who reveals that Goldilocks was framed as a child - told to meet Jack at the house that turned out to belong to the Three Bears - and by none other than a jealous Red Riding Hood. Realizing that she owes her life on the run to Red's jealously, Goldilocks sets off to capture Queen Red Riding Hood, all according to the Evil Queen's plans.
Alex and Conner, meanwhile, are rescued by the mermaids and their leader, the Sea Foam Spirit, who turns out to be the reincarnated form of the Little Mermaid. She reveals that she knows where to find the next item - a saber traded to the Little Mermaid's sisters that would, if used to kill the prince she had fallen in love with, have allowed her to return to the sea - and tells the twins that it is located in none other than the thorn bush pit in the Sleeping Kingdom.
With charms in tow to protect them from the cursed vines, the twins arrive at the pit and retrieve the dagger, only to narrowly escape death. They are rescued by Froggy, who has been looking for them since they left in an effort to see how much ground they had covered. Froggy asks them to stick around for one more day so that they assist in setting things right with him - as he had mentioned when they first met, his appearance was due to a witch's curse. Immediately after the twins agree, Goldilocks arrives with Queen Red Riding Hood in tow, planning to toss her into the cursed thorn pit. The Evil Queen's Huntress intervenes at the last minute, accompanied by the Big Bad Wolf Pack. The twins, Red, and Goldilocks are all captured.
They are taken back to the Evil Queen, whose mirror reveals that an army headed by Froggy, Porridge, and Jack. The Evil Queen reveals her tragic story to the twins. Her name is Evly, and she was once in love with, and engaged to, a man named Mira. When Evly refused to comply with the wishes of an evil enchantress, her fiance was cursed and trapped inside a mirror, becoming the Queen's Magic Mirror. Evly sought her revenge by killing the Enchantress and began fervently looking for a way to free Mira. She learned quickly that there was no hope, but Hagatha cured her heartbreak by cutting out her heart and turning it to a stone heart. Evly could only feel emotion when she was holding it. Meanwhile, she snaked her way up to the throne of the Northern Kingdom, killing Snow White's mother and marrying the King. Mira's condition began to deteriorate until he became a bland reflection, and he became enamored with Snow White rather than Evly. In a fit of rage the Queen ordered for Snow White's death and set the Huntsman on her trail. The Evil Queen reveals that she wishes to set Mira free using the Wishing Spell, and activates it before the twins' eyes.
Mira is freed, but he is no longer capable of living outside the mirror and dies in Evly's arms. Both are consumed by the mirror that once held Mira captive as the castle is invaded by the army that set out to save the Queen's captives. The Big Bad Wolf Pack is destroyed, and Goldilocks is taken captive, much to Jack's dismay. Red Riding Hood redeems herself by setting Goldilocks free, and Jack sneaks off with her to accompany her on her adventures as a fellow outlaw. Meanwhile, the twins are invited to Cinderella's palace to celebrate the birth of her newborn baby, and learn that one of the guests will be Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. To their surprise, the Fairy Godmother turns out to be the twins' grandmother, who has been looking for them all over. It is learned that the twins' father is the one who wrote the Wishing Spell journal they had been following all along, in an effort to make his way to Earth so he could reunite with the twins' mother, whom he had met on a brief trip with the twins' grandmother. Froggy is revealed to be a prince who turned up missing after he was cursed, and the Fairy Godmother grants him his restored appearance. The twins' grandmother claims to be the only one who can freely pass between dimensions, and gives the twins a doorway to return home. They are happy to be reunited with their mom again.