I was very fortunate to be able to get a copy of the ARC at BEA this summer. Actually, I got two copies, and if you read to the end of this post, you’ll see a giveaway for this book! But on with my review! I know that this is partly getting lots of buzz because of who the author is, Chris Colfer from Glee, but I also feel like it is a very good book. As I scrolled through the reviews on Goodreads.com, I was first shocked to see the average rating was below 4 stars! Yes, I can agree with those who talked about the length, it is a bit long, but think of how long Harry Potter is!! I saw another review that mentioned it sounded like it was written by a child. Well, that kind of makes sense when you think about how long Colfer says he’s been working on it! Since he was 10 years old! I think if it reads that way, it does in a good way, a way that will pull kids in to read it, because it sounds like how they would think. I also saw a complaint about editing? Well, since I assume they also have an ARC like I do, yes, I saw some issues too, but that is why it is called an ARC, not a final copy. And there are my rebuttals to the negative issues brought up.
Now, I have to say how much I enjoyed the book! I do love a good fairy tale retelling. There are several reviews I’ve posted of these types of books, as well as I really enjoyed the new show Once Upon a Time this past year. In fact, the story in here reminded me a bit of what was going on in the show. I mean really, as kids, the evil queens and such are just evil. But what if there is a reason why they became that way, something happened in their past to make them miserable and evil. While the back story is different in this book than in Once Upon a Time, I thought it fit really well.
The main characters are Alex and Conner Bailey. They are twins and almost opposite personalities, Alex is the teacher’s pet in a way, she’s always answering questions, paying attention, etc. Conner is the boy in the back of the room, always falling asleep and getting in trouble. They lost their father, and their life has changed quite a bit as their mother has had to start working more to afford to take care of them. Their grandmother stops by for their birthday and gives them the fairy tale book they loved being read to from as children. Only Alex soon discovers that the book isn’t just a book, it is a portal into the stories. And once they fall into the book, they must find a way home, but of course, they have something the evil queen wants as well. And we find out what connection the kids really have to this storybook. I guessed kind of who the guy who wrote the Wishing Spell journal was pretty soon on, and was glad to see I was correct, but I didn’t guess right out who the biggest connection would be.
We get to glimpse all the old fairy tales and nursery rhymes and their characters in the story land. And one thing I hope, since the ARC didn’t have it, is that the maps that Chris Colfer drew and then had the illustrator re-draw for the book are actually in the book. Maybe on the back of the jacket, or the inside of the cover? I loved the maps, I love how much work Colfer put into this. I think it is such a great incentive for students who are already doing the same thing. Yes, I know it is his celebrity status that got him published, but to me it means that kids can see an example of how what they dream about and work on now can eventually, if they really want it and work at it, become a reality. I mean I already love his portrayal of the character on Glee for my students to begin feeling more comfortable with themselves in public. (Not that Glee has anything to do with the book itself, just throwing that in there).
In conclusion, I loved it, I can see it being a big hit, and the way it was left, I can definitely see a second book! I just hope that Chris Colfer has lots more stories to share from his writing in this magical land!
Now, who wants to win a copy?