“After decades of hiding, the evil Enchantress who cursed Sleeping Beauty is back with a vengeance. Alex and Conner Bailey have not been back to the magical Land of Stories since their adventures in The Wishing Spell ended. But one night, they learn the famed Enchantress has 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 fairytale world from the greatest threat it’s ever faced.”
If you haven’t read The Land of Stories The Wishing Spell then please don’t read this review. The review will contain spoilers and commentary of that book and this one. When I first heard that Chris Colfer was writing a book I was skeptical. Most books written by actors are just not good. But I had to buy and read The Wishing Spell because it was written by Colfer. I was curious and I went into reading it skeptically, thinking it would be just a kids book. Something that I would read and be sorry for later. But I wasn’t The Wishing Spell ended up being an well written book, while aimed at kids it definitely sucked me into Conner and Alex the main characters world. The lessons that Alex and Conner learned were universal, something that anyone who picked up the book could relate to and learn themselves. So when The Enchantress Returns was being published I went online and ordered it the day it came out because I enjoyed the first one so much. I wasn’t sure what to think going into a sequel sometimes they are not nearly as good as the originals but this book was not one of those sequels.It sucked me right back into Alex and Conner’s lives and made me want to spend some time on an adventure that brought me back in time too when I was a little kid playing pretend in the back yard.
When the Enchantress Returns starts you find out that a year has passed since Alex and Conner left the fairy tale world. They haven’t heard from their grandmother in all of that time nor have they been back to the fairy tale world. But what Alex and Conner don’t know is that there has been trouble in the fairy tale world. The evil enchantress has returned and is putting their lives in danger. After a series of events the twins once again find themselves back on a quest not only to save themselves this time, but to save the world. I find this second look into the lives of Alex and Conner a much better story this time around. In the first book Colfer spends so much time establishing the characters their back stories and the landscape of the fairy tale world. The story itself fell a little flat. But in the Enchantress Returns he flourishes with the scene set and with some of the characters you already know and love he spins a tale that is rich in childlike innocence humor and fun that you sometimes forget that there is something terrible going on and the life and death problems these characters are facing.
These books at least the first two anyways tend to be a little formulaic. Alex and Conner are in some kind of trouble and they must go on quest to save themselves and the world. I found that I could disregard this because of the rich characters. All the ones we know and love from Disney movies and Grimm’s fairy tales are set on their ear and given real lives and a humanity that is missing from the old movies and tales. Mother Goose is an alcoholic, Red Riding Hood is vain, Goldilocks is an outlaw, Cinderella’s stepmother was only suffering a broken heart, Rumpelstiltskin is a brother to the seven dwarfs. Everyone in the world Colfer created is connected in some way and nothing is really what it seems. Even his villain while definitely evil and bad I found myself sympathizing with the enchantress. I think that was his intention. While I knew she was the villain and that her plan would have awful consequences I almost didn’t want to see her go. I really just wanted to give her a hug, she was a desperate young girl who just wanted to be loved and accepted something that we all want in our own lives. While she went to extremes when she didn’t get them. I did in the end feel sorry for her and wish she could have had a different life.
No book is perfect, and The Enchantress returns was no different. I found that I didn’t care so much what happened to Alex and Conner, I cared more about the fairy tale world and the people in it. Alex and Conner throughout most of the book felt stagnate. They seemed to be almost exactly the same as they were in the first novel. Until the very end I expected more from then, expected them to have learned more from their first trip to the fairy tale world. They are the driving force behind the novel and for most of the book I was found myself a little bit bored with Alex and Conner’s interactions.
Overall I would highly recommend this book, it was a fun and easy read. It had me laughing out loud in parts and wanting to spend much more time immersed in this world. The lessons it was trying to teach were hidden in the personalities histories and interactions of the characters. Colfers second outing in this world surpassed my expectations and was better than the first. While geared toward children, this book is hefty and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Those who love fairy tales, happy endings, and those who are just children at heart.
4 out of 5 stars I would recommend this book.
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