Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Land of Stories concluded

A couple years ago, I reviewed the first four books of a non-Oz fantasy series on the blog because the fourth book had a little visit to Oz: Chris Colfer's The Land of Stories. In that review, I happened to say this:
There also seems to be an overarching plot in the series, but to discuss that further might drop too many spoilers. It might be coming to a head at the end of Beyond the Kingdoms, or else we might be in for a huge twist.
Turns out I was right as the series has released its sixth and final book, Worlds Collide. There are spin-off books already, from a diary of Colfer's take on Mother Goose, to a treasury book of classic fairy tales that play into The Land of Stories, to a couple of picture books. With the series concluded, a film adaptation of the series is set to begin pre-production, and the author has teased he has ideas for more spin-offs.

Well, for the sake of being complete and the thin excuse that the Tin Woodman reappears in the fifth and sixth books, as well as the Wicked Witch of the West also popping up in the final book, let's take a look at those two books.

An Author's Odyssey winds up being the bridging chapter between Beyond the Kingdoms and Worlds Collide, and I felt was the weakest book in the series. Not that it was bad, but while it introduces many great new characters and has some exciting twists and plot developments, it doesn't really stand on its own.

Using the Portal Potion, Conner and Alex dive into Conner's own short stories to recruit the heroes of his own tales to assist in the fight against the Masked Man and the witches who he's won to his side. There's pirates, space cyborgs, mummies, superheroes, and even a "rosary chicken" who resulted from a misspelling of "rosemary." Meanwhile, things are not developing well in the Land of Stories as the witches prepare for their assault on "the Otherworld." Also, where are all the realized fictional characters going to stay?

This brings us to the last book, Worlds Collide. It opens with an 80 year old Conner at an event celebrating his books, when a fan asks him a question he can't recall the answer to: what happened to his twin sister Alex?

And then picking up where An Author's Odyssey left off, we cycle through a number of plots, leading to a big showdown that goes from the Land of Stories to New York City, starting at The New York Public Library and leading into the streets as the attacking witches have cursed Alex to do their bidding. It's an exciting ending that sees all of the characters come back to make a united front against wicked magic, but will it be enough? And will all of our friends make it out alive?

There is, surprisingly, a scene where a character writes a short story about J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum coming back to life so they can use the Portal Potion to consult with the authors on how to defeat the villains they created. Unfortunately, this visit is not described and the character only reports on what they learned. When they talk about consulting with Baum, they briefly mention "it's nice to know the movie depicted something correctly."

Overall, I was glad with how the series ended and would still recommend it to other Oz fans interested in other fantasy series. Colfer keeps his characterizations strong and his gift of giving the characters delightful dialogue is still very much at play. And—as said—there's a few Oz Easter eggs in the series for fans.

Sigh. Well, what do I read now? Hmm, what's this from Christmas last year?

Uh oh.

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