The Enchantress Returns: The Land of Stories, Book 2

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Enchantress Returns: The Land of Stories, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Adventure, sweetness, peril, some loss in fairy tale sequel.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The creative interpretation of fairy tales that began in The Wishing Spell continues enthusiastically, and kids will have fun comparing these versions with the originals. Several characters, notably Alex and Froggy, are very fond of books and learning, and some of their favorites, e.g. The Complete Works of Shakespeare and the adventure tales of Jules Verne, turn up in creative, often comical ways.

Positive Messages

Strong messages regarding the bonds of family and friendship, the many benefits of teamwork, and why forgiveness is better than revenge.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Conner, Alex, and their friends and family members often show courage, determination, and creativity in coming to the aid of those who need it, whether they're saving the world or dealing with relationship issues. Over the course of the story, several characters learn a lot about themselves and how to deal with their responsibilities.

Violence & Scariness

There's not much gore, but there's both emotional and physical violence galore: the Evil Enchantress kidnaps and imprisons the twins' mother and a baby, among her other victims; she also destroys the only thing a character loves, just for the fun of destroying it. Many people and other beings are killed in vain attempts to withstand her, though the carnage takes place offscreen. The Enchantress also keeps in tiny jars the souls of various people who've crossed her. More comically, the swashbuckling Goldilocks urges Alex to bring a sword to school to deal with the mean girls.

Language

Occasional "damn," "crap," and mild bathroom humor, e.g. a puppy pees on a character. Also some superficially innocent phrases that will go right by little kids and startle adults, such as, "he could see the vines dragging the screaming queens ..."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Enchantress Returns is the second installment in Glee star Chris Colfer's Land of Stories series; the first book, The Wishing Spell, hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Colfer's many subplots gallop along at a breakneck pace, mixing swordplay, high tragedy, low comedy, poignant partings, and tender reunions in a creative tale with positive values and great heart. Colfer's narrative voice is often like that of a precocious, snarky middle-schooler, blending slang, pretentious words, and occasional innuendo with gusto. Some heavy issues, including the death of parents and other losses, mix with wisecracks and fantasy.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShannon Farese May 10, 2016

Good but iffy for age 8

I enjoyed reading this book with my children but I must say, considering the recommend age of 8 and up, I was a little surprised with some of the content. One... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous May 18, 2015

Takes quite awhile to get started, really engaging when it does

The first half of the book isn't very engaging, but maybe that's just me. Once it gets into the actual problem and the action, it's really exciti... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old August 9, 2014

A great book for any age!

I think it is better than the first book (Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell). You should read the series in order because the second book starts out talking ab... Continue reading

What's the story?

Since they got home from the Land of Stories following the adventures in The Wishing Spell, Conner and Alex Bailey, now 13, have often missed their fairy-tale-character companions and longed to return. When their mother suddenly disappears, they soon learn that she's been abducted to the fairytale world by an enchantress who seems bent on destroying everything in her path. Defying their grandmother, who's trying to keep them safe, they figure out a way to get back to the Land of Stories, where they quickly reunite with Froggy, Goldilocks, Jack, Red, et al in a quest to save the twins' mother, a kidnapped baby, and the world.

Is it any good?

Author Chris Colfer's narrative balance of wisdom and wisecracks frequently strikes an odd note in THE ENCHANTRESS RETURNS, but many kids will find that part of the charm. His breezy, engaging style sometimes doesn't quite work with the emotional and ethical issues that drive many characters; squabbling queen-zillas, beloved people dying or in mortal danger, happy reunions and dramatic reversals follow one another with video-game-like pacing and keep the pages turning, though sometimes at the expense of character development beyond the cartoon stage.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why new stories about familiar characters are so popular. How do you feel about the fairy tale characters who appear here compared with the versions of them in other stories?

  • Traditionally, fairy tales were used to teach lessons. Do you think there are any lessons being taught here? If so, what do you think they are?

  • Why do you think the Enchantress and Alex turned out so differently when they seem to have a lot in common?

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