53 pages 1 hour read

Chris Colfer

The Wishing Spell

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2012

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Summary and Study Guide


The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012) is the first book in the middle grade fairy-tale fantasy series The Land of Stories, followed by The Enchantress Returns (2013). The book follows twins Alex and Conner on a journey through the fairy-tale world as they search for a way home. The Wishing Spell was a #1 New York Times bestseller and named one of Barnes & Noble's Best Books of 2012.

Colfer grew up writing and acting. Before becoming an author, he had a career as a television and stage actor and is known for his Golden Globe-winning character Kurt Hummel on the show Glee. He has worked on many projects as an actor, writer, and activist, including a play that helped overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in California, where he currently lives. This guide follows the Little Brown Books for Young Readers 2012 edition of The Wishing Spell.

Plot Summary

The Wishing Spell takes place in both the real world (Earth) and the fairy-tale world (a world made up of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and others). It follows twins Alex and Conner Baily on an adventure across the stories they grew up reading as they discover their ties to fairy tales. A year ago, Alex and Conner’s dad was killed in a car accident, which has left the twins and their mom struggling. Alex throws herself into school, and Conner consoles himself with the knowledge he has friends, but one of the only things that makes the kids truly happy is seeing their grandmother.

When their grandmother comes to visit on their birthday, it’s one of the best days the twins have had in a long time. She gives them her copy of the Land of Stories, the book of fairy tales she and their dad used to read. Over the next few days, the book hums and glows, and while investigating its strange behavior, the twins fall into the book and into the fairy-tale world. Their only hope to get home is to assemble the ingredients of the Wishing Spell, several objects from various fairy tales that can only be used to cast the spell once. Alex and Conner embark on a journey across the fairy-tale world to find the objects.

Meanwhile, Snow White’s wicked stepmother, the Evil Queen, has escaped captivity and seeks the Wishing Spell ingredients for her own purposes. With the help of her former huntsman’s daughter and the Big Bad Wolf Pack, the Evil Queen weaves an ever-tightening net around Conner and Alex, drawing them and the ingredients they’ve collected toward her as she tirelessly works to cast the Wishing Spell.

Alex and Conner meet many characters, such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and visit places like Rapunzel’s tower. Alex can’t get enough of the fairy-tale world, and Conner is concerned about how much his sister falls in love with the place. On their journey, they encounter things from stories their dad used to tell them, making them wonder if their dad was from the fairy-tale world. After narrowly escaping enslavement by the goblins and trolls and a few close calls with the Big Bad Wolf Pack, the twins manage to collect most of the items they need for the Wishing Spell. While gathering the last item, the Big Bad Wolf Pack finally corners them and takes them to the Evil queen.

One of the items needed for the spell is the tear of a fairy, which the twins have collected in a glass bottle. Before the Evil Queen can pour the tear over the other items, Conner kicks the bottle out of her hand, sending it to shatter and the tear to sink into the floor. The twins demand to know why the queen is so evil, and she tells them her story. Years ago, a witch trapped her love in a mirror. Ever since, the Evil Queen has worked to free him, but she’s failed at every turn, even having her heart removed because the pain was too great. The story makes Alex cry, and the Evil Queen collects one of her tears, which activates the Wishing Spell.

The Evil Queen frees her love, who dies in her arms. As she weeps over his body, an army storms the castle to save Conner and Alex, raining cannonballs down on the structure. The twins escape, and the mirror crashes down on the queen and her love, trapping them inside. Unable to use the Wishing Spell, Conner and Alex take some time to relax before starting their search for another way home. At a ball to celebrate the birth of Cinderella’s daughter, Alex and Conner learn that Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother is their grandmother. With their grandmother’s magic, the twins return home, both knowing they’ll return to the fairy-tale world someday.