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Literature / The Land of Stories

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The Land of Stories is described by its author Chris Colfer as a "modern day fairytale," following twins Alex and Conner Bailey as they fall from the real world into a world full of fairytales they have only ever read about before. But after run-ins with trolls, goblins, wolves, and witches, getting home might be more difficult than they thought.

The series began in 2012 and concluded in 2017. The six entries are:

  1. The Wishing Spell
  2. The Enchantress Returns
  3. A Grimm Warning
  4. Beyond the Kingdoms
  5. An Author's Odyssey
  6. Worlds Collide

There is also a prequel series titled The Tale Of Magic.


  • Abhorrent Admirer: Princess Trollbella loves chasing Conner, although this trait is most prominent in the first two books.
  • Aborted Arc: In the forth book, Auburn Sally proposes that all fictional stories are actually alternate dimensions that the author was the first to discover. This theory, or if it's even correct, is never brought up again.
  • Action Girl: Goldilocks and the Huntress, although the later is more of a Dark Action Girl.
  • Adaptation Distillation: This makes it so that the Prince Charmings of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White are all brothers.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Queen of Hearts is played a lot more seriously than in her original story.
  • All Myths Are True: Many fairy tales (if not all) are real tales from The Land of Stories.
  • Alliterative Family: All four of the Charming brothers have names that begin with the letters "Ch," also making them all have an Alliterative Name.
    • Although Cinderella’s name doesn’t start with “Ch,” she also counts as this, as her name after marriage is “Cinderella Charming.”
  • Alternate History:
    • The fact that Froggy’s background didn’t ring any bells for the twins, even after learning about a long lost prince, implies the tale of The Frog Prince doesn’t exist.
    • The President of the United States is a woman, despite that not having happened yet.
  • And I Must Scream: What happens to Mira, Evly,and Froggy, who are all in magic mirrors, and the 24 missing children, who are having their youth drained for Morina's potions.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Conner is the younger twin and Alex is occasionally embarrassed by his irresponsibility.
  • Another Dimension: The Land of Stories take place in a world physically separate from the story's version of Earth.
  • The Artifact: The Corner Kingdom and Rapunzel have no plot significance after The Wishing Spell, so for the rest of the series they kind of just...exist.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Little Mermaid after her death, becoming the Sea Foam Spirit.
  • As You Know:
    • The author of the journal writes down the most basic knowledge about the fairy tale world, despite having no way of knowing that anyone who hasn’t spent their whole lives in the Land of Stories would come across the book.
    • Due to The Little Mermaid beign among one of the most changed fairy tales, the book had to inform the audience how the actual tale differs from more well known versions. The Little Mermaid recites her story, despite even her admitting it’s common knowledge.
  • Author Avatar: In universe. When Connor grows up, he turns his adventures into a book series called “Fairytaletopia.” Based on the titles, the books are identical to what happened to him. He even made the main character be a girl named Connie with a twin brother named Alec.
  • Badass Bookworm: Alex, Bree, and arguably Conner.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Evil Queen for The Wishing Spell.
    • The Enchantress for The Enchantress Returns.
    • General Marquis for A Grimm Problem.
    • The Masked Man for Beyond the Kingdoms and An Author's Odyssey.
  • Brick Joke: When establishing the twins father in the first novel, he tells his daughter a story about a curvy tree and his son a story about a fish that wished for legs. At the end of Connor’s story, he tells him he preferred the story about the Curvy Tree.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Alex and Conner are twins who have to escape the fairy tale world together. By book two, it becomes downplayed, with multiple characters tagging along and them choosing to live in different dimensions.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: From Book 3 onward.
  • Child of Two Worlds: The twins are called this virtually by name. They were the first children to born to a human from the Otherworld and a fairy from the Land of Stories. Their birth was so phenomenal it caused the two worlds to stop moving at vastly different rates.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: After its introduction in "The Wishing Spell", the story of the Curvy Tree and the Walking Fish return in "A Grimm Warning" in which they're stories Conner wrote for his English class, but then its revealed the Brothers Grimm wrote about the stories three hundred years prior. This makes Bree suspicious of Conner over knowing about the stories three centuries before the world did.
  • Chekhov's Gun: While he was still alive, the twins' father told his children a story about a curvy tree that was spared from being chopped down, and a fish that wished for legs. Alex and Conner later come across the actual version of both these stories, which makes them realize that their dad is from the Land of Stories.
  • Cool Old Lady:
    • The twins' grandmother is literally the Fairy Godmother and head fairy in the fairy tale world.
    • Mother Goose is the Fairy Godmother's best friend and also is very close to Conner.
    • Cornelia Grimm Bree's distant cousin learned how to fly sometime in the sixties and is willing to help her fifteen-year-old cousin learn the same way she did although, the same way her father taught her, she secretly had autopilot on the whole time.
    • Finally, Emgee appears to be just as much of a badass as her namesake and inspiration, Mother Goose.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Froggy says it's exhausting having to relearn how to walk and eat every time he transforms into a frog or human, meaning it takes him a while to get used to the differences between his bodies.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Conner, who snarks in almost every single scene he's in.
  • December–December Romance: Merlin and Mother Goose, who fall in love and decide to stay together in Beyond the Kingdoms
  • Disney Villain Death: The Masked Man's first "death" involves the flying monkeys dropping him into the woods, while his second, actual death involves him being dragged into a grave by zombies. It Makes Sense In Context.
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Birthday: In the third book, Alex is so preoccupied with training as a fairy she forgets her fourteenth birthday. In the fifth book, both of the twins are so worried about saving both worlds from their uncle they forget about their fifteenth birthday.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The third book is titled A Grimm Warning because it features a warning from the Brothers Grimm that is grim in of itself.
  • Deus Angst Machina: The Evil Queen's backstory is kind of over the top with tragedy, including multiple accounts of parental death and enslavement.
  • Dumb Blonde: Unlike most adaptations, Red Riding Hood isn't brunette. She's blond to exacerbate her stupidity.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: The more dark magic a witch performs, the more grotesque features they gain.
  • Evil Twin: Lloyd is a spitting image of the twins' father, and wants to dictate the universe.
  • First-Episode Twist:
    • It’s hard to talk about the plot of the books past “The Wishing Spell” without mentioning the twins’s dad is from The Land of Stories and their grandmother is the Fairy Godmother.
    • Granted, it’s pretty easy to guess, but Froggy being a prince.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Zigzagged. At school, Alex is hardworking while Conner can barely stay awake. But when they get trapped in the Land of Stories, Conner is more focused on getting home, while his sister is treating it like a vacation. Conner also matures an awful lot as he finds his place in the world.
  • Forced Transformation: Froggy is a human that turned into a large frog by a curse. He's actually the missing Charming prince, and is briefly returned to his human form, but later discovers he's actually better off as a frog, and decides to stay as one.
  • Foreshadowing: When the twins are discussing the meaning behind certain fairy tales, all of the ones mentioned Alex and Connor later come across in some form.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Evil Queen uses her horrific backstory as justification for her actions.
  • Gossipy Hens: The four members of the Book Huggers - Cindy, Lindy, Mindy, and Wendy - are a cross between this and Conspiracy Theorists, to the point where their parents take them to see a psychologist.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Alex and Conner are half fairy.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Alex and Conner are described as looking just like each other numerous times.
  • Hufflepuff House:
    • The Corner Kingdom is the only human led kingdom where the male leader isn't a Charming brother. As such, it doesn't get nearly as much focus as the others.
    • The Elf Empire is the only area the twins don't visit in the first book. It isn't until A Grimm Warning where it has a minor plot point, after which it fades into the background again.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Red's clothes are all absurdly extravagant, but this was especially the case with her original wedding dress or when the then-bachelor Jack would visit her.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Alex is very smart, which makes her intimidating to all the other students. As such, she has no friends other than her twin brother.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The series starts to move into darker territory once General Marquis and the Masked Man show up. Morina and the Queen of Hearts are looking to take things further.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Subverted. At the end of book three, Alex claims the Masked Man is their deceased father. In book four, it’s revealed the Masked Man is actually their uncle, making it a downplayed version of this trope.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Not only does the Fairy Tale world incorporate all of the various fairy tales, but later books also incorporate works of classic literature such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Peter Pan.
    • The fifth book also incorporates several short stories written by Conner and Bree.
  • Meaningful Echo: The end of An Author's Odyssey for a quote in The Wishing Spell.
    Alex/ Chief of Staff: Our/My most educated analysis, with all means of science and technology in mind, is that it's magic.
  • Meaningful Name: Mira, who was turned into The Magic Mirror, Evly, whose name anagrams to Evyl, thus sounding like 'evil.', and Alex ('Defender').
  • New Media Are Evil: Mrs. Peters seems to believe this at least.
  • Non Human Lover Reveal: Inverted. Red takes a liking to Froggy when they first meet, but when she learns that he's actually a cursed human prince she starts thinking of him as husband material.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Despite being a natal human, Froggy enjoys drinking lily pad tea and eating flies, implying the curse eventually affected his mind as well.
  • Not in Kansas Anymore: Parodied. When they enter into The Wizard of Oz, Connor takes a look at the dreary landscape and concludes that they’re not in Kansas anymore-and by that he means they’re actually in Kansas.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Downplayed. Most people call Froggy by his real name, but Alex, Conner, and the narration exclusively call him Froggy.
  • Opposites Attract: Froggy spent years ashamed, embarrassed, and hating himself. Meanwhile, Red is vain to the point that no one could ever cause her to lose her confidence. It's because of this exact reason that Froggy fell in love with her.
  • Outlaw Couple: Jack abandons his status as a hero so he can live a life of crime with the love of his life Goldilocks.
  • Posthumous Character: The twins' father died a year before the first book took place.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation: Witchcraft gradually distorts the user's physical appearance over time, so, the more disgusting and inhuman a witch looks, the better at witchcraft they are.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Queen Red, regardless of the situation, will always be decked out in an elaborate ballgown and tiara.
  • Retcon: In “The Wishing Spell,” Froggy claims he was cursed as a punishment for being vain. In “Beyond the Kingdoms,” the story changes into him being cursed because Morina thought he was breaking up with her for being ugly, despite the real reason being that she was a witch.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: In the prologue for the book that proceeds the Luke, I Am Your Father twist, we are shown the Fairy Godmother had two children-the twins father, who acts exactly like one would expect based on previous descriptions of him, and Lloyd, a withdrawn, power hungry young boy. They also look exactly like one another. Yeah, guess which brother was actually behind the Masked Man? A good portion of the book hinges on when the twins will figure this out.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mrs. Peters, at least in the first book, and at least towards students other than Alex. She blatantly favors one student above all the others, although when Alex leaves for the Land of Stories, she begins character development into a Stern Teacher instead and comes to enjoy Conner's stories.
  • Sadly Mythtaken:
    • Mrs. Peters refers to Perrault's The Sleeping Beauty as "the original version". Given the oral nature of folklore, no such thing exists and even if it did, there are much older and nastier versions of this particular tale type.
    • Medusa's eyes will turn you to stone even through a reflection. This was not the case with the original myths; in fact, the hero Perseus famously managed to decapitate Medusa because he was looking at her through his shield's reflection.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Where Alex is an overachieving "A" student and an optimist in love with fairy tales, Conner is extremely lazy in school and a sarcastic skeptic.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter what happens, some plot point always causes Froggy to turn back into a frog. By book three, Colfer gave up on creating excuses and had him live as a frog permanently.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: The Fairy Godmother calls her sons striking images of their father. They look so much alike John’s own children mistook them for the same person.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Every time Froggy transforms, he has to relearn how to walk, eat, and function. The process is so exhausting he eventually refuses to turn back into a human after yet another switch.
  • Trapped in Another World:
    • The plot of the first book is about the twins trying to find the Wishing Spell items so they can get back home.
    • In the fourth book, Lloyd tricks them into going into the worlds of King Arthur and Robin Hood without an easy way of getting out.
  • Uneven Hybrid: Morina, a witch, states that her grandfather was a troll, meaning that she is most likely 3/4 witch and 1/4 troll.
    • Connor’s children are also this, as he, a half-human half-fairy, has children with a human, making them 3/4 human and 1/4 fairy.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Connor calls the Fairy Council out on how they were punishing a fairy who lost her temper and turned the wings of another fairy who was teasing her into prune leaves for a few seconds (and how they were ready to banish her), but they weren't doing anything about the Trolls and Goblins enslaving people. Though they don't show their shame, they all admit that he's right, and the fairy is pardoned.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: After their father's death, Charlotte has had to work overtime at the hospital to support being a newly single mother for her twin children.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The Distant Finale states that Goldilocks broke her hip trying to teach her grandchildren to do backflips. The way it’s worded implies her grandchildren are pretty young. Goldilocks is approximately ninety therenote and at that age, pretty much everyone’s grandchildren would already be adults.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Time on Earth passes faster than in the Land of Stories, allowing the twins to meet Cinderella, etc, despite their tales being centuries old. Though due to the twins' birth the worlds have begun moving at a similar speed.