|An Author's Odyssey|
|Original title||The Land of Stories: An Author's Odessey|
|Cover Artist||Brandon Dorman|
|Publisher||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
|Release date||12 July 2016|
|Genre||fantasy, children's literature|
|Preceded by||Beyond the Kingdoms|
|Followed by||Worlds Collide|
Dedications, Epigraphs, and Acknowledgements
Dedication: To Will, for playing hours of How Do You Spell?, What's funnier?, Would a Ten-Year-Old Understand It?, and other interactive games while I write. Thanks for being my secret weapon.
Epigraph: "A writer is a world trapped in a person." -Victor Hugo
Acknowledgements: I'd like to thank Rob Weisbach, Alla Plotkin, Rachel Karten, Derek Kroeger, Heather Manzutto, Marcus Colen, Jerry Maybrook, and the amazing Brandon Dorman. Also, I couldn't have written this book without the support of Alvina Ling, Bethany Strout, Melanie Chang, Nikki Garcia, Megan Tingley, Andrew Smith, Kristin Dulaney, Svetlana Keselman, and everyone at Little, Brown. And, of course, all my friends and family! Thanks for being mine!
Plot by Chapter
Prologue: The Favorite Student
Mrs. Peters is celebrated as she retires from her job as Principal of Alex’ and Conner’s school. After the party, she revisits her old classroom, just as Alex and Conner arrive via a portal to find Conner’s stories. Mrs. Peters is delighted to discover they are from the fairy tale world, and tells them she once met the Fairy Godmother as a child. She gives them Conner’s stories and admits how fond she is of them and Conner.
Chapter One: The Masked Empire
The Land of Stories is under attack from all sides. The towns and castles are pillaged, the forests and fields burned down. All of the civilians are taken as prisoners. The Masked Man has appointed himself Emperor. He wants to have the royal families executed, but Goldilocks, Jack and the Tin Woodman rescue them just in time. The royal families join hundreds of land of stories refugees from all kingdoms, hiding in a large cave. Among them is the Travelling Tradesman, who uses the Lost Boys’ marbles to look into the future. Not everyone is convinced, but they trust Alex and Conner.
Chapter Two: Grounded
Alex and Conner decide that the best place to keep the literary characters from Conner’s stories until they collect them all is their mom’s house. She’s very upset that they haven’t been in touch. She agrees that she will help them, but not until she comes home from work and they shared a family meal.
Chapter Three: The Fallen Emperor
The literary villains are not happy with the Masked Man. He hasn’t kept his promises to them. Meanwhile, the creature that turned the Fairy Council to stone has escaped, and the Masked Man’s armies return defeated without the royal families. The Masked Man realizes the twins must have escaped the book trap he set for them. The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook and the Wicked Witch of the West band together to get rid of the Masked Man and take over the reign of the Land of Stories. They command the winged monkeys to drop the Masked Man over a forest.
Chapter Four: A Nice Family Dinner
The Bookhuggers are in a slump. They try to distract themselves from the disappearance of Alex and Conner but to no avail. Then, they see the twins at the Storybook Grill. Alex and Conner explain to Bob and their mother what has happened in the fairy tale world, and they agree to help them. The Bookhuggers have listened in on the whole conversation.
Chapter Five: Cries From The Castle
Bree and the Sisters Grimm fly to Germany in an old war plane to find out more about Emmerich’s kidnapping. Bree has a go flying with them and learns to fly the plane as well. They talk to Emmerich’s mother and find out he was left at Neuschwanstein as a baby, and conclude he must be from the fairy tale world.
Chapter Six: A Bewitching Offer
The Masked Man has survived his fall and overhears the Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook and the Wicked Witch of the West have make a deal with Morina. The witch tells them about the planned attack on the Otherworld by the Snow Queen and the Sea Witch, and offers to take over the Otherworld with them afterwards. Morina also tells them the Masked Man won’t be any trouble because she has his son, Emmerich. Now knowing he has a son, the Masked Man immediately sees a world of opportunities for revenge.
Chapter Seven: The Captain And Her Crew
Alex and Conner enter Conner’s first short story, Starboardia, to ask the female pirate captain Auburn Sally for help. She resembles Goldilocks a lot because Conner based Auburn Sally of Goldilocks. Auburn Sally and her pirate crew don’t understand what Conner means when he says he’s 'the author of their story'- in their world, they are real. They capture the twins. The British navy attacks, lead by Admiral Jacobson (who strongly resembles Jack), but the pirates win. The sailors are locked up below decks with the twins, but neither their admiral or the men mind very much. Conner tries to convince Auburn Sally to listen to him by telling her something only he would know because he wrote it, but she seems to ignore him.
Chapter Eight: The Wrath Of Smoky-Sails Sam
Alex teases Conner a little about writing a love story between Auburn Sally and Admiral Jacobson, with Conner protesting that although there were some love elements, Starbordia was a definite pirate adventure. Meanwhile, the smoke from the battle between the pirates and the navy has attracted the villain of Conner’s story, Smokey-Sails Sam, just as Conner wrote it. After proving to Auburn Sally that he really knows her story, Conner offers her a way to defeat the other pirate if she’ll help him save the Land of Stories. The British navy sailors also join forces with them. They then set sail for the island Starboardia.
Chapter Nine: Sailing Circles Around The Bermuda Triangle
Still heading to Starboardia, Conner explains that it is an island with a fortress and they can use it to defeat Smokey-Sails Sam. Alex uses a bit of her magic to help them along the way but also tells Conner she is very impressed with his writing.
Chapter Ten: Starboardia
The pirates fight, aided by Alex and Conner, and eventually, Smokey-Sails Sam and his crew are defeated. Auburn Sally and her pirates, and Admiral Jacobson and his men join the twins on their quest.
Chapter Eleven: Curses
The Sea Witch and the Snow Queen reveal their plans to bewitch Alex to the other witches (and Emmerich, who is their captive, and the Masked Man, who is listening in). They put a powerful spell on a bag of magic dust from an ancient mirror that will make Alex as destructive as Ezmia was. Morina offers to find Alex in the Otherworld to make sure she ingests the dust.
Chapter Twelve: Making A Splash on Sycamore Drive
The twins bring the pirates to the Otherworld and “park” the Dolly Llama in Charlotte and Bob’s swimming pool. They then start into Conner’s next story, which is set in space, in the future: Galaxy Queen.
Chapter Thirteen: Galaxy Queen
Alex and Conner are taken aboard the spaceship BASK-8 lead by the Cyborg Queen, who resembles Red in temperament. She is collecting planets for her solar system, just like how Red is collecting estate. Conner offers to help her get one special planet she really wants in exchange for her army's aid.
Chapter Fourteen: Universal Pests
The twins manage to exterminate the horrific Polycrabs on the planet the Cyborg Queen wants, but not without nearly being eaten by the nightmarish bugs. In the process they find a perculia creature called a bliss worm 🐛 which is happy no matter what happens. The Queen and her army agree to come to the Otherworld with them.
Chapter Fifteen: The Apple Meets The Tree
The Masked Man frees Emmerich from the witches and pretends to be a friendly helper, sent by Alex and Conner (“their favorite uncle”). Emmerich believes him.
Chapter Sixteen: Full House And Full Hearts
Auburn Sally’s pirates are wreaking havoc in Charlotte and Bob’s house, and with the twins bringing another army in, they decide to move them all to an empty wing in the hospital where Charlotte and Bob work. Alex and Conner go back to the Land of Stories to tell everyone the good news and to ask for help babysitting the characters. Meanwhile, Alex is thinking about Arthur and he is thinking about her too. Mother Goose gives him some good advice.
Chapter Seventeen: Regrouping
Back in the Land of Stories, Alex and Conner find the former hideout of the refugees empty. Cornelius leads them to their new hiding place and Rook shows them inside. Everyone there assumes the Masked Man is dead. A large group of friends joins them to the Otherworld. Unfortunately for the others, the Masked Man’s creature has followed Alex and Conner into the cave and turns everyone who is still there to stone.
Chapter Eighteen: Saint Andrew's Children's Hospital
The twins bring Conner’s characters to the hospital, where they meet the literary characters and the Land of Stories characters. Alex and Conner prepare to go into the next story, the Ziblings, which is about four children with superpowers along with their dad.
Chapter Nineteen: The Ziblings
Alex and Conner arrive inside the story in time to witness the heroes stopping a bank robbery. The youngest Zibling, Bolt, arrives first, on his own, and it doesn’t go very well. The Rat Pack has him tied to a chair when Bolt’s three older siblings show up and save the day, scolding Bolt for trying to do it alone. Alex notices how this makes Bolt feel, and worries if Conner might have based the story on their own lives and the way she used to make him feel.
Chapter Twenty: Professor Wallet's Secret Laboratory
The twins secretly hitch a ride to the superhero lab of the Ziblings and witness them being called to action. The Snake Lord, their adversary, is threatening the city of Paris. The three older Ziblings don’t let Bolt join them, and when they have left, he sits by himself and cries. Alex apologizes to Conner for not noticing that she may have treated him like the older Ziblings treat Bolt.
Chapter Twenty-One: City Of Lightning
The three older Ziblings are captured by the Snake Lord, who threatens to turn all the citizens of Paris into reptiles. Conner realizes Bolt needs a pep talk before he can come to his full superpowers and save everyone. In his story, Bolt's father takes care of this, but that would mean the twins would have to stay in the story for several days. Conner talks to Bolt about his own experiences, and it works. Bolt saves the day and is now a true superhero.
Chapter Twenty-Two: A Castle Of Questions
Emmerich helps the Masked Man open the portal to Neuschwanstein, despite a bad feeling he has started to have about the man. Bree and the Sisters Grimm are just investigating the portal from the other side when they come out. While Emmerich and Bree catch up, the Masked Man reveals his true colors and threatens them at gunpoint to take him to the twins’ house.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Familiar Strangers
Red has finally caught up with what the others have realized at first sight: Conner's characters are based on them (though she thinks Auburn Sally is based on her). Some of Charlotte’s co-workers from the hospital discover their uninvited guests, forcing Charlotte to make up a lie on the spot to explain all the characters. She says they will be putting on a play for the hospital's children. Trollbella volunteers to write, direct and narrate a play about herself. Alex stays to help while Conner travels into the next story, Blimp Boy, accompanied by his mother (at her request).
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Adventures Of Blimp Boy
Conner and Charlotte enter the world of the relic-hunting archaeologist Blimp Boy, Beau Rogers. They meet him and his grandmother Emgee (based on Mother Goose). Because of Charlotte’s remarks, Beau finds out they are after the same Egyptian talisman he is about to try and find. This talisman controls an army of mummies. After some discussion, Beau grudgingly agrees to make it a race with Conner. Before they get there, Charlotte tells Conner she is sorry she was always so busy and that she wasn’t the mom she wanted to be, but Conner reassures her that she is present both in his life and his stories. Conner and Beau race into the pyramid, and because Conner knows his way around his own story better, he is winning. Then Beau is attacked by mummies, and instead of going for the talisman, Conner helps him. They agree to share the talisman - Beau can have it back when Conner has used it to save the Land of Stories.
Chapter Twenty-Five: "The Life And Times Of Queen Trollbella"
The Bookhuggers have been taken to the hospital after fainting at the diner. They talk to Dr. Jackson, Charlotte’s co-worker, and tell her all about what they heard. She tells them it’s all part of the play Charlotte told her about. The play is a big success, despite Trollbella taking some liberties with her storytelling. After the play, Goldilocks goes into labor. As they reach the operating room, Bree, Emmerich, and Cornelia are there.. .and so is the Masked Man.
Chapter Twenty-Six: Alex Alone
Alex is cornered by Morina, who blows the cursed dust in her face. The curse takes effect, changing how Alex sees herself and everyone around her, and filling her with anger.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Cemetery Of The Undead
The Masked Man has a plan to transfuse all of Emmerich’s blood into his own body to regain his magic. He forces Charlotte and Goldilocks to go along with him and steals an ambulance from the hospital. Conner diverts them into his story binder, but instead of arriving in Blimp Boy, they arrive in one of Bree’s stories that were in the binder by mistake. The story is based on what break time is like in a public high school. Its real story is about a cemetery of zombies, whose inhabitants come alive every time at midnight. Charlotte tricks the Masked Man by giving him a sedative during the transfusion and they are able to escape. The Masked Man finds them again and threatens to shoot them, but zombie Bo Peep, one of the characters Bree wrote into the cemetery, orders the other zombies to attack, and the Masked Man ends up underground. Bo Peep and Emmerich meet; Goldilocks gives birth to a healthy baby boy, and she names him Hero.
Chapter Twenty-Eight: A Situation
When Conner and the others return to the hospital, they find out that all the Land of Stories refugees were turned to stone, and that Alex is missing. Meanwhile, the president of the United States is informed that there is “a situation” in New York.
Praise for the Land of Stories Series:
"It will hit big with its combination of earnestness and playful poise." (The New York Times Book Review).
"It's hard not to love [the book]...Colfer gets off many good lines [and] the nifty ending ties the plot's multiple strands up while leaving room for further fairy tale adventures." (Publishers Weekly).
"A magical debut." (Family Circle).
"Captivating." (Teen Vogue).
"In The Land of Stories, Colfer showcases his talent for crafting fancifully imaginative plots and multidimensional characters." (Los Angeles Times).
"There's more in Colfer's magic kingdoms than Disney has dreamt of." (USA Today).