For The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (book), click here.

The land of stories pic

Artwork by tumblr user suitfer. [posted with permission]

The Wishing Spell is a legendary spell composed of a list of items which need to be collected and put together. If done so correctly, the Wishing Spell will grant you your one true wish, no matter how extravagant. Most people believe it to only be a myth and a childish legend but many have tried their luck nonetheless, spending (and often losing) their lives trying to collect the items. Hence, it is deemed impossible to find all of them and put them together.[1]

While most of the items are obviously dangerous to get, it still seems to be the twins' best shot at getting back home after falling into the Land of Stories. In the course of the first book, they find out it can only be used twice.

The Wishing Spell: A Closer Look

At the beginning of their journey, Froggy gives the twins a journal that he thinks may help them to get back home[2]. It is written by a man from the Charming Kingdom (Alex and Conner's father, as it turns out later) who managed to collect all the items to put the Wishing Spell together and wrote about his journey. In his journal, he claims that his wish is to reunite with a woman he fell in love with in another world. Though first hearing about the Wishing Spell from the Traveling Tradesman, it is the witch Hagatha who tells Mr. Bailey what he has to do in order to collect all the items by giving him a riddle.

"Glass that housed a lonely soul up 'til midnight's final toll,

A saber from the deepest sea, meant for a groom's mortality,

the bark of a basket held in fright while running from a bark with bite,

a stony crown that's made to share, found deep within a savage lair.

A needle that pierced the lovely skin of a princess with beauty found within.

A wavy lock of golden rope that once was freedom's only hope.

Glittering jewels whose value increased after preserving the false deceased,

teardrops of a maiden fairy feeling neither magical nor merry[3]."

By reading the journal, the twins learn that eight items need to be collected to make the Wishing Spell complete. Parts of the riddle are easy for them to figure out, due to their prior knowledge of fairy tales. Thus, they know right away that: the 'needle that pierced the lovely skin' is the spindle on Sleeping Beauty's Spinning Wheel, the 'wavy lock of golden rope' is a lock of Rapunzel's hair, the 'glittering jewels' are the jewels of Snow White's coffin when she was thought dead, the 'bark of a basket' refers to Red Riding Hood's basket that she carried with her, and the 'glass that housed a lonely soul' is actually the result of a mishearing of 'a lonely sole', and therefore refers to Cinderella's glass slipper.

Furthermore, they decide that in order to get the 'teardrops of a maiden fairy', they simply need to 'find an upset fairy and collect her tears[4]'.

With that knowledge in mind -- and despite not having solved the riddle completely due to a few pages of the journal missing -- Alex and Conner embark on the greatest scavenger hunt of their lives.

Retrieving the Items

The easiest item for the twins to collect was the lock of Rapunzel's hair, as they started reading the journal after climbing her tower.

Unbeknownst to them, they weren't not the only ones trying to use the Wishing Spell. The Evil Queen was on a quest to collect the items as well. While Alex and Conner got all their information from the journal, the Evil Queen got it from her Magic Mirror, who gave the Queen an important warning: The Wishing Spell could only be used twice, and as it has already been used once before; so, it can only be used one more time. Thus, a true competition to collect the items began. A competition that, unlike the Evil Queen, the twins didn't yet know about. While the Queen sent the Huntsman's daughter to find all the needed objects, she planned to take care of Alex and Conner herself.

Meanwhile, the twins are already on their way to find the second item, Cinderella's glass slipper -- which, according to the journal, is very difficult to retrieve, as it is the most cherished possession of the Charming Kingdom and always watched by two guards. Luckily for Alex and Conner, a ball was underway at the Charming Kingdom palace when they arrive. With the help of a not-so-clever disguise and an amused guard named Sir Lampton, they make it inside. Even after being shown to the display room and meeting Cinderella herself, they weren't able to steal the shoes, and they left without what they came for. Still, when Alex looked through her bag later, she finds one of the slippers inside.

The twins' next stop for the Wishing Spell was the Red Riding Hood Kingdom, which they had to enter by climbing over the wall around the kingdom. The journal told them that Red's castle isn't very hard to break into and they made plans to do so around midnight. However, an even better opportunity offered itself to Alex and Conner when Jack promised to take them inside with him, since he was visiting Red to deliver a new basket for her. After an encounter with Queen Red Riding Hood herself, they were shown to a room filled with baskets and found themselves faced with a much bigger task than what they had hoped for. With building frustration, they didn't manage to find the right basket until they had to leave again, which led to them going back to their former plans after all. Continuing their search after breaking into the castle at night, they found they're not the only ones trying to get the items for the spell. The Huntman's daughter beat them to it and set fire to the room, and the twins had to get a quick hold on a piece of the basket and make an escape far too close for comfort.

On their way to the Fairy Kingdom the twins got lost, and found themselves in the Troll and Goblin Territory. A kidnapping of sorts by the Trolls and Goblins led to them being locked up and all their belongings being taken from them. Luckily, Princess Trollbella took a liking in Conner and agreed to help him and Alex escape. However, she agreed to only if he kissed her. He reluctantly agreed, and thoroughly regretted it afterwards. As the twins tried to escape after retrieving everything they had collected so far, they coincidentally discovered another item they hadn't even been looking for: the 'stony crown that's made to share', which, as they found out, was the crown belonging to the Troll and Goblin Kings. Conner managed to get a hold of it and once more the twins needed to run for their lives.

This time they didn't miss the Fairy Kingdom. Even though Conner and Alex both have different ideas about how to get a fairy to shed a tear for them, their plans turn out to be unnecessary. They find the fairy Trix quietly crying to herself because she is due to appear at a trial. Though they have already collected one of her tears, the twins offer to accompany her.

Meanwhile the Evil Queen gets the wolf Malumclaw involved in trying to find the twins and bring them to her. Alex and Conner slowly start realizing that they aren't the only ones trying to put the Wishing Spell together.

The twins' next to stop is the Sleeping Kingdom. They read in the journal that its author only had to ask the Queen nicely in order to borrow the spindle. In fact, it's an easy task for them to get into the palace, as the guards – like most of the kingdom – are napping away. As an attempt from Conner to help the royal family keep the citizens awake during the day ends with them accidentally exposing Cinderella's slipper, they make a run for it and find themselves in Sleeping Beauty's room, where she slept for a hundred years. The Queen herself soon joins them, having called back the guards after hearing about the twins' quest. After a short conversation, she gives the spindle to them under the condition that they return it once they don't need it anymore.

A boat ride leads them to the Northern Kingdom, and through a hidden gate they swim past the guards and towards Queen Snow White's palace. As they look for the jewels attached to the coffin, they find out who exactly their competitioner is when it comes to collecting the items. Leaving the thought to the side for a moment, they once more approach the owner of the object – in this case Snow White – directly. The queen lets them know that the glass coffin was returned to the dwarfs, who now keep it in their mines.

A little downcast, Alex and Conner take the long way to the Dwarf Forests upon themselves, continuing their quest in the mines. Soon they find the coffin and manage to pry a few of the jewels loose, leaving them with just one more item to collect. Spirits soaring high with their success, they don't pay attention to their surroundings and find themselves in yet another life-threatening situation.

Getting out mostly unharmed, but still on the run, their escape leads them to Mermaid Bay and, literally, into the ocean. They encounter the Sea Foam Spirit, who turns out to have been the Little Mermaid and happens to know just what the twins didn't know they were searching for. The 'saber from the deepest sea' refers to the knife the Little Mermaid was given to kill the prince after he fell in love with another woman, so that she could return to the sea as a mermaid – an action she couldn't go through with. To the twins' disappointment, the object wasn't returned to the ocean after being used for the Wishing Spell the first time. Instead, it was dropped into the Thornbush Pit. After another long walk, and with the help of two magical shell necklaces, they get into the pit unharmed. Down there they find a knife with a curved handle, made of coral, bits of shell, and sea glass. A bit of bad luck is enough to almost trap them in the Thornbush Pit forever, if it wasn't for Froggy who comes to their help.

Despite them having collected all items necessary to get the Wishing Spell to work, the twins adventure isn't over yet. A series of unfortunate events leads to them being brought to the Evil Queen herself. In a struggle, Conner kicks the vial filled with fairy tears out of her hands, causing it to break and the tear to vanish. While an army is steadily approaching the place, the Evil Queen takes her time to tell the twins her story, and ends up collecting one of Alex's tears to activate the Wishing Spell. She is out to use it for herself and free the man in her magic mirror but things don't go as she has planned, leaving her devastated over a man she can not recognize, whose life quickly fades. The spell, however, has now been used for the second time and cannot be used again.

Aftera dramatic change of the situation, the twins and their friends find shelter in Queen Snow White's castle where they destroy the saber from the deepest sea as promised. An invitation from Cinderella to celebrate the birth of her child gives them the opportunity to return her glass slipper to her and the spindle to Sleeping Beauty. In the palace, they encounter the Fairy Godmother, who, they find out is in fact their grandmother. Furthermore she tells the twins that they have been following their own father's journal the whole time, and that they both have fairy blood in them, which is why the spell could be actived with the use of Alex's tear. They also hear from Sir Lampton that he helped them on their quest by putting the glass slipper in Alex's bag.

Due to the Fairy Godmother's ability to travel between the worlds, the Wishing Spell is no longer necessary for Alex and Conner and they can return home without its help.


  1. TLOS II, ch 11, p. 174
  2. TLOS I, ch 5
  3. TLOS 1, ch 7, p 145
  4. TLOS I, ch 7, p. 148