An Author’s Odyssey
An Author’s Odyssey, the fifth series book from the Land of Stories, mostly serves as a bridge between the fourth and the sixth, final, book. After gathering characters from classic literature to join the fight against the army of literary villains, Alex and Connor venture into Connor’s own stories to begin building an army of their own. There is a mix of action and stagnation here: the main plot of the series is put on the back burner, while Alex and Connor travel through the various stories. There is a mini-adventure of sorts within each story, as they attempt to recruit Connor’s characters. While there were fun things happening here for readers, there is not much movement in the story as a whole. It was fun to revisit some of the characters from previous books in a new light, as the majority of Connor’s characters are based on those that he has met in the Land of Stories. We see new versions of Goldilocks, Red, Mother Goose, and a few others, and then also get to see some of these characters introduced to their counterparts.
Overall, I did like this one, but much of it felt like filler material. Most of the book was a continuation of previous storylines, some of which are carried over further into the final book. One story with resolution here is that of the Masked Man, who follows the twins into one of the stories, only to be confronted by others from his past and killed. As is the norm for the books in the second half of the series, this ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and lead into the next book. Now rid of the Masked Man, various witches from the Fairy Tale World have combined forces and intend to carry out the remainder of the plot he had started. They reveal their secret weapon: a powerful curse placed upon Alex that intensifies her already negative outlook and allows them to control her powers to their advantage.
The sixth and final installment to the Land of Stories series begins a bit differently than the previous tales, with a prologue set far into the future. Connor has become a well-known author, primarily by writing about his adventures and friends from the Land of Stories. He is celebrating his 80th birthday with an event at a bookstore, where he is asked a question about his sister and cannot remember what happened to her. He turns to his final book to glean some information, and we then jump back into the story. The two main events through the course of the book are a rescue mission to find Alex, and then the final showdown between the literary armies. Without giving away too much of the plot here, we do get the traditional fairy tale ending, “happily ever after” and all.
Although some may find the happy resolution to be too easy or cliché, I thought that it was fitting for the series. Perhaps the highlight of the series as a whole here comes from the wisdom imparted by the twins father, which helps to break the curse put upon Alex: “Happily ever after does exist, it’s just not what you think. Happily ever after isn’t a solution to life’s problems or a guarantee that life will be easy; it’s a promise we make ourselves to always live our best lives, despite whatever circumstance comes our way. When we focus on joy in times of heartbreak, when we choose to laugh on the days it’s hard to smile, and when we count our blessings over our losses—that’s what a true happily ever after is all about.”