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The Land of Stories: Worlds Collide
By Chris Colfer
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 12, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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In the highly anticipated conclusion to the Land of Stories series, Conner and Alex must brave the impossible. All of the Land of Stories fairy tale characters–heroes and villains–are no longer confined within their world!
With mayhem brewing in the Big Apple, Conner and Alex will have to win their biggest battle yet. Can the twins restore order between the human and fairy tale world?
Breathtaking action mixed with laugh out loud moments and lots of heart will make this a gripping conclusion for many fans!
DISTRESS CALL FROM THE PUBLIC LIBRARY
It was a typical afternoon at the main branch of the New York Public Library. The marble halls of the world-famous structure echoed with the footsteps of obnoxious tourists, restless college students, and noisy groups of elementary school students on field trips. Tour guides shared little-known facts about the library's expansive history and refrained from rolling their eyes at questions about the movies that had been filmed there. Librarians gave directions to the renowned reading rooms on the upper floors and reminded the guests that library books weren't allowed in the bathrooms.
There was absolutely nothing to suggest that anything strange or peculiar might occur later that evening, but strange and peculiar events rarely give any warning before they happen.
Security guard Rudy Lewis began his four-PM-to-midnight shift by patrolling the library's entrance on Fifth Avenue. He yelled at teenagers for climbing Patience and Fortitude, the iconic lion statues that flanked the library's sprawling front steps. He kindly asked the homeless people sleeping beside the fountains to continue their naps at the shelter down the street, and once they obliged, he went back to the statues to yell at a new gang of teenagers for climbing them. Once the library closed and was cleared out, Rudy spent the rest of his shift patrolling the interior.
For hours and hours Rudy walked up and down the vacant halls of the four-level structure, inspecting its various forums, galleries, studies, and stairwells. Five minutes before the end of his shift, he was positive there wasn't another soul in the library and was eager to hand his duties off to the next security guard. But as he made his final inspection of the third floor, Rudy discovered he was mistaken.
At the end of a long, dark hallway, the security guard found a young woman standing alone. She wore a sparkling white dress and had strawberry-blonde hair, and her head was bowed as if she had fallen asleep standing up. At first, the sight of the young woman startled Rudy. He had walked past this part of the library a dozen times and hadn't seen anyone before now. It was like the young woman had appeared out of thin air.
"Excuse me," he said. "What are you doing?"
The young woman didn't respond.
"Hey, I'm talking to you," Rudy said.
The angry security guard shined his flashlight on the young woman to get her attention, but she didn't move. Once she was illuminated, Rudy could see that she was trembling and her skin was as pale as a ghost's. For a split second, he worried that she was a ghost. His co-workers had always warned him that the library was haunted, but until now, he'd had no reason to believe them.
"The library's closed." Rudy's voice cracked as he spoke. "Unless you're an employee, you're trespassing on city property."
Still the young woman neither looked up nor said a word. Her silence was making Rudy paranoid. The longer he stood in her presence, the creepier the young woman became. The fate of every security guard in every horror film flashed before Rudy's eyes, but he mustered the courage to approach the strange young woman.
"I'm gonna call the police if you don't say something!"
Suddenly, the young woman gasped and jerked her head up, causing Rudy to jump. She frantically looked around in a panic as if waking from a bad dream.
"Where am I?" she panted.
"You're at the library," Rudy said, but that only confused her more.
"The library? Which library?"
"The New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and East Forty-Second Street," Rudy said.
"Oh no!" the young woman cried. "You have to get out of here! Something terrible is about to happen!"
"What are you talking about? How did you even get in here?"
"I don't know what she has planned, but you've got to go before she makes me hurt you!" the young woman pleaded. "Please, you have to listen to me! I can't control it!"
Tears spilled out of her blue eyes and rolled down her face.
"Who are you talking about?" Rudy asked. "No one is in here but me and you."
"The witch who cursed me! She put me under some kind of spell that makes me do things—awful things!"
"Lady, you're clearly on a lot of drugs," Rudy said. "I'm taking you outside and calling the cops."
"You have to get my brother! He's the only one who can help! His name is Conner Bailey—he should be at Saint Andrew's Children's Hospital in Willow Crest—"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Rudy said, and grabbed her arm. "This city is full of places that help people like you, but you can't stay here."
The security guard tried to escort her to the exit, but the young woman wouldn't budge. He pulled on her arm with all his might, but she stayed exactly where she was, as if she were glued to the floor.
"It's too late!" the young woman said. "The spell—I feel it coming! The witch must be close! Please, you have to run!"
To the security guard's horror, the young woman's eyes rolled back and began to glow. Her hair rose above her head and floated in the air like a slow-flickering fire. In all his years in security, Rudy had never seen anything like this before.
"What the heck is happening to you?"
The young woman placed a palm on his chest, and a bright blast erupted from her hand, knocking him all the way down the hall. As Rudy lay on the floor, his whole body tingled as if he had just been electrocuted. His vision was blurry and fading fast. With all his remaining strength and in the few moments of consciousness he had left, Rudy reached for his radio and held it against his mouth.
"Police…" he wheezed. "We need police at the library… NOW!"
Within minutes, Fifth Avenue was illuminated by red and blue lights as two police cars sped toward the library. A policeman emerged from the first vehicle and a policewoman from the second. The officers hurried up the front steps with their guns raised.
"I just got the call. What's the situation?" the policewoman asked.
"We don't know," said the policeman. "A distress call came from somewhere inside the library. Approach with caution."
"Oh my God." The policewoman gasped. "Look!"
The officer pointed to the library's entrance as the large doors slowly opened on their own. A moment later the young woman in the white dress levitated through the doorway and landed at the top of the library's front steps. Even in New York City, the police weren't accustomed to seeing someone with glowing eyes and floating hair flying out of a building. Once the initial shock faded, the officers knelt behind a lion statue and aimed their weapons at her.
"Hands up!" the policeman ordered.
The young woman didn't follow his instructions. Instead, she pointed at the statues and two powerful bolts of lightning struck the lions. The police dived to the ground to avoid getting hit.
"What was that?" the policeman asked.
"Lightning!" said the policewoman. "But I don't understand. There aren't any clouds in the sky!"
Once the officers helped each other to their feet, they jerked their heads toward a strange cracking noise coming from the statues. They watched in astonishment as the stone lions stood up from their perches, leaped into the air, and landed on the steps in front of the young woman, blocking the officers from coming any closer. The statues roared so loudly, they set off all the car alarms within a block.
"Holy crap," the policeman said. "The statues are alive! How is this possible?"
The policewoman clicked the radio on her shoulder. "Officer Sanchez to Dispatch," she said. "The library is under attack, I repeat, the library is under attack! We need all available units to join us immediately!"
"Copy, Officer Sanchez," a voice responded over the radio. "All available units have been notified. Are you able to identify who or what is behind the attack?"
Still in disbelief, the policewoman hesitated to respond.
"It's magic," she said breathlessly. "The library is being attacked by magic!"
ACCIDENTAL YET UNEXPLAINABLE
The Willow Crest Fire Department had never seen an incident like the one at Saint Andrew's Children's Hospital. The firefighters were called in the middle of the night to view the damage from a reported explosion, but when they arrived, they had no idea what they were looking at. There weren't any flames to extinguish, there was hardly any debris to clear, and the remaining walls of the hospital weren't blackened or singed by the alleged blast. As far as they could tell, the women's bathroom hadn't exploded as much as it had vanished.
"It's not damaged, it's just missing," one firefighter said to another. "If there had been an explosion, this place would be covered in bits of porcelain, but there's not a piece of the bathroom anywhere."
"The hospital staff swears a fully functional bathroom was right here just a few hours ago," the second firefighter said. "If it wasn't an explosion, what could have removed it so quickly?"
The firefighters asked around the hospital, but no one had witnessed the phenomenon, further complicating the strange situation. They checked the grounds surrounding the hospital in case the bathroom had been detached by some type of tractor, but there were no tracks on the ground.
"What should I put on the report?" the first firefighter asked the second. "The hospital's insurance company is going to need something from us, but I can't exactly say the bathroom got up and walked away."
"Write accidental yet unexplainable," the second firefighter said. "I think this case is above our pay grade. They're going to need an investigation to get to the bottom of this—a thorough investigation."
With no further assessments to make, the firefighters taped off the area and gave the hospital manager the contact information for a destruction investigator who lived in the next town. The specialist wasn't available for another week, so the missing bathroom remained a giant and mysterious hole until his arrival.
The scene was completely untouched until midnight on the eve of the inspector's visit. A fifteen-year-old young man stepped over the yellow tape and had a seat in the doorway that led to nowhere. His eyes were baggy, his heart was heavy, and he hunched as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. Deep in thought, he gazed through the large hole at the buildings of downtown Willow Crest in the distance.
The young man had hoped that if he returned to the missing bathroom, it might provide answers to the questions haunting him. Unfortunately, all the answers had disappeared with the bathroom.
A sixteen-year-old young woman suddenly peeked into the hospital from outside, almost giving Conner a heart attack. She wore a purple beanie and had blonde hair with a streak of pink and blue at the front.
"Bree!" Conner said. "What are you doing here? I thought you were grounded for running away."
"Oh, I am," Bree said. "I'm not allowed to leave the house until college. I've never seen my parents so furious. As far as they know, I just snuck off to visit family in Connecticut. I can't imagine how they'd react if they knew we flew to Germany and back."
"What if you get caught sneaking out?" Conner asked.
"Don't worry, I won't," Bree said. "I've been sneaking out of the house since I was eight. I put a wax head on my pillow and leave a cassette playing of someone snoring in case my parents check my bedroom."
"That's both impressive and scary," Conner said.
Bree shrugged. "It's just like Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said. 'Well-behaved women seldom make history.'"
She climbed into the hospital, carefully stepping on the remaining floorboards so she didn't fall into the basement below, and had a seat next to Conner in the doorway.
"You weren't home, so I figured I'd find you here," she said.
"I wanted to take one last look at the damage before the inspector starts digging around tomorrow," he said. "You know, just in case there was something we missed."
"Any luck finding Alex?"
"Not at all," Conner said with a sigh. "It's been a week since she disappeared and we haven't found a single clue to where she went. My mom and stepdad have looked all over town, but there's no sign of her. Jack, Red, and Lester are searching the fairy-tale world as we speak, but so far they haven't returned with anything."
"It's so bizarre," Bree said. "I barely know her, but it seems so out of character for her to run off like that. Has she done anything like this before?"
Conner's knee-jerk reaction was to defend his sister's reputation, but the more he thought about it, the more he remembered it wasn't entirely unlike her to go missing.
"Sort of," he recalled. "Alex went through this weird phase not too long ago. She would get overwhelmed about something and lose control of her powers. But the circumstances were so different—she was really stressed out and easy to provoke."
"What was she stressed out about?"
"It was back when we were searching the fairy-tale world for our uncle Lloyd," he explained. "All her hunches about him were right, but no one wanted to believe her. The Fairy Council thought she was becoming reckless, so they ordered her to stop looking for him. Alex got so upset, she disappeared into a ball of flames, but she resurfaced a couple of days later."
"Oh," Bree said. "So maybe it isn't out of character."
"Disappearing, maybe, but she's not the type who abandons her friends in their hour of need," Conner said. "Things were finally looking up for a change. We had just recruited all the characters from my stories. We were finally ready to fight the Literary Army in the fairy-tale world. So why would she vanish now? It makes no sense."
"The detective in me wants to believe your uncle had something to do with it, especially if he was the reason behind her previous outbursts," Bree said. "But Emmerich and I were with him the entire time he was in the Otherworld. Alex never laid eyes on him. If she was provoked, it was by someone else."
Conner nodded. "And that's what I've been trying to figure out."
Alex's behavior puzzled them as much as the vanished bathroom puzzled the fire department, and just like the firefighters, they knew they were missing a piece of the story. Unfortunately, there was no specialist they could call to help them solve Alex's disappearance.
"How are all the characters doing?" Bree asked.
"They're a little stir-crazy from being cooped up in the commissary," Conner said. "We have to let them outside for fresh air in shifts so no one around here gets suspicious. Bob has been teaching the Merry Men and the Lost Boys how to play football at the park to burn off some energy. My mom has rewrapped all the mummies with fresh bandages, so the commissary smells a lot better. The Cyborgs have blown every fuse in the hospital from using the outlets too much. The Ziblings have been patrolling downtown at night to get their hero fix, so the city's crime rate has gone down. And the Starboardia pirates found a television and have been watching I Love Lucy reruns non-stop—it annoys everyone else, but at least it keeps them occupied."
"I'm glad everyone's hanging in there," Bree said. "I can't imagine what it's like for you. Being in the Cemetery of the Undead for a couple of hours was surreal enough for me, but you've been surrounded by your creations for days. It's got to feel like a trippy family reunion."
"Once you've seen your elderly grandmother slay a dragon, everything else pales in comparison." Conner laughed. "Speaking of family reunions, did Cornelia and Emmerich get to Germany safely? It was so kind of her to offer him a ride home."
"Thankfully," Bree said. "Cornelia said Emmerich and Frau Himmelsbach were very happy to be reunited. They're also moving to Australia to get as far away from Neuschwanstein Castle as possible. Wanda and Frenda had been stranded in Bavaria since your uncle Lloyd kidnapped us, so Cornelia picked them up and they flew back to Connecticut yesterday."
"I was amazed at how well Cornelia handled it all," Conner said. "Usually people freak out when they learn about other dimensions, but she barely flinched."
Bree forced a smile and nodded—she hadn't been completely honest with Conner. He knew Bree was in Connecticut when she learned Emmerich had been kidnapped, he knew Cornelia had generously offered to fly Bree to Germany so they could help Emmerich's mother look for him, and he knew they happened to be in Neuschwanstein Castle when Uncle Lloyd brought Emmerich back to the Otherworld. However, Conner had been so overwhelmed by Alex's disappearance, Bree thought it was best to leave out the other details.
She never mentioned why she had gone to visit her family in Connecticut—that she'd discovered they were part of a secret league known as the Sisters Grimm, or their extensive history of tracking portals into the fairy-tale world. Bree hoped a better time would present itself to fill Conner in, but the longer Alex was gone, the more inappropriate it became.
"At Cornelia's age, there's not a whole lot that shocks her," Bree said. "In fact, when you get a minute, I'd love to tell you more about my trip to her—"
Bree was interrupted by the sound of footsteps coming from the hallway behind them. A moment later, Trollbella appeared in the doorway of the missing bathroom. The young troll queen immediately crossed her arms and scowled at the sight of Bree and Conner in the same location.
"Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't keep her away from your man," Trollbella quipped.
Conner rolled his eyes. "What do you want, Trollbella?"
"I came to let you know that Beansprout, the Frog Mistress, and Plucky McGee have returned," she said.
"Who?" Bree asked.
"She means that Jack, Red, and Lester are back from the fairy-tale world," Conner said, and quickly jumped to his feet. "Maybe they know something about Alex! Trollbella, will you let my mom and Bob know? They're working a night shift on the third floor."
"I am not your errand girl, Butterboy," Trollbella said. "There'll be no more favors between us until you're ready to commit."
"Fine," Conner said. "Bree, will you please get my mom and Bob—"
"Fine, I'll fetch my Butter-in-laws," Trollbella said. "But please stop begging—I hate seeing how vulnerable you've become without me."
Conner and Bree ran down the hall toward the commissary as Trollbella fetched Charlotte and Bob. They found all their friends from Oz, Neverland, the Sherwood Forest, The Land of Stories, and Conner's short stories "The Adventures of Blimp Boy," "The Ziblings," and "Galaxy Queen" huddled around Jack and Red. The only ones who weren't paying attention to their arrival were the pirates from "Starboardia," who never looked away from the television.
"Are they still watching that ditzy woman?" Red asked. "The Otherworld may be advanced, but it sure leads to some awful habits."
"Well?" Conner asked, getting straight to the point. "Did you find my sister?"
Jack slowly shook his head. "No," he said. "We looked at all the places we thought she would be—the ruins of the Fairy Palace, the Giant's Castle in the sky, the clock tower of the Charming Palace—but we didn't find a trace of her."
The news was so disappointing, Conner had to sit down. If Alex wasn't in the fairy-tale world, he didn't know where else to look. His train of thought shifted from thinking of places she might be to worrying she'd never be found.
"I'm sorry you didn't find Alex, but I'm so glad you're back," Goldilocks told Jack as she cradled their newborn son. "It's a miracle you weren't spotted, even at Lester's heights."
Jack went to his wife's side and kissed Hero on the forehead. Red gave Goldilocks a large hug from behind, as if the sentiment were meant for her.
"Goldilocks, you're back on your feet!" Red pointed out. "Is it safe for you to be walking again so soon after giving birth?"
"Red, I had a baby, not a whale," Goldilocks said. "How is the fairy-tale world? Are the conditions any better?"
"It's exactly as we left it," Jack told the room. "The citizens from all the kingdoms are still being held in Swan Lake, if they're not building monuments to the emperors. The Literary Army is lined up on the lawns of the Northern Palace, but all they do is march all day—as if they're waiting for something to happen."
"It sounds like they're preparing for battle," Goldilocks said. "They couldn't be expecting us, could they?"
"I imagine it's just a scare tactic to keep the citizens from rebelling," Jack said. "They still haven't discovered the royal families in the abandoned mine, so I doubt they've caught wind of us. How could they?"
"And the others in the mine? Are they still… made of stone?" Goldilocks asked.
"Unfortunately so," Jack said. "Same goes for the Fairy Council."
"Oh, it was a terrible sight!" Red said, and shuddered at the thought. "All their faces were frozen in the most unattractive expressions of terror. If someone turns me into stone, I hope they have the decency to tell me something amusing beforehand."
"What about the creature that did it?" the Tin Woodman asked. "Was there any sign of who or what it is?"
"They wouldn't be here if they had seen it," Blubo said, and recalled the terrifying moments he had spent in its presence. "All it took was one glance, and boom! Everyone went stiff as a rock. I wouldn't be here if my eyes hadn't been closed."
Commander Newters gulped fearfully and turned to Conner. "There are creatures that turn others into stone in the Land of Stories?" he asked.
"It didn't come from the fairy-tale world," Conner said. "It must have been a character my uncle recruited using the Portal Potion—I just don't know which story it's from."
"Does it have to be from literature?" Beau Rogers asked. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were talking about Medusa from Greek mythology."
"What's a Medusa?" Peter Pan asked.
"She's a horrible monster," Beau Rogers animatedly replied. "Legend says she has a long, scaly body, fangs, and snakes for hair! Just one gaze into her red eyes will turn you into a statue!"
The Lost Boys covered their eyes, ears, and mouths at the young archaeologist's frightening description. The Blissworm clapped its tiny hands together, anxious to meet her.
"DON'T WORRY, LADS," Robin Hood said. "I'VE COURTED MANY A MAIDEN WHO TURNED OUT TO BE FAR WORSE. WITH JUST A FEW VERSES OF A ROMANTIC POEM, SHE WILL BE PUTTY IN MY HANDS."
The Prince of Thieves didn't make anyone feel better about the situation, especially Conner. He got to his feet and started pacing around the room. A very difficult decision had to be made, and Conner couldn't delay it a moment longer.
"We can't waste any more time," he said. "Tomorrow we're going to fight the Literary Army and reclaim the fairy-tale world. I never thought we'd have to do it without my sister, but we can't let the people suffer any longer."
"Poor Alex," Red said. "There have been many times I've disappeared for some me time, but I always return after a couple of hours. I hope she'll resurface in time to help us. She put so much work into recruiting our army—it'd be a shame if she missed the war completely."
Suddenly, Goldilocks's face lit up with an idea. Red's nonsense always had a funny way of putting things into perspective for her.
"Hold your horses," Goldilocks said.
"Which horses?" the Tin Woodman asked.
"No, it's a figure of speech," Goldilocks said, and got back to her point. "We've been looking at the Literary Army and at Alex's disappearance like they're separate situations, but what if they're more related than we think? After all, we're at war—a war Alex is a key player in. It's very possible someone is using Alex to sabotage us. Perhaps it's time we stop asking where Alex went and start asking who took her."
Of all the directions Conner's mind had gone in the last week, this was a conclusion he'd never come to. His sister was so powerful and strong-minded; it was hard to imagine that someone could abduct her from the hospital without anyone noticing, especially someone from the Literary Army.
Praise for the Land of Stories series:A #1 New York Times BestsellerA Barnes & Noble Best Kids' Book of the Year
- "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
- "It will hit big with its combination of earnestness and playful poise."—The New York Times Book Review
- "It's hard not to love a book dedicated to the Glee star's grandmother...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
- On Sale
- Jun 12, 2018
- Page Count
- 464 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers