Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Latest Oz Reading

Some time ago, I thought to myself, what's the point of having all these Oz books if I'm not going to read them again? So I incorporated rereading some of them into my regular Oz reading. These are the most recent ones:

  • The Living House of Oz by Edward Einhorn. Since I reread Einhorn's Paradox in Oz last time around, and I was going to see him at last year's Winkie Convention, I thought I may as well reread this one, too. Einhorn is a fun Oz writer who really gets Oz, but also manages to put enough of himself and new ideas in as well. I wish he's write more Oz stuff. In this book, Buddy is the son of Mordra, a witch from a parallel Oz who looks a lot like the Wicked Witch of the West. In fact, Mordra is the Wicked Witch of the West, but she's not wicked. (I told you Einhorn puts a lot of new stuff in!) She created the Living House to carry them around Oz, so if things got too tight in one neighborhood, the house could get up and walk, like Baba Yaga's chicken-legged house, somewhere else. When the house settles near the kingdom of Tonsoria, and Princess Ayala is kidnapped, Mordra agrees to go to the Emerald City to ask for help, thus exposing herself to Ozma and Glinda. It does not go well, but not as bad as she thinks, and sets off a whole string of adventures. The Three Adepts at Magic and their subjects, the Mountaineers (formerly the Flatheads), as well as the Phanfasms, get involved, and it all comes to a satisfyingly Ozzy ending.
  • The Emerald Wand of Oz by Sherwood Smith. Smith was also at last year's Winkie Convention, and since the third book of her trilogy had finally been published (I'll tell you about that once I read it), I decided to reread this one as well, the first in the series, in preparation. This was an attempt by the publisher to jumpstart a new Oz series, clearly based on the books but aimed at a modern audience. Dori and Em are sisters in Kansas dealing with their parents' impending divorce when a tornado hits and — well, I think you can guess where they end up! Dori, being the dreamy Oz-loving older sister, buys into it completely. Em, the younger, practical child, takes a lot longer to get into the spirit of things. At first, she thinks the unicorns they first come across are horses, and she can't understand what they're saying! But the two eventually realize that the other one has good qualities as well, and they grow closer as they deal with the threat of a new Wicked Witch in Oz. They're new ally, a Nome boy named Rik, may or may not have their best interests at heart. And somehow, Dorothy has gone missing, too. Again, it's all a lot of fun and very Ozzy, although I know some Oz fans still haven't quite forgiven Smith for the My Little Pony-style adventure with the unicorns.
  • And finally, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Yes, the book that started it all. If I'm going to reread Oz books, I thought to myself, I may as well go back to the beginning and read all of the Famous Forty and Related Ephemera. It's been a very long time since I've read many of them just for fun, and I suspect this will be a revelation. I've certainly read (or listened to) the first book many, many times in my over forty years (!) of being an Oz fan, so there wasn't a lot new to discover. The biggest revelation was just how small a part the Wicked Witch of the West has. The Movie, Wicked, and other adaptations have made her role look bigger than it really is, but I was surprised when I found that she only appears in only one chapter! I could have sworn it was more than that. But no, she is introduced at the start of Chapter 12, which ends with her melting at the hands of that famous bucket of water. So who knows what else will turn up in future books? (I'm already aware of one misconceptions I've had over the decades about The Patchwork Girl of Oz!)
Next time I get around to doing one of these, all new (to me) fiction!

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