Friday, June 26, 2015

This Week's Oz Short Story

Yup, I'm still trying to get through the anthology I Should Have Stayed in Oz. This week, it's "The Monkey Queen of Oz" by Sherri Dean, and this one was a treat! Dean clearly knows the book, because she references the Silver Shoes and the Golden Cap. Not only that, however, her story is a logical extension of what could have happened if Dorothy hadn't returned to Oz as soon as she did in the other books. Dorothy is now in her teens, and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are getting too old to run the farm. They want to marry Dorothy off, but everyone around thinks she's crazy because of how much she goes on about Oz. On a trip to the carnival, Dorothy tries to see if the Wizard is working there, but is surprised to find a cage full of flying monkeys! It turns out that the Wicked Witches had a brother that they had exiled. With the witches dead and the Wizard gone, he swoops in to fill the vacuum of power, taking on the guise of a wizard named the Humbug (a clever reversal of the actual Wizard's situation). He enslaves the monkeys again and brings some of them, a Munchkin flunky, and a few other Ozites to Kansas in an attempt to get revenge on Dorothy. Since she doesn't feel like she belongs in Kansas anyway, Dorothy helps the monkeys escape, defeats the Humbug, and leaves the carnival in the balloon. The story ends with an interesting offer from the monkeys. This one was a lot of fun, and it just seemed to be the Ozziest story of the book so far. One of only two quibbles is that, like a couple of other stories in this anthology, the end just felt like the start of the real story, once they get to Oz, but we never see that. My other quibble is the story's placement in history, but this one is the opposite of what I've usually seen. Many stories (particularly in this collection) set things during the middle of the twentieth century, more in line with The Movie. Here, however, Dorothy witnesses the incorporation of Kansas City in 1853, decades before the book. I think the author wanted to make a point about the fight over whether or not Kansas would be a slave state, and equating that with the monkey's situation, but it really wasn't a factor. Still, it's a small thing, and ultimately didn't take away from my enjoyment of this story.

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