Sunday, January 27, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

We're back to Oziana again on a regular basis, and I plan to run this series until I run out of issues—or another anthology cowes my way! The first full story of the 1997 issue is "The Forbidden Cave of Grapelandia", a sequel to a story from the 1991 issue, both by Fred Otto, This story is charmingly illustrate by Melody Grandy. By this time, Fred had passed away, but he had left a few stories for Oziana to publish in the coming years. (I'll be reporting if this ends up being the case!) In this tale, Princess Prunella has been told for years to stay away from the back of one particular cave, but now that she is disenchanted, Duchess Myrna decides to see what's up and takes Prunella and the castle watch dog, Comfort, spelunking. There are good reasons for the ban, however, as there is a sheer drop that they all tumble down into a family of dragons! Myrna and Comfort are led away by the parent dragons, but Prunella befriends the dragonette who tries to reunite the princess with her mother. Myrna and Comfort, meanwhile, have an encounter with the Ruby Imps, who are in league with the dragons and some other mysterious entity. Both parties make their way out by separate means, and discover that the dragons and imps are working for the Duchess of Grapelandia, the Duke's mother and the one who enchanted Myrna in the original story! (She really doesn't seem to have anyone's best interest at heart besides her own.) Once the Duke comes home and finds out what's going on, he takes action and blocks off the passages from the castle to the cave. The Duchess, not having actually dealt with the imps for many years, is trusted to stay out of trouble now that everyone knows, and the cave is put off limits again—but I doubt the Duke believes that will be totally effective!

It's a little slice-of-life story about a part of Oz away from the celebrities in the Emerald City, so the stakes are not terribly large. Not a lot actually happens, either, but we sure get some insight into the royal family and history of Grapelandia. I don't recall if there were any other adventures in Grapelandia, but I hope so, as I'd like to read them!

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