Monday, March 23, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

My goal, when I set out to read and blog one Oz short story every week, was to read the story over the weekend (or, if it were particularly long, during the week running up to the weekend), then blog about it right away, or the next day. Well, we are currently living in uncertain times, as I'm sure you are all well aware by now. Aside from the corona virus outbreak playing havoc with my work schedule (I am a teacher whose spring break has now been extended two weeks, and that may change down the road), my wife has been undergoing her own, unrelated medical issues as well, and I'm having to take on a lot more responsibilities to support her. What this all boils down to is, I'm having a hard time sticking to my once-every-week during-the-weekend goal. So please forgive me if I'm a day or two off, or I end up skipping a week here or there (as has already happened with my viewing of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz). But here it is, Monday morning, and I have another tale from the 2011 issue of Oziana, which is "The Solitary Sorceress of Oz" by Mycroft Mason, with illustrations by Isabelle Melançon. And I'm going to talk about the illustrations first, because when I first saw them I recognized the style right away, as Melançon is also the artist for the terrific (and Ozzy) webcomic, Namesake. There are only four illustrations, but they are definitely charming and distinctive, just like her Namesake work. As to the story itself, Trot starts to wonder about Glinda and her background, and how lonely she seems to be. Sure enough, Glinda (being Glinda, after all) finds out, and calls Trot down to the Quadling Country to tell her own origin story! It turns out, like Dorothy, the Wizard, and Trot, Glinda originally came to Oz from the Great Outside World! Unlike those others, however, she was a housemaid from England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Finding herself in an abandoned castle in a strange country, she did what just about any other young woman would do: She investigated, and found all kinds of magic spells and potions and books and the like. Since most of the locals thought the castle was haunted, she didn't have a lot of interruptions, and over several centuries she has learned a lot about what's in those books—but she also confesses to Trot that she has a lot more to learn, as there are many books she hasn't even opened yet!

True confession time: Many, many years ago, I wrote my own origin story for Glinda. She was a young Quadling farmgirl whom the fairies of Burzee decided to train after turning Oz into a fairyland, and she became orphaned after the Wicked Witch of the South killed her parents. Frankly, I like this origin better! It's terrific insight into just who Glinda is and what makes her tick, and also explains a lot of why she wasn't always able to do as much for Oz in the past as she can now. Trot even has to point out to her that it wasn't her fault Mombi did so much of what she did to Ozma. My only issue is that it is all told as a narrative from Glinda. Now, that is exactly how it would have played out as she talked to Trot, but it may have been a more captivating story for the reader if some portions had been told in flashback instead. For that matter, I would have liked to have read more about what Glinda did in those first months and years, and how she learned about and reacted to being in another country. Still, what we have is terrific, and I think Mason was trying to emphasize the relationship between Glinda and Trot anyway.

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