Sunday, September 27, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

It's time to crack open another issue of Oziana, the International Wizard of Oz Club's annual literary magazine! And the first story in the 2015 issue is "The Malevolent Mannequin in Oz" by Joe Bongiorno, with illustrations by David Bishop. This is pretty much a straight up horror story, as Mombi (some time when the Wizard was still the ruler) acquires a strange, ugly doll, even though it sends a shiver down even her spine. Naturally, the doll comes to life and tries to kill her, several times. It develops into a cat-and-mouse game between them, But Mombi eventually gets the upper hand. But it is strongly implied that this will not be the last we hear from it.

What makes this one interesting is that it's told in the first person, from Mombi's point of view. This allows the reader to actually get into her head, and we learn a lot about Mombi as a result. Not only does she tell us what's happening with her and the dummy, she also reveals a lot about the machinations of all the magic users of Oz, and how Mombi sees herself fitting into how Oz works. She certainly understands that she is wicked, but at least she's not as evil as some others—or so she sees it. We also get a little more information on Drs. Nikidik and Pipt, and why they are often mistaken for each other. The back story is often more interesting than Mombi's battle with the titular character. I think this is one story you have to be a true, deep Oz fan to truly appreciate, but if you just pay attention to Mombi's battle with the dummy, you still get a satisfying, if unsetling, little tale of gamemanship. One other nice touch is that Mombi has a cat in this story named Zisca, which is the name used by the actress who played Mombi in the 1969 movie The Wonderful Land of Oz!

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