Books Magazine

Book Review: Ozma of Oz

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

pbbc082810aTitle: Ozma of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Series: The Oz Books
Publisher: Reilly & Britton
Publish Date: 1907
Genre: Middle Grade Classic
Pages: 246
Source: Gift as a Child
Buy the BookOzma of Oz

Synopsis: Readers of all ages will welcome the chance to be reunited with Dorothy Gale and such beloved characters as the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion, as well as to meet new favorites such as the Hungry Tiger, whose appetite is never satisfied; Princess Langwidere, who has thirty heads; Billina, a talking chicken; and Tiktok, a mechanical man.

Blown overboard while sailing with her uncle, Dorothy finds herself in the fairy realm of Ev. She sets out with her friends to rescue the Queen of Ev and her ten children, who have been imprisoned by the cruel Nome King. But even Ozma, the wise Ruler of Oz, is no match for the clever king, and it’s up to Dorothy to save everyone from terrible danger. But will the Nome King’s enchantments be too much even for the plucky little girl from Kansas? (Via Amazon)

Note: Since I wrote a YA fantasy novel last year called Over the Rainbow, a subversive modern update of The Wizard of Oz, I’ve become especially interest in all the Oz stories, and I realized at the end of last year that I’ve never taken the time to read the original L. Frank Baum books past the first one. Having still kept the first five books in the series since childhood, I decided to embark on a 14-month challenge, reading one Baum book a month, all the way until the end of 2013, finishing with his final Oz book, Glinda of Oz. This is a review of the third book in the series. (See my reviews for The Wizard of Oz and The Land of Oz here.)


Brian’s Review: I’m going to make a really weird analogy with Ozma of Oz, the third in L. Frank Baum’s beloved Oz series from the early twentieth century: Ozma of Oz is to The Wizard of Oz as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is to A Nightmare on Elm Street. The original is the supreme classic, one that can never be topped. The first sequel lost its way a little bit, mainly because the heroine was nowhere to be found. And the third brings the series back to its roots, offering a non-perfect but superbly fun adventure that brings back everything we loved about the original but offers up a few new tricks. I’m sure no one ever thought Wes Craven and L. Frank Baum would ever be mentioned in the same sentence… but they have now!

Ozma of Oz is a total blast, and what feels like the first “true” sequel to the original. True, because Dorothy, whose presence was missed in The Land of Oz, is back in the forefront, meeting up with her old pals The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, as well as some new faces, like Tik-Tok and Billina. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the plot of Book 3, but it’s a rousing adventure, in which Dorothy and her clan of misfits have to stop an evil king from turning all of his prisoners into ornaments. This mostly heinous and deadly serious Nome King is a solid Oz villain, one who offers more fear and dread than the Wicked Witch of the West ever did in the first book. And Ozma herself, who gives the book its title but works alongside Dorothy as an equal, makes for a fantastic addition to the text. Tik-Tok is also a lot of fun, too, and Billina, this witty, talking hen, provides the comic relief.

The Land of Oz was fun but something was definitely missing, and that thing was Dorothy. Baum says in his foreword that thousands of kids wrote to him to pen another Oz book, but to please, please, please bring Dorothy back. So Baum gave the kids what they wanted, and he gave us all of us another gem in his canon. Sure, it’s a little difficult to get past all those adverbs—Baum loves them even more than J.K. Rowling does—but that’s part of the fun of reading an older book like this. I have a feeling the later Oz books might get a little tiresome, but this third entry in the series was just as much fun as the first book. It’s not a story that necessarily made a better transition to the big screen (the maligned 1985 sequel Return to Oz is mostly based on this book), but it’s not a lesser sequel in any respect. I’m really loving this fantasy series and can’t wait to read the next one, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz!

Ozma of Oz 6

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