Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review - Dorothy and the wizard of Oz

Dorothy and the wizard of Oz

Considering how much of a classic the Wizard of Oz is and how much the film was a big influence on my childhood, I thought it was criminal that I had never read the stories the film was based on. A year ago I decided to rectify that and discovered a series of enchanting books full of imagination. This is the 4th entry in the series.

The blurb:
During a California earthquake Dorothy falls into the underground Land of the Manaboos where she again meets the Wizard of Oz.

It is fascinating to see what device Frank L Baum uses with each book to transport Dorothy to Oz. The first book used a tornado, the next used a shipwreck etc. In this entry Dorothy falls down a hole in an earthquake.

Absurd? Of course but it also doesn't matter. This book see Baum explore his more whimsical side. The explanation for the earthquake is actually quite comical. In fact throughout, the prose sometimes reads very much like a Pratchett or a Douglas Adams novel. I wouldn't be surprised if either of those authors cited Baum as an influence on their writing.

For example, Dorothy's encounter with the Dragonlettes. These potentially dangerous animals are actually quite funny as they are torn between not helping Dorothy because they want to eat her and being scared of not helping her as that would be naughty and they'll be punished.

This book is unique as Dorothy does not immediately arrive in Oz. Instead we meet a variety of new characters such as the delightful Mangaboos to the marginally terrifying Gurgles.

Dorothy is also reunited with old friends as well as a plethora of new ones such as Zeb and the cart horse. There is also the rather unpleasant Eureka, who is Dorothy's cat (Toto's temporary replacement).

Baum keeps things light hearted but at the same time gives more weight to his world building. In this novel we get to know more about the wonderful wizard of Oz and his past. We learn what made him come to Oz in the first place.

The highlight of the novel though is the humorous trial of Eureka at the end. This brings all of the characters together and allows them to showcase their personalities. The scarecrow’s constant questioning of the Woggle-Bug in particular is very amusing.

All in all this is perhaps my favourite entry into the Oz series so far. The plot may be disjointed but you can really feel the fun Frank L Baum has writing the book and temporarily living the lives of his creations.

My rating: 8.2