Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review - L. Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz

Ozma of Oz (Oz Book 3) by L. Frank Baum
Published by: Everyman's Library
Publication Date: 1907
Format: Paperback, 624 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy
Dorothy and her Uncle are headed to Australia for his health. The sea voyage turns into a harrowing experience when Dorothy is blown overboard. The plucky little girl from Kansas is resourceful and is able to cling to a chicken coop and ride through the storm, soaking wet, but without fear. This is just the beginning of another adventure. Come morning she is making for landfall in what she takes to be a fairy land. It isn't Oz, because Oz is surrounded by a deadly desert on all sides, but it is most definitely fairy, how else would the chicken Billina be able to talk to her. Animals only talk in fairy worlds. Soon after landing the fact that this world is magical is increased by a tree that grows lunch pails, men called wheelers who have wheels on there hands and feet and a windup man, Tik-Tok, who works through his wonderful engineering.
Once Dorothy gathers a posse, she heads inland to the capital city where the royal family have been enslaved by the evil Nome King and the country is run by a vain relative of the royals, Princess Langwidere, who has a room full of heads that she switches out whenever she wants to be prettier, or in a different frame of mind, that raven haired head sure has a temper. Soon all the denizens of Oz arrive in this land, which, as Dorothy surmised, was close but not Oz. Dorothy is reunited with all her friends and finally meets Ozma, whom she becomes fast friends with. The delegation from Oz has come to rescue the royal family after hearing of their plight. They all set out for the Nome King's domain to find that he is a tricky and conniving man who will twist any situation around to his advantage. Yet, never underestimate a plucky chicken from Kansas!
Back when the Oz books where being re-released and I was starting my journey into reading I totally held this as my favorite Oz book. But looking back I realize it's less because of the book and more because of the movie Return to Oz. When I was little I remember finding a comic book adaptation of the movie in my school library. I remember reading it up to where Dorothy leaves the asylum. Also being extremely traumatized by it. Dorothy going to get electroshock treatment was enough to do permanent psychological damage to me. After I read the comic the first time I was never able to find it in the library again. I cannot account for that, but it made me start to think I had made the whole thing up and that, like Dorothy, Oz, like this comic, wasn't real.
Of course I got a little older and realized that it was a movie, which also traumatized me. Take the wheelers, add in a psycho who keeps heads in glass cases and switches them like we would clothes, and it was the stuff of nightmares. When I finally got to read the books I realized that this movie was an amalgam of The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, more heavily influenced by Ozma. But the movie took the best bits and omitted all the boring stuff. If there's one thing that annoys me about Oz it's that every time we have a reunion of the characters it's unendurably long with lots of crying and kissing and discussing how they are better than everyone else. Because, these characters really think they are awesome. I'm surprised all the egos fit in one room! But despite all the faults, every time I read about the tree with lunch pails growing from it and the wheelers and the castle of the Nome King with people being turned into knickknacks, it takes me back to my childhood. This is a book for nostalgia, the horror and the magic that lives when you are young, and to get that back, even for a few minutes, is magic indeed.


Newer Post Older Post Home