“This is Tim Burton’s Oz”
We think of Oz as a magical, fantastical, and wonderful place. Where the Scarecrow dances, the Tin Woodman sings, the Lion is a loving puppy, and the beautiful good witch Glinda is the stuff of daydreams. That was before Dorothy changed everything. This Oz is a scary and dark place, full of twisted characters, where the wicked are good and the good are well, wicked.
This is Amy’s Oz. She arrives the same way Dorothy did years ago: via tornado. What she sees is different. The yellow brick road is in shambles, there is no Munchkin country anymore, heck, there is hardly any magic at all! It is dark and colorless and really, really scary. Where people are not who they seem.
Let me just say that I love this book. A LOT. Well, 4 hearts a lot. It was hard going through the book though and I read it in 20 days. And maybe if I didn’t get sick, it would take a little bit longer. Because this book is the first in the series, we get a lot of world building and character development. So basically, about a third of the book drags a little bit. The action, however, happens in the last part of the book. Oh man, what action! Let’s just say, I envision a Quentin Tarantino fight right about there filled with mad music and all.
Our heroine, Amy Gumm is white trash from a trailer park in Kansas. She is bullied at school. Her parents are divorced and she lives with a druggie mom. When she gets to Oz, she is recruited by the Order of the Wicked. Their mission: Dorothy must die! She is taught magic by the witches (there is a question as to whether they are wicked or not) Mombi, Gert, Glamora Glinda’s twin, and a warlock named Nox so she can defeat Dorothy. They think that it has to be her because she is also from Kansas. Initially, Amy is in disbelief because haven’t we all read the books and seen the movies? Dorothy is good. She SAVED Oz, right? Well, if you read No Place Like Oz, you would get a little backstory as to how Dorothy became evil.
Amy meets interesting characters when she first gets to Oz. She meets Ollie, a winged Monkey without wings because apparently, you become a slave to Dorothy’s magic with it and Indigo, a Munchkin or Winkie (?). Both try to fill her in as to what happened to Oz until they are stopped by the Tin Woodman who is really scary. They are brought to the Emerald City and we meet her. DOROTHY. Dorothy is still pretty and looks sweet and kind. (I still picture her as Judy Garland, though. Sorry.) But she is evil. She is immediately curious about Amy and when she finds out that Amy is from Kansas and came by way of a tornado, well, off with her head! She is put in a dungeon and is saved by Mombi, from the Order of the Wicked.
Let’s talk about Dorothy. Dorothy has changed. A lot. She is not the same farm girl from Kansas. In fact, she is vain and yes, twisted and power-hungry. Or magic hungry. Like sweet madness. She fools the people from Oz into thinking that she is doing things for the good of Oz but she is doing it for her selfish needs. She knows how to manipulate people to do whatever she wants. And whatever Dorothy wants, Dorothy gets!
The lovable Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Lion – boy, are they different. The Scarecrow has put the words scare into a whole new meaning. He is like a mad twisted scientist who creates things by dismantling body parts and adding metal parts. His obsession: braaaaiiiinnssss! Yes, like a druggie, he injects brains into his brain (?) that he has extracted from others. The Tin Woodman is the muscle of Dorothy’s army. He commands the things that the Scarecrow creates into his own half-metal army. His obsession: Dorothy. The Tin Woodman is obsessed with Dorothy despite the lack of reciprocity from her side. This makes him a really dangerous lackey who would do anything, absolutely ANYTHING for his love. The Lion is a brute and a bully. He devours everyone’s fears and uses it to make him stronger. He is not the lovable lion that we are used to. He has morphed into a hideous beast that eats people willy nilly. His obsession: everyone’s fear. Then there is Glinda, the pretty Good Witch of the North is not what she seems. It was she who was banished by Ozma for reasons that haven’t been explained yet. It was she who gave Dorothy the red shoes that cannot be taken off her feet. And I think it is she who is the mastermind of all this. We don’t really know much about her only that she is under Dorothy’s orders to “mine” Oz of the power. But I am thinking that she is the master manipulator of this saga. I guess, we’ll just have to wait and see.
By the time a third of the book comes, we get some action! Amy finally goes undercover as one of Dorothy’s maids and is spies on her. This is where we see how evil Dorothy has become. She has become a vain and OCD b*tch and is throwing a party. Naturally, she works all her maids to the bone day in and day out just to satisfy her. She also manipulates the clock of Oz and turns it day or night by her whims. My favorite evil scenes are when Amy (disguised as Astrid, the maid) is promoted to personally attend to Dorothy. Dorothy demands that she brush her hair one thousand times (not more, not less!) and Amy catches eyes on her shoes. She was given a warning not to touch the shoes but once Amy sees it, she hears things. And it is sinister. Like the shoes wants her to take it, take the power. Creepy! The next scene is the one following this scene where Dorothy spots a mouse and orders Jelia (the head maid) to search for it. Earlier, Jelia had spilled pink nail polish on the floor and Dorothy was furious! As her punishment, Jellia has to look for the mouse and at Dorothy’s command: kill it by squeezing the mouse in her hands AND keeping the dead mouse in her apron pocket! Another creepy scene. I thought this was just horrible. In the book, Dorothy doesn’t really do outright evil things but there are allusions as to what she has done and I can just imagine what else. She is shown as someone who doesn’t care about anyone but herself. Selfish, self-centered, and power hungry.
The climax comes when the attack to Dorothy did not go as planned. Instead, Amy meets the Wizard again and he tells her how to defeat Dorothy. She has to take the Scarecrow’s brain, the Tin Woodman’s heart, and the Lion’s courage. Then and only then, can she defeat Dorothy. I love the showdown between Amy and the Tin Woodman. When she finally defeated him, it is revealed that Ozma had been hiding all along. Initially, we are led to believe that Ozma was a brainless child that had gone mad. I believe that it was Ozma’s last spell before she was defeated by Dorothy in No Place Like Oz.
The story ends with Amy vowing to kill Dorothy.
I recommend reading this book. Quick! I can’t wait for the sequel. I also want to make a comment about the cover. Ah-may-zing! Love it! The iconic bow, gingham dress, and ruby slippers covered in black! Awesome!