Sunday, 1 September 2013

What I've Been Reading:'The Marvelous Land of Oz' by L Frank Baum

So, this is the second installment in the Oz series. It's kind of freaky, full of weird creatures and bizarre situations, and Dorothy doesn't so much as make an appearance (although she is referenced at one point) and yet this is still a fun little read.

The story opens with Tip, a farmboy fostered by illegal witch Old Mombi, who thinking it would be fun to scare his cruel guardian, creates Jack Pumpkinhead, a strange man made out of sticks and a pumpkin carved to look like a face. After Old Mombi casts an experimental spell on Jack, his unlikely form is brought to life, beginning a crazy adventure for himself and they young boy Tip.

Despite Dorothy's absence from the book, her old companions the Tin Man and The Scarecrow do make an appearance. The Scarecrow, now King of Oz and terribly weighed down by the crown sewn to his cloth head, has begun to let his brains get the better of him and spends his days sitting on his throne, chewing over the deep thoughts he had so longed for. The Tin Man on the other hand is now the kind-hearted leader of his own Empire, choosing to claim himself Emperor rather than King as he prefers the idea of a democracy over that of a kingdom.

But our Scarecrow leader is soon to find his seat on the throne at risk as a band of young feminists from across Oz turn up at the gates to the Emerald City wielding sharp knitting needles and a strong desire to overthrow the King and create a Matriarchal society where men will be repressed the way women have been for so long. Of course, the Emeralds paving the streets of Oz would also be a bit of a bonus.

This is a curious novel that was obviously heavily influenced by events at the time of its writing (the Suffrage movement springs to mind). It's definitely worth a read if you're into the whole Oz thing.

3/5

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