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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Novella Review: The Wizard Returns

Release Date: March 3, 2015
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 71 pages
Source: Library eBook

The Wizard left Oz in a hot air balloon—or did he? This digital original novella is the third installment in the prequel arc to the edgy and exciting New York Times bestseller Dorothy Must Die.

Dorothy Gale is back . . . and she's not the sweet little heroine of Oz anymore. She's power-hungry and vicious, and she leaves a trail of destruction beneath her spike-heeled, magical shoes. But she wasn't always in charge. There used to be a different ruler of Oz. Someone who also came from the Other Place, and who stole power for himself. They called him the Wizard.

The story goes that when a young Dorothy revealed the Wizard as a fraud, the man behind the curtain fled Oz in his hot air balloon. But in The Wizard Returns, he wakes in a field of poppies to find out that not only had he never left, but that he has no memory of who—or where—he is. As he undergoes a series of tests to uncover his memories, he finds that the very girl who threw him from the Emerald Palace is in control. And that Oz may be his destiny after all.

The Wizard Returns by Danielle Paige is a dark and compelling reimagining of a beloved classic and is perfect for fans of Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

    

Review:

Protagonist: If you thought the Wizard of Oz actually left Oz in that hot air balloon of his, you'd be wrong. Shortly after departing the Emerald City the wizard is caught in a great storm and crash lands in a remote part of the Field of Poppies. After being awoken by a boy named Pete, the wizard, now referred to as Hex, doesn't remember who he is. Pete guides him through a series of trials that, if he passes, can lead him home, or perhaps to something greater. Something I've noticed about Danielle Paige is that not only does she have fantastic skill in differentiating the various points of views for this world, but she also provides a variety of types of narrators. In the first novella, we have a "good" character slowly becomes corrupt, in the second we have a "good" character find her strength and resolve to fight back however she can, but in this installment, we have something new. The wizard was not a good man, as far as we know he did not have Oz's best interests at heart, but we don't really meet the wizard, we meet Hex, a man who's lost his memory, but who may just be as selfish and power hungry as the former wizard. I found Hex's growth over the novella very compelling. It was entertaining to see this man, formerly known as the Great and Powerful Oz, be reduced to a man who didn't even know his own name.

World Building: The world building in this story is far different than I expected. After reading the synopsis I'd assumed that we'd see more of the Emerald City and find out what the Wizard's true motives are regarding Dorothy and Glinda. However, most of this adventure the wizard doesn't even know who he is. Instead, we see him going through a few trials to prove his worth, including facing the flying monkeys that he betrayed to the Wicked Witch of the West. In fact, a great deal of this novella deals with the Wingless Ones, flying monkeys who've clipped their wings, and thus the control that humans can have on them. There's a great deal of other world building, all of which I found completely fascinating, it was interesting to see a tale so far removed from Dorothy and Glinda. As for if you could read this story before the first full-length installment? I'd say you can, there isn't any risk of spoiling anything from the main series, although there is one thing that's revealed, something that made me check to see if this came out before the second book because it felt  a bit like a spoiler, but it's just something revealed in this story.

Predictability: So, I'm not quite sure what to write here. I mean there are things that build and get to a climactic point and secrets are revealed and twists in the story happen, but honestly there wasn't a lot of foreshadowing. A lot of this novella felt like I was taken along on an adventure but I had no idea where it led or what would happen. I feel as though a lot of that had to do with the fact that Hex had amnesia and his guide Pete wouldn't tell him anything. This led to me not knowing much and then when a twist would arrive, and let me tell you there are a few really good ones, I would be more blown away than I usually am.

Ending: I feel like it would be a spoiler to talk too much about what happened at the end. In fact, I've written this out a few times to varying results, none of them particularly good. What I will say about this ending is that, even with all the character development we see Hex go through, it isn't until the very end that we have a great understanding of why it is the Wizard returns, and what it is he plans on doing.

Rating:


Is it bad that I have given all of the novellas that I've read in this series five stars so far and the only full-length story four stars? I mean, I enjoyed DMD, but I think the shorter form of these stories makes for a great highly concentrated story that is almost impossible to put down.

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