After finishing 'Out of Oz', I had to read more of the original Oz books. I've heard widely varying reports about the quality of them, but I figured I'd give 'Ozma' a go. And it's a lot of fun, weird, and dark. The Nome King is diabolical, lots of gleeful rubbing of hands and entrapment while he lures Ozma, Dorothy, and her friends into an awful predicament -- all while looking and sounding like Santa Claus.
And if you thought the Kalidahs in 'The Wizard of Oz' were unnerving, just wait until you see Neill's illustrations of the Wheelers. I'm fond of Denslow's illustrations for the original and still dislike how Neill decided to draw Dorothy like some china doll instead of a Midwestern farm girl, but his talents are undeniable. They add a lot of charm to the bizarre characters Baum invented for this book to establish Oz as a series to return to. I loved the follow-ups and returns of characters from the two earlier books, and General Jinjur's cameo at the end is hysterical. Jinjur may have settled down with a nice man, but she still teaches him a lesson with her fist every now and then when he doesn't milk a cow properly. How was that OK for a children's book even a hundred years ago? Silly. The Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion appear with limited success, not really adding anything to the story, but present anyway.
The new characters were great, the aforementioned Nome King of course, as well as Billina the talking hen, Princess Langwidere with her 30 interchangeable heads, and the Hungry Tiger whose conscience prevents him from enjoying a nice, tender, plump baby for a meal. Much better than I could have anticipated, I'll still tread warily when it comes to future reads of Oz books, but its good to know I can still enjoy them.
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Previous: 'The Land of Oz'