3 out of 4 stars
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Lions and tigers and bears, you say? Humbug! How about vampires and werebeasts and zombies? Now, THEY are something to be afraid of! And so these creatures populate Garten Gevedon's book, Dorothy in the Land of Monsters, the author's take on the Wizard of Oz tale.
Since most of us already know the story of Dorothy and her visit to the land of Oz, I won't bore you with the details of the storyline since book one of the Oz Revamped series pretty much follows the same [yellow brick] road as the original. It's just...different. For one thing, in this visit to Oz, the road is covered in blood from the battles between the aforementioned creatures. Fortunately for Ms. Gale, not all of the creatures are evil. Standing in for the scarecrow, for instance, is a friendly zombie named Millard Vorona (he prefers to be called "Ardie") who wishes he hadn't been turned and wants to ask the wizard for a cure. In a punny wink to the original yarn, Ardie does want brains, but in this case, he wants to eat them, constantly. Nick Chopper is the axeman, a nineteen-year-old human in armor, who spends his time killing all manner of creatures. He thinks of himself as being heartless since he kills with no regrets or guilt. Lastly, we have a werelion who is officially named Clem, but he likes to just go by "Werelion." As expected, he is seeking courage. The wicked witches are replaced by vampire witches, and the wizard is unlike any Ozian wizard that I’ve read about before. Some of the citizens of the The City of Emeralds are fleshed out well too. As for Dorothy herself? I'll just say that the lady in this book is nobody's damsel in distress, and she'll let others know it in a heartbeat. Since she's seventeen years old here, she's far less innocent than the original heroine and able to fight her own bloody battles.
As a big fan of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as well as monster stories, I was really psyched to read this tale, and Ms. Gevedon did not let me down. The author definitely put her stamp on this story while also adhering to the path that Mr. Baum laid down. I especially liked the addition of many magical elements that the original story did not include, but I won't go into details so you can enjoy the wonder of discovering things on your own. Dorothy in the Land of Monsters also added several romances that did not seem odd, given the foundation that the author provided. Still, what I liked most about this tale was how much more most of the scenes were fleshed out, thereby making for a fuller read. I very much enjoyed spending more time in the lands of Oz, including new locations Zombieland and The Enchanted Hollow. Getting a good look into Dorothy's thoughts was also a lot of fun. This Ms. Gale was quite a bit more faceted than the original, in both good and bad ways. Unfortunately, being closer to a real human also meant that she annoyed me quite a bit, but it was a small price to pay for her humanity.
One thing that I did find odd about this book was Dorothy's voice. For the most part, she narrated simply, but when she was describing things, she started pulling out words that even Webster would have trouble defining. I had no problems following along, but the duality was a little unsettling. For instance, she'd go from narrating in the same vein that I'm writing this review to a sentence like "Chills run up and down my spine as I take in the macabre vista before me - patches of lush greensward smeared in scarlet pepper the radiant frightful landscape..." Additionally, I wished the author had taken the same care with the editing, as I found a number of simple errors in the tome, including typos, missing or extra words, and problems with homophones. There were a number of inconsistencies as well. As an example, the character Jellia never introduced herself, yet Dorothy knew her name. Elsewhere, a different character was said to have a palace in the west, yet he was the King of the East.
As much as I enjoyed this magical, fanciful, thrilling walk and ride through Oz, I must rate Dorothy in the Land of Monsters 3 out of 4 stars because of the grammatical issues and inconsistencies. Even so, I highly recommend this tale to fans of the original text, readers who enjoy stories with monsters, and people who like magical tales. I will note that this yarn is NOT FOR CHILDREN. There are sexual situations as well as profanity and scenes of moderately graphic violence. I'd also like to note that there are three more parts to the series planned, and I intend to read them all, for while Baum's Dorothy says there is "no place like home," I feel there's no place like Gevedon's Oz.
Dorothy in the Land of Monsters
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