REVIEW: The Wizard Returns (Dorothy Must Die #0.3) by Danielle Paige

The Wizard ReturnsRating: 3 out of 5 stars, Genre: Science Fiction, Pages: 100, Level: Easy

Book Description:

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.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I am a huge Wizard of Oz fan as well as Wizard of Oz retellings or reimaginings. I loved the misunderstood Elphaba of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, which I have read twice so far. I love the graphic novels collaboration between Eric Shanower and Marvel comics; I own all six in hardcover. And of course I have the entire original series in a beautiful, five volume, trade paperback edition.

Of the original series, I have only read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz and The Woggle-Bug Book, the last a short story, but that is enough for me to bemoan some of the changes Paige made in her series.

First, the slippers. I made an error in a previous review and added a revision at the end, but I’d like to address it again. I agree that ruby is more striking than silver and probably more people have seen the movie rather than read the book, but I was disappointed Paige did not remain faithful on this detail:

   I pulled the lid off and found myself looking at a pair of shoes. That was when I was certain.
   Because they weren’t just any shoes. They were the most beautiful shoes I’d ever seen. They were red…
                                                                                                                        -No Place Like Oz

Glinda explains the change in color in a letter accompanying the gift:

I thought about silver to match the ones you lost, but in the end I decided that red was more your color.
   Because they weren’t just any shoes. They were the most beautiful shoes I’d ever seen. They were red…
                                                                                                                        -No Place Like Oz

Then there is the Emerald City. Once again, Paige opted for the Technicolor version:

That was just one of the Wizard’s many idiosyncrasies. Now that he’s gone, people are allowed to see clearly again. The city’s green enough without the glasses anyway. Ozma installed quite a bit more emerald once she took over…
   Because they weren’t just any shoes. They were the most beautiful shoes I’d ever seen. They were red…
                                                                                                                        -No Place Like Oz

Okay, except earlier in the book:

How do you go back to a two-bedroom farmhouse in Kansas when you’ve been in a palace made of emeralds?
   Because they weren’t just any shoes. They were the most beautiful shoes I’d ever seen. They were red…
                                                                                                                        -No Place Like Oz

But Ozma would have added the emeralds after Dorothy went back to Kansas, so Dorothy wouldn’t have any memories of being in a castle full of emeralds, right? I’m so confused. Am I remembering something incorrectly from the original series?

Maybe Paige prefers a more colorful story. Or maybe it easier to change the colors rather than continuously explaining to every new character why a white city is referred to as the Emerald City. Personally, I think it would have made a great joke, like Dr. Who and how people always comment on the Tardis and how the inside is bigger than the outside, except that one time when someone comments that the outside is smaller than the inside… But I digress…

Another thing that bothered me:

If he had the Old Magic, the gifts, the throne- nothing would be able to stop him. Not Dorothy, not Glinda, not a bunch of goths in black bathrobes…” p73

Was ‘goth’ used this way in the early 1900s? I consulted the omniscient and ever-present Wikipedia, which said that goths originated circa the 1980s. That seems like a pretty big anachronism, since the Wizard would not have experienced the 1980s or later.

Finally, I don’t think The Wizard Returns was as interesting as No Place Like Oz or The Witch Must Burn and I didn’t really care for the whole flying monkey storyline. Also, the characters felt a little wishy-washy and inconsistent. Despite the previous issues I had with the series so far, these were the main reasons I rated this novella lower than its predecessors, although the story is necessary to lay the groundwork for the battle I anticipate in Dorothy Must Die or any sequels.

I still like the idea behind the series and am excited to begin the first full length novel- Dorothy Must Die.

Reviewed by Christina
June 7, 2015

Books in this series-

No Place Like OzWitch Must BurnWizard ReturnsHeart of TinDorothy Must DieWicked Will Rise

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