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Book Review

Book Cover

Dorothy: The Darker Side of Oz


Author: Scott Stanford
Wild Wolf Publishing
RRP: £9.99, US $16.99
ISBN: 978 1 907954 18 4
Available 28 November 2011

Given, that there are around fifty Oz books, fourteen written by L. Frank Baum, as well as films, musicals and television adaptations, is there room in the market for any more? Scott Stanford certainly thinks so with his fourth novel Dorothy: The Darker Side of Oz. The popularity of the original tale meant that it not only appeared in its original form, it would also be referenced in other projects, like Zardoz.

This is not the first, nor would I suspect, the last time someone has taken Baum’s original story and given it a more macabre sheen. Here Stanford has tried to rework the original novel and give it much more width and depth, increasing the characters back stories and concentrating on character development.

Although, he has kept the idea of Dorothy travelling the Yellow Brick Road, to the Emerald City, with companions the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the cowardly Lion, he has changed the linear nature of the journey to add more lands for the quartet to travel through.

The book has a couple of potential problem for new readers. The first is that Dorothy is plunged almost immediately into Oz, within very few pages, with no attempt to engage the reader with her; it was akin to meeting someone seconds before both of you get onto a roller coaster. This is unlikely to be a problem for anyone who has either read the original, or even watched the film and let’s face it there can’t be many who haven’t, but for a younger less experienced reader, the suddenness of her insertion into Oz might confuse and disincline the reader to continue.

The second issue I had was with the style of writing. At first, I couldn't figure out why everything was being described for the characters, without them being allowed to talk for themselves. The book appears to be written as if it should be read aloud and in fact if you approach the book in this way the style makes much more sense. However, the dark nature of the book probably makes it unsuitable for young reader’s night time tales.

Once I got into the book, there was much to enjoy about the narrative. Although not the first, this is another in a line of a more adult look at the world created by Baum. Given the amount of Oz novels already available, there is a large and mature market for this type of novel, though I probably wouldn’t buy it for anyone under fourteen.


Charles Packer

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