Summer Book Club Review: The Battle for Oz

Welcome to VGBlogger’s Summer Book Club! All summer long, we will be providing weekly book reviews across a wide range of geek favorite categories, including art, comics/graphic novels, fantasy, gaming, and sci-fi, and welcoming you to join in on book discussions in the comments. So whether you’re heading out for a road trip, going on vacation, lounging beach/poolside on a nice sunny day, relaxing inside away from the summer heat, or simply searching for a good read to fill your free time, follow our Summer Book Club for our top picks of what you should be reading during these hot summertime doldrums. Please enjoy!

TheBattleForOz

The worlds of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz collide in The Battle for Oz, author Jeyna Grace’s spin-off to the aforementioned children’s novels in which heroines Alice and Dorothy join forces against a new yet familiar threat.

In terms of timeline, The Battle for Oz is positioned chronologically as a successor to the events of the two stories. The Queen of Hearts has left Wonderland for Oz, where she has seized the throne in Emerald City and outlawed all magic (except for her own of course) under punishment of death, ruling over the citizens with a tyrant’s fist as the New Queen. Dorothy is once again called upon from her small farm life in Kansas to help save the Land of Oz, but this time she needs help from someone who has faced the Queen before, so she hop, hop, hops down the rabbit hole to seek aid from Alice.

Now young women in their late teens, Alice and Dorothy aren’t quite as innocent and wide-eyed as they were in their previous, individual adventures. Though the book is primarily aimed at young adult readers, it is a slightly darker interpretation of the stories that inspired it. Impulsive with an act first, think second mentality, Alice joins the fight armed with a flintlock pistol, short sword, deck of magic playing/throwing cards, and a belt of magic potions. Dorothy, ever cautious and contemplative, does some fighting of her own with a bullwhip, while also relying on a sack of candies and cookies imbued with different magical properties. Even little Toto gets to kick some feathered guard and troll butt, now capable of shape-shifting into other creatures thanks to one of those magical treats.

Being reintroduced to some of the other supporting characters was one of my favorite parts of the story, like reuniting with old friends that too have changed since Alice and Dorothy left them. Empowered by courage, the Cowardly Lion has become Brave Lion, chief guard of Emerald City. Scarecrow, now a Mr. Smarty Pants with a head full of brains, devotes all of his time to collecting and reading books and studying magic. Then there’s the Hatter, who pulls off a deadly impersonation of Oddjob from Goldfinger in his brief yet memorable appearance. It’s a lot of fun to meet new interpretations of these iconic characters.

As a short novel at 167 pages, The Battle for Oz isn’t written with much in the way of in-depth exposition. The author essentially wrote the story expecting readers to have at least some precursory knowledge of the characters and worlds, which is fine because I’m not sure why anyone would be interested without already having a familiarity with the inhabitants of Oz and Wonderland. That being said, I felt that there still could have been more backstory beyond the brief introductions whenever a character or setting appeared for the first time. Being condensed into more of a short story in size, the grand scale to the clash-of-worlds conflict is somewhat compromised, with events often arising and resolving so quickly that the outcomes don’t feel as impactful as they might have with more page time to set the scenes and build up tension. Of course, that may just be my adult-reader sensibilities kicking in, craving for richer characterization and worldbuilding that isn’t always necessary.

Nevertheless, The Battle for Oz is a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy adventure that mashes up two classic tales of literature and takes some interesting liberties to expand upon the stories with fun new themes and twists. It is written for a younger target audience, but adults who grew up reading about Alice’s rabbit hole drop into Wonderland and Dorothy’s cyclonic journey to the Land of Oz are in for a magical fairytale ride that’s fresh and nostalgic all in one.

Buy From: The Battle for Oz is available in paperback from Inkshares for $17.99 or Amazon.com for $12.99. It’s also available in e-book from both digital storefronts for only $0.99.

Disclosure: A review copy of The Battle for Oz was provided to VGBlogger.com by Inkshares.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!