"OUT OF OZ: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years," by Gregory Maguire, Harper Collins, $26.99, 568 pages (f)
Fans of Gregory Maguire's “Wicked” books can finally find closure with the arrival of the fourth volume of this bestselling series. “Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years” is the conclusion of Maguire’s retelling of the children’s favorite “The Wizard of Oz,” originally penned by L. Frank Baum. This new episode of the challenging events in Oz and the surrounding districts brings many threads to a close but also leaves a few with unsatisfying endings.
Lady Glinda Upland, formerly throne minister of Oz and friend to the Wicked Witch of the West, has been placed under house arrest by order of the Emperor of Oz, Shell Thropp. General Cherrystone, the power-hungry leader sent to do the bidding of the Emperor, strangely takes an interest in the education of the little servant girl, Rain, who works on Glinda’s staff.
Both sides grow suspicious when Brrr, the Cowardly Lion on the run from the authorities, shows up with a traveling show, an act that shows the prophecies of the Clock of the Time Dragon. No one is particularly happy with the revelations of the Clock and, in the end, Rain is sent with Brrr in search of her parents.
But what secret is hidden about the life and abilities of little Rain? Will she bring relief to a suffering people or vindicate all that Oz has become? And how will the arrival of Dorothy Hale from Kansas impact the proceedings?
Those who are familiar with Maguire’s style of writing will enjoy the wordplay he uses in describing the scenes in the story. There are many instances in which the language and storyline descend into crudeness. For new readers, be aware that the author likes to twist and change words to fit his own meaning. This mangling of the language may make it difficult to understand what is being said.
The journey of the motley pack through all the lands of Oz is enjoyable, to a degree. But there is a ponderous feel through large sections of the book. Unlike the original “Wicked” story, which was taut and adventurous, the last three books (including "Out of Oz") have a slower, more methodical feel and new readers may find it hard to trudge through the final parts.
Mike Whitmer lives in West Valley City and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.