Spelled

by Betsy Schow
First sentence: “
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy picked up at CI3 and signed by the author, who was a delightful person to talk to.
Content: Language-wise, it’s probably more advanced than the younger middle grade set can handle (unless they’re precocious), but content-wise there’s nothing. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8), but it’d be good for a 4th or 5th grader as well.

You know, living in Kansas there’s one thing we get a lot around here: Oz stories. Seriously. It has its own section in the bookstore. And every time a spinoff comes (or a new reissue of the classic story, or a book about the film), we all kind of roll our eyes, knowing that we’ll have customers who just eat this stuff up.

This book is no exception.

It’s basically a twist on the Oz tale: Dorothy (Dorothea in this version) is a princess in the Emerald tower, and she’s kept captive because of a curse that was placed on her when she was born. As she’s gotten older, she’s grown to hate the restrictions on her life, and so she breaks the protection spell…. and all havoc breaks loose. Magic is turned upside down, the wicked witches are let loose, and suddenly Dorothea, her maid Riz, and her fiance (it happened very suddenly) are on an adventure to set things right.

If you know the plot of the book (or the movie for that matter). you’ll recognize the arc of Dorothea’s quest. And that’s okay. Schow was riffing on the well-known story, adding her own elements (having Ozma be the Hydra and turn into Baba Yaga was a nice tough). But, it was really just okay. The humor was okay. The romance was okay. The twist at the end was… okay. It never really became more than just “this is a decent book.” Which isn’t bad. And I’m sure fans of Oz will really like this one.

I suppose I was just hoping for more than okay.

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