Welcome to this our February selection of recently acquired science fiction and fantasy titles. This month, to celebrate the release of Wicked author Gregory Maguire’s latest sortie into the world of Oz, we present to you a short piece on this magical land in literature and beyond.
The first book to journey to the marvellous land of Oz was L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, released in 1901. The book was an instant runaway success from the start, quickly selling out its first edition of 10,000 copies and undergoing numerous reprints, often under the title The Wizard of Oz. This success quickly spawned a hugely successful early musical stage show in 1902 and a further thirteen additional Oz books by L. Frank Baum followed.
The land of Oz has of course a long and magical legacy in film as well as literature, from the classic 1939 live-action film to The Wiz — a 1970s musical financed by Motown records and by Universal Pictures and starring Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow and Richard Pryor as the Wizard, set in African American culture.
All of which brings us to the modern cultural phenomenon of the Wicked book series and the unstoppable globetrotting multi-award winning musical that is also soon to be released as two major Hollywood movies. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire is the first in the hugely popular series of books that reimagine the Oz story. The other books in the series are: Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men and Out of Oz. There is also a Wicked sequel trilogy consisting of The Brides of Maracoor , The Oracle of Maracoor and the newly released The Witch of Maracoor. As well, there’s also a Wicked childhood prequel called Elphie: A Wicked Childhood, due out in October 2024.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been described by the Library of Congress as “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale”.
Incidentally the stories have become such an important part of American culture that the Ruby slippers from the 1939 movie are now housed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.
Below is a link to The Witch of Maracoor and our other selected titles for this month.
The witch of Maracoor : a novel / Maguire, Gregory
“Following a confrontation with her reclusive great-grandfather, the one-time Wizard of Oz, Rainary Ko — the granddaughter of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West — has re-upped in a mission to settle a few scores and right a wrong or two. Her memory and her passions reviving, Rain turns her gaze back to her native Oz. Though the Grimmerie, which she had cast into the sea, retains its arcane power over her, the lover she left behind in Oz proves no less haunting. Traveling companions and arrivistes can befuddle a young witch coming into her own, but Rain marshals a steely determination to stare her troubles in the eye and see who blinks first.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The Witchwood Knot / Atwater, Olivia
“The faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal him back. Victorian governess Winifred Hall knows a con when she sees one. When her bratty young charge transforms overnight into a perfectly behaved block of wood, she soon realises that the real boy has been abducted by the Fair Folk. Unfortunately, the lord of Witchwood Manor is the only man in England who doesn’t believe in faeries-which leaves Winnie in the unenviable position of rescuing the young lord-to-be all by herself. Witchwood Manor is bigger than its inhabitants realise, however, and full of otherworldly dangers…” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook – The Witchwood Knot