For those of us who enjoy a journey to the Land of Oz, the recent cancellation of NBC's #EmeraldCity felt truly wicked. Sure, it wasn't a perfect season, but what first season is? The unique, adult-oriented take on #Oz showed promise and left us anticipating all that would happen in season two, but now we're left stranded at the end of the rainbow –– or are we?
While there is no planned return to Oz on television, we continue to get fresh content through the original Wizard of Oz medium –– literature. Since L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was released 117 years ago, this merry old magical land has been the setting for numerous novels; some of which were released just this year.
Thanks to the freedom that comes with Oz being under public domain, authors have the ability to reimagine, recreate, and elaborate on Baum's creations. Of all the books that have arrived in the wake of Dorothy's first trip to Oz, three recent titles offer up fresh and exciting new narratives. If you are reeling from the loss of Emerald City, or just looking for a way back to Oz, these series maybe be just what you need:
1. Dorothy Must Die
The books begin with a very different Oz; one that is under the thumb of a power-hungry Princess Dorothy Gale. Now on the verge of becoming a Hunger Games-like wasteland, the once magical land is in a state of fear encouraged by Dorothy's tyrannical grip and reinforced by her old friends-turned-henchmen. From enslaving flying monkeys to torturing civilians and depleting Oz's magic, Dorothy is a force that must be stopped. Enter Amy Gumm.
A pink-haired, teenage badass and social misfit, Amy is swept straight out of a Kansas trailer park. As she explores the land from her favorite childhood movie, Amy soon faces violence, death, and terror in what has become Dorothy's nightmare perversion of Oz. Taken in by an underground resistance group, Amy is given the combat and magic training she needs for her new mission: killing Dorothy. Working alongside characters both old and new, will Amy be able to do what she must; can she kill Dorothy?
A young adult series that will give you all the feels, Dorothy Must Die includes four core books: Dorothy Must Die, The Wicked Will Rise, Yellow Brick War, and the recently released, The End of Oz. For those who can't get enough of Paige's unique take on Oz, there are several prequel novellas compiled into Dorothy Must Die Stories, volumes 1-3.
For fans of Emerald City and all things Wizard of Oz, Dorothy Must Die is now the best bet for a televised return to Oz. A few years ago, The CW was said to be negotiating a deal to produce a TV series based on the books.
2. The Wicked Years
Get ready for a radical evaluation of one of the most famous and feared villains of all time.
Most people hear the title Wicked and think of the musical, but years before it was reconfigured into a Broadway hit, Wicked was a novel that asked how the Wicked Witch of the West became so wicked. An anti-totalitarian agitator, an animal-rights activist, a nun, a nurse, and, eventually, the most feared witch in Oz –– do any of us really know the Wicked Witch?
Taking place over several years leading up to Dorothy's arrival, Wicked begins with the birth of Elphaba, the misunderstood green-skinned girl with an intolerance for water. In a narrative relayed through the perspectives of various Ozians, including Elphaba's university roommate Glinda, readers experience Oz in an unparalleled tale. While unfolding in the profoundly detailed iteration of Oz, the events of Elphaba's life will have you questioning your ideas on the nature of good and evil through social, political, and ethical lenses.
Elaborate, witty, and cynical, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was followed by three other novels, each narrated through the perspectives of the Elphaba's son, Liir, his daughter, Rain, and other, more familiar characters, including the Cowardly Lion and, yes, even Dorothy. For anyone who loves the original Oz novels, The Wicked Years are the adult counterparts you didn't know you needed.
3. The Storymakers
Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day. Yeah, in this day and age, we aren't having that any more than Dorthea, the heroin of Spelled. Living a glamorous life as the crown princess of Emerald, things don't entirely suck for Dorthea until a forced marriage comes her way. In an attempt to make her prince problem disappear, she wishes on (what turns out to be) a cursed star, setting her story in motion.
Among other things, the fallout of Dorthea's wish-gone-wrong left everyone she loves stuck in an unknown place called “Kansas” while her homeland, Story, is in complete chaos. Teaming up with the now royally pissed prince she tried to avoid marrying, Doretha sets out to reverse the curse by finding the Wizard of Oz. She'd better hurry, too, because once the curse reaches the wickedest of all witches, it's game over for the land of Story.
Spelled is Betsy Schow’s debut young adult novel, and the first in The Storymakers series. Described as Wicked meets Enchanted, Spelled will lure you in with laughter, love, and magic and keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. The next book in the series, Wanted, was released this year, while the third installment is still in the works.
What is your favorite Wizard of Oz-inspired book series? Share your thoughts in the comments below!