The Duality of Being Reborn | Review of ‘The Wizard Returns’ (Dorothy Must Die 0.3)

By Cynthia Ayala

The Wizard Returns by Danielle Paige HarperCollins

It’s said that the Wizard left Oz in a hot air balloon. What the tales left out what that a storm knocked him off his course and into the poppy fields to sleep. Until he was woken with no memory of who he was. But when ignorance is bliss it also teaches the Wizard that being good is all about perception, and acting has always been his specialty. With the biggest danger to Oz being Dorothy Gale, the Wizard might be the key—or the final piece in Oz’s destruction.

Published March 3, 2015, by HarperCollins, The Wizard Returns by Danielle Paige is the third in her short story collection that expands her take on Oz in her Dorothy Must Die series.

Everyone knows the Wizard of Oz, there was even a movie made of him staring James Franco. Not a particularly good one, but one exists. But this novel capitalizes on something that film touched upon: his selfishness, the conman in him. However, Paige doesn’t just present that in a cliché manner, she works to build towards it, she works to recreate the man essentially from scratch, but she doesn’t remove the past. Paige challenges the idea that people can change in this novella by wiping the memory from the Wizard. She gives him a new name and a new life, a new adventure that he has to find himself in to build him up. But everything that made him the man he was doesn’t change, who he really his, the person he is, comes to life in the story through his actions.

Paige is an excellent writer and the novellas allow her to go in deeper into who her characters are without dampening her actual novels. She also maintains a cohesive aspect to her storytelling. She works with what she has already established in her novels and then uses that information to build off of. This allows her to avoid (thus far) inconsistencies that would otherwise distract the reader. And that’s important the fact that she doesn’t take away from the overall story that is going on. These behind the scenes stories work like special features—deleted scenes—that only serve to raise the readers’ curiosity because the reader knows more than the protagonist, Amy Gumm, now, and that’s an interesting way to present layers to a story.

That being said, it’s not an essential story to the overall plot of the Dorothy Must Die series. What makes is work is the reader gets to see where the Wizard got his magic and they get to see into the world of the fairies. More importantly, readers get to see Ozma’s part to play in everything going on. So, again, there is a level of intrigue in the story and how the Wizard’s character develops, how he stays who he is, falling back into the same steps his former self took. So in that respect, while it doesn’t offer up a whole lot, it still makes for an interesting read, especially for readers who always want to know more about minor characters. (★★★★☆ B+)

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