Friday, October 03, 2014

Two small books of Oz

Many Oz fans attempt to write their own Oz stories and some excellent tales have been the result. However, sometimes we are left with a story that is full of enthusiasm and love for Oz but is not quite a masterpiece.

Skeezik and the Mys-Tree of Oz by Marcus Mebes (with additional stories by some friends mixed in) unfortunately falls into this category. Marcus wrote this quite some time ago and has mentioned that the book needed better editing.

A creature called a Skeezik approaches Ozma with a way to save the Kingdom of Meerth, the key being in the Mys-Tree, a dead hollow tree full of strange artifacts and stories that Ozma, Dorothy and their new friends must experience to break the spell.

While the premise sounds great, the book feels unfocused and the ending a little anticlimactic. A rewrite and some extra editing would have helped.

Marcus has improved as a writer since, and the Mys-Tree has appeared in later books from Buckethead Enterprises and Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends, including Melody Grandy's Seven Blue Mountains of Oz trilogy.

Skeezik is now out of print (at least, Chris Dulabone doesn't list it as available), but might be able to be found. Or perhaps it could get its much-needed revision one day.

There's another book from my order that I'll pair this review with, Emeralds: Hearts in Oz. It's a comic book, set in the present day. Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin and Trot have been training to be the new witches of the East, West and South, respectively. (An undisclosed person is training to be the North Witch.) Ozma's friends are heading to the Emerald City for a celebration where Dorothy is taking her new position.

That's pretty much the plot of the entire book. Also, the Scarecrow, Scraps, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and the Queen of the Field Mice have taken human forms thanks to magic, which was a bit of a disappointment to me. Part of the appeal of these characters is how they aren't human but are every bit as important as the human characters. Taking that away makes the characters a little uninteresting.

Perhaps if Emeralds had become a series as planned, this would have developed nicely. As it is, the first issue is all there was and doesn't make for a substantial story on its own. It came out in 2010, written by Jer Alford and drawn by Erin Ptah, and four years later, there's no second issue.


James C. Wallace II said...

Wow! You criticized Marcus. I'm stunned. I sense a new storyline here about a divided house falling. Go figure! LOL!!!!

Jared said...

I did not criticize Marcus. I criticized the book he wrote. There is a difference there. This is an old book and vastly different from Marcus' more recent works. Even writers like Eric Shanower have past works they aren't proud of. I only reviewed this because it came into my collection.

Anonymous said...

I was glad to see honest criticism. It is something hard to do in a friendly and relatively small community but is much more helpful.

Marcus said...

It doesn't speak well that you interpreted criticism of a work as a criticism of the writer. Jared's review is actually very kind considering how I feel about the book! My first book is a travesty that should be burned. I'm very willing to accept that people hate that book. As they should. My ego can take that blow.

Sam A M said...

When I looked through "Emeralds, Heart in Oz", I think the constant "shipping" and making almost all the characters in some relationship or couple was a bit much.