At Oz Con this year, I met Ray Kelley, who was handing out cards promoting his e-book, The Magic Scroll of Oz, which was available through Amazon's Kindle service for only $.99. At that price, I decided it was worth a shot and downloaded it the next time I was near a Wi-Fi friendly spot and began reading it on my trip home.
This is not a long book, and the author said he wanted to be faithful to Baum's world. However, opening the book reminded me of stories I'd read in Oz Reimagined. Yes, the book does cleverly stay in Baum's world, but it's not in the same style. Although it doesn't get excessively violent or explore mature themes, this is not an Oz book for young readers.
The book opens by revealing that Dorothy has tired of Emerald City life and now helps Jack Pumpkinhead on his farm. There also seems to be a rift between Dorothy and Ozma.
Glinda approaches Dorothy with a quest to recover the Royal Historian's magic scroll, which can alter the past, present and future of Oz. Dorothy uses a remaining scrap to create a live stick figure man named Stickler, who gives advice and points the way to the rest of the scroll.
Dorothy is joined by the Cowardly Lion and Sawhorse as she travels north towards the Land of Ev to recover the scroll and discover who was behind the theft.
The book is a fine adventure story and cleverly makes use of Baum's world, even making a visit to Merryland. However, its tone is very dour for an Oz book. Much of the theme seems to be Dorothy revisiting already trodden ground. There is almost no humor to the story. That, however, is the stylistic approach, not a flaw.
There are some continuity gaffes as well. Dorothy mentions facing the Scoodlers with the Wizard, when it was the Shaggy Man. There's a reference to Nome King's tunnel still being open, when The Emerald City of Oz says Ozma closed it. (But, to be fair, Jack Snow makes the same gaffe in The Shaggy Man of Oz.) Tik-Tok is found in the Royal Palace of Ev and said to be the Royal Army, which is not in line with Baum's books. No explanation is made as to why Tik-Tok has returned to his country of origin. In addition, the rift between Dorothy and Ozma never feels as if it's properly addressed.
Altogether, it's a fine read and also sets up possibilities for what could be even better follow-ups. At the modest price, it's worth checking out.