Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Magic Belt

It's been awhile since we got an Oz-related book from Paul Miles Schneider, six years in fact since his second book The Powder of Life was released. And keeping in theme with that book and his first, Silver Shoes, the third one features an item from the third Oz book, Ozma of Oz, The Magic Belt.

Donald Gardner and his friends are having trouble going back to their day to day lives after the events of The Powder of Life as Halloween draws near. Not helping are the mysterious earthquakes happening nearby.

Donald actively wants to forget about Oz and just get back to a normal life, but it doesn't help when his classmate Katie gives him an old copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that someone has scribbled in.

Finally, Halloween rolls around and Donald and his friends go trick or treating, when they spot a new home that seems to be open for trick or treaters. However, the host isn't just dressed as a witch, she is a witch! Namely, Mombi!

Joining with Katie, old family secrets are turned up as Donald and his friends discover that the Nome King and Princess Langwidere have joined forces to reclaim the Magic Belt, which has been hidden in Kansas, its magic greatly decreased by hiding three gems from it in some very Ozzy places.

There's a number of twists and turns along the way and plenty of magic in tow, and some visits to actual places of interest to Oz fans, Schneider giving a wink and nod to places that celebrate Oz that he's visited.

This one wasn't quite as exciting as the first two books and it felt more like this was written to wrap up the series. If Schneider continues with stories about Donald, they might be more self-contained. As such, if you haven't read Silver Shoes or The Powder of Life lately, you might want to re-read them before getting into this one for the best effect.

Although there's a pretty major conclusion to the story this time, as said, it's not a huge, action-packed one and when the enemies were dealt with, there were still a few more chapters as everything else was being addressed. There were so many pages left I thought for sure there had to be one last encounter with the Nome King, but there wasn't. The writing is still quite engaging, and I wasn't bored with the story.

But that's not really a problem. The Magic Belt is concluding a trilogy and in that matter, I think it succeeds at concluding the over-arcing story. Donald has grown older and wiser and learned new things. The slower ending really handles that well. As a standalone, I wouldn't recommend it as there's a lot of things referenced that are better explained in the first two books.