Since reading The Patchwork Girl of Oz, I’ve been complaining that many of these later sequels are subpar to the magic and wonder of the original The Wizard of Oz (released in 1900) and Ozma of Oz, still the best of the sequels. I was particularly disappointed by The Scarecrow of Oz and Rinki-Tink of Oz, both which felt like non-Oz books, with some generic Oz elements thrown in during the last few chapters. With only four books left to go in Baum’s series, I was worried there wouldn’t be any bright light as I reach the end of this journey. Was there going to be a late surprise? YES!
The Lost Princess of Oz is grand entertainment, a rousing adventure all the way through, and it does everything right where so many of the other sequels have gone wrong. What works here?
One, a simple story. The last two sequels were so damn complicated sometimes I’d start skimming. In this one, Ozma gets kidnapped, and her friends have to find her. That’s it. And it makes for a fun journey.
Two, we actually get to spend the book with the characters we adore! Unlike Rinki-Tink in Oz, which introduces us to new characters for 250 pages and then throws Dorothy and Ozma in the last couple characters, The Lost Princess of Oz gives us Glinda and Dorothy and the Scarecrow and many others from the early books, from the get-go! Baum does spend too much time in the middle portion with the amazing Frogman character, but even he is one of the more charming new characters of these later sequels.
Three, there’s a strong and at times spooky villain, Ugu, the Shoemaker. Not only are the illustrations of this old, vindictive man rather eerie, but he is easily the most memorable villain Baum has created since the Nome King. What happens to him, and where he ends up in the end, is also unexpected, and surprisingly beautiful.
And four, this adventure, unlike some of the others, feels fresh, with lots of innovative ideas along the way, one of my favorites being a wall of ghost girl soldiers who pretend to have the power to keep the core characters away from Ugu’s lair.
Now… just three titles to go. After Baum died, the books continued by John R. Neill, but I wanted to focus solely on the works Baum had his stamp on. As I get nearer to the end, I’m interested to see if there’s any sense of finality in Glinda of Oz, Baum’s final book, but I’m not done yet! I’m excited to see if the Tin Woodman gets his own story in book 12, and not be tossed off to the side for the majority of the pages like the Scarecrow did in book 9.
Not every sequel has been a success, but I’m so happy to see the amount of fun Baum seems to had on The Lost Princess of Oz, easily the best sequel of the series since The Emerald City of Oz. If you’re not going book by book like I am, and just simply want to read a fun later sequel, give The Lost Princess of Oz a try. It’s a great read!