Bad Wizard

bad_wizardI’m not a huge Wizard of Oz fan, but I’ve seen the movie and read at least some of the books as a child. That was plenty of background to enjoy this book. I suspect it’s even better if you are more steeped in this particular lore. The novel is part fantasy and part historical fiction, with strong attention to time period detail.

Some ten or fifteen years after Dorothy first visits Oz, she’s back in Kansas, working as a reporter covering, among other things, the Wizard, known in Kansas as Oscar Diggs. When the last of her family dies, Dorothy is losing her childhood home and struggling to find her way in the world. That’s when she rediscovers the magic shoes that brought her back from Oz so many years ago, from the adventure she has long since written off as a flight of fancy.

Little does she know, she’s about to be drawn into Diggs’s plot to get back to Oz and take over. 

I’ve read several of his books and Maxey always has engaging characters. This novel was no exception. Dorothy and Oscar were both fully realized with mixed motivations and biases. I always love a gray villain who has my sympathy even while he oversteps bounds. Diggs fits that bill perfectly. Dorothy, who always struck me as rather cardboard in the original story, was much more fully realized and I liked her a great deal. She’s one of those depression era women who get described with words like “spirited” or as having “moxie.”

The second-string characters, including some favorites from the Oz I remember from childhood (the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow, of course, as well as Munchkins and Flying Monkeys) and new creations, like Esau “The Flying Monkey” and Cain, are appropriately developed and intriguing. I especially liked Esau.

Speculative fiction can be an excellent playground for exploring morality and philosophy and Maxey does so here, without becoming pedantic or dry. I would say the book is both deep and fun, a hard balance to strike. I hope Maxey returns to this world for more books in the future.

About The Reviewer:

BRYANT-CroppedSamantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills.

Learn more about Samantha and her work at

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