There are so many really great aspects of this book that I hardly know where to start. I am still fairly dazed by it, but I want to review it before t...moreThere are so many really great aspects of this book that I hardly know where to start. I am still fairly dazed by it, but I want to review it before the magic wears off. So here goes.
It's set in San Francisco in the days when the city was still a rowdy town dedicated to entertaining hard men who were seeking their fortunes in California. It was a polyglot city full of people from most of the world, drawn here by gold, the mild climate and a free-wheeling lifestyle. Emma Donoghue takes full advantage of her carnival-like setting, filling the reader's senses with color, odors, dazzling light and velvet darkness.
Intrinsic to the story is the music running through it. Folk songs, lullabies, broadside ballads and opera arias thread their way through, sharpening the narrative and pointing out important parts to the puzzle that forms the heart of the tale. From the violin, the hurdy-gurdy and the barrel organ to the croaking of the frogs, Donoghue's setting is never silent.
The action is set in a very real past in a record heat wave and a small pox epidemic. As the city swelters, an exotic, cross dressing local character is shot. Who killed Jenny Bonnet? Her friend Blanche, a danseuse of flexible virtue, wants to know.
Told in almost cinematic leaps in time, the tale of Blanche's doomed friendship with Jenny fascinates the reader. It becomes even more amazing if you know in advance that this novel is based on a true cold case from San Francisco history. The author has truly done her homework to give us a slice of life from Old San Francisco. I for one loved it. I truly want to button-hole all my reading friends and urge them to read this one. Do it!(less)
Amy Gumm was alone in her world. She had no friends at high school and her mother lived in a pill fueled funk. All she needed to complete her life was...moreAmy Gumm was alone in her world. She had no friends at high school and her mother lived in a pill fueled funk. All she needed to complete her life was for a tornado to hit their trailer and carry her off.
Wait a minute...Does that sound familiar? Well sort of, maybe. She does land in Oz, but not the Oz you remember from the books and the Judy Garland movie. Somewhere over the rainbow, things have gone to hell in Dorothy's basket.
Why is Glinda the Good tormenting Munchkins? Why would a flying monkey deliberately cut off his wings? Why is Dorothy back from Kansas and ruling as a magic crazy princess in Emerald City? How could the good guys turn bad and why are the Wicked Witches Amy's only friends?
I'm not going to tell you! You'll have to read this witty update of the old story. Don't worry, you'll like it. I was dubious about this because I've been hooked on Oz since I was four years old. I taught myself to read from Oz books. But Danielle Paige didn't disappoint me. She handles the material of the old books deftly and respectfully, while exposing her new story cleverly in surprising twists and turns. The end comes all too soon and I'm happy to tell there is already a sequel.
I heartily recommend this to all Oz fans, to fantasy lovers and to those who appreciate a play on words.