I would actually give this book 3.5 stars if that was an option. It was definitely odd, but mostly a fun odd.
I had read that the book was a retelling of The Wizard of Oz, with Sarah Canary cast as Dorothy. I love a good re-envisioning of a well-known tale (and I love the Oz books), so I happily tried to match up characters, figuring out who was supposed to be the wicked witch, scarecrow, tin woodsman, cowardly lion, etc. It's a very loose adaptation, but I can see the basic ideas. (If you want more plot details, this a good review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
). If I hadn't been searching for the Wizard of Oz parallels, I probably would not have made it through the entire book, as it often gets bogged down in the details.
Overall, I'm glad I read to the end. It was an interesting glimpse of life post-Civil War in the "Wild West" now known as the greater Seattle area and San Francisco. I particularly enjoyed the history snippets that were wedged between chapters of narrative. Sometimes the truth is as strange as the fiction.
I did not, however, enjoy the bits of Emily Dickinson poetry that started each chapter, as I can't stand Emily Dickinson...but that's just me.
(I picked this novel because I enjoyed Fowler's short story "Halfway People" in My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales