William Morrow, $26.99, 568 pages
Things are not going well in the merry old land of Oz. A civil war between the provinces threatens to destroy a tenuous peace that followed the abrupt arrival and departure of young Dorothy Gale of Kansas. The story, the last in the popular Wicked Years series, picks up some years later with the introduction of a girlchild named Rain. Inheriting her grandmother’s distinctively green skin tone, the child, along with a powerful book of magic, is now pursued far and wide by potential friends and foes alike. With a misbegotten band of vagabonds that includes a mean-spirited dwarf, an ineffective deux ex machina, a kidnapped wife, a physically and emotionally damaged set of relatives, talking birds and Sir Brrr, the Cowardly Lion, Rain eventually lands in the Emerald City where the war and other loose ends are drawn to a conclusion.
Although hugely popular, Maguire’s distinctive writing style and vision of L. Frank Baum’s classic fairyland do not appeal to everyone. That said, readers familiar with the series as well as those who enjoy adult tales of separation, loss and longing that take place in an intricately constructed world will want to pick this one up.