The Oz Suite, Gerard Houarner

Review by Stephen Theaker Three separate novellas linked by their references to The Wizard of Oz (the film). Broadly speaking they can be taken as science fiction, fantasy and horror.

The first, ‘No We Love No One’, tells of pod people who fall to Earth, one child for every adult. ‘Bring Me the Head of That Little Girl Dorothy’ wonders if Oz was the invention of the Wicked Witch, rather than Dorothy. ‘The Wizard Will See You Now’ is about a child who survives a knife attack by his father.

I was a little disappointed that the Oz references are only to the films, rather than the books. It’s only in the films, for example, that Oz is implied to be something Dorothy cooks up in her own head. I think the books make it clear that she really does go there.

The author says in an afterword that he only got through a couple of the books. They can be pretty silly at times, but taken as a whole they present a much richer world than that of the films. It makes sense that the characters in these stories would be more aware of the films than the books, but I felt a bit cheated. It felt slightly disrepectful. Imagine how a sequel to Pride and Prejudice would be received if the author admitted to having watched only the movie…

Like the other Eibonvale books, The Oz Suite suffers from a couple of odd typesetting quirks – two spaces after full stops and gigantic indents of each first line.

The stories themselves are pretty good, and held my interest well. Their main strength was in characterisation rather than plot – none of the stories really went anywhere, but all three painted careful portraits of their damaged protagonists.

Eibonvale Press, pb, 152pp