Reviewed by Shannon Hopkins

Nobody ever really leaves Oz.

The epic that culminates with Out of Oz began for most of us not when we saw Wicked on Broadway, or even when we picked up Gregory Maguire’s 1995 book of the same name. No, our Oz story began the very first time we saw Judy Garland step out of her farmhouse and into a technicolor dream world.

That being said, this is not the Oz we thought we knew.

Before you continue, the most important thing to know is that Out of Oz, this intricately woven conclusion to the Wicked Years series, will make little sense to you if you have not read Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. If you haven’t been introduced to Maguire’s dark, disturbing and impossibly beautiful adaptation of Oz, I urge you to acquaint yourself before continuing.

No one mourns the wicked…

The sixteen years since the death of the Wicked Witch of the West have not been good for Oz. Ongoing civil war between Loyal Oz and Free Munchkinland to the east has reached a stalemate, and both sides are feverishly seeking the Grimmerie — the fabled magic book of dubious origin — and its keeper, hoping to tip the balance in their favor.

The hunt for the book, and its guardians’ quest to keep it hidden, lead the entire cast of characters on varied journeys across Oz, where they learn more about themselves and each other than any could have imagined. Old mysteries are unearthed, old visitors revisited, and old history rewritten, and when the dust settles Oz will be changed for good.

Like many novels with ensemble casts, Out of Oz has its fair share of subplots running parallel to the main story. Unlike others, however, every word of every side story brings each character closer to her or his destiny in the very heart of Oz…and in their own hearts as well.

Out of Oz is a book of questions, asked and answered. Who is Rain, and will she discover her true identity? What secrets is the mysterious Tip hiding? Who will win the war and take control of Oz once and for all? And, foremost on everyone’s mind, what really happened to Elphaba sixteen years ago?

Maguire’s trademark is dividing his stories into sections based on significant places, people, or events that are introduced, which provides much-needed continuity in a story that can quickly become confusing even for the Oz scholar. After all, the Oz of this series is a three-dimensional world the locations of which are far more developed than L. Frank Baum could ever have imagined. It has a history, and persons of importance, and Maguire brings all of these to life in moving, eloquent prose that draws the reader into Oz as surely as Dorothy herself was drawn. While he gives the reader small clues to suggest what may lie in store, each revelation is sufficiently jaw-dropping that it inspires a re-read just to be sure you read that right the first time, until his final words that are just as memorable as his very first.

There is so much more I could say, would say, and have said, but having shed my tears at the conclusion I now leave it to you to experience Out of Oz for yourself. It is an amazing story of love, loss, and discovery, set in a world that is both familiar and brand new at the same time.

Out of Oz is a moving epitaph to those Ozians who have lived and loved and died between the covers of the Wicked Years series. However, though this the “Final Volume” in the series it is by no means an ending. The story of Oz is never really over.

Rating: 5/5

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fianc é and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.