Book Review: The Emerald City by J.A. Beard

Wow. Just wow. I absolutely fell in love with this book. The Wizard of Oz stories are some of my favorite books, from the original books to the Wicked series, I absolutely adore it. This book is among those favorites. J.A. Beard has created a fantastic world using the Wizard of Oz as a leaping off point, and I readily give this book five stars and am proud to add it to my favorites. Some people have tried to recreate stories that have been around for ages, and some succeed, while others tend to fall terribly, terribly short; this book is a success in my opinion. I’d received a copy directly from the author to read and review, this is the first I’ve done like this and, I am quite glad I did.

The Emerald City takes place at the glamorous Osland Academy in Seattle, and our heroine, Gail, was shipped off their by her Aunt and Uncle (who have little or no problem paying the $40,000 tuition), however, there is something unique about Osland Academy, the students and just the atmosphere in general – especially considering that no matter how hard she tries, Gail cannot curse or utter a single bad word no matter how angry she might get.

We have the standard cast of characters – but in a unique light. You have Gail, who is our dear little Kansas girl (Dorothy); Lydia, our scatter-brained girl (Scarecrow); Leandra, who truth be told is pretty much afraid of everything (Cowardly Lion); Nick, the cute-senior boy who lacks a heart (Tin Man). The Witches represented in this story are essentially the teachers – you have the good and the bad of course. Miss West is of course the root of all evil in our story, because she was the evil one in the original Wizard of Oz. Nigashi is essentially the wicked witch of the east, though she doesn’t die from a house landing on her, she does die however. We also have the winged monkeys, in the form of the Student Council members led by Diana, a senator’s daughter; and they call themselves the Winged.

The story flows easily enough, with only a few hang ups where there is the occasional word missing in a sentence or something of that nature. Beyond that, I honestly, only put this book down to sleep and go see Hunger Games last night. It took me a little less than a day to read. The action is quick and the few battle sequences are filled with awesome. I love the concept of the Rift Watchers and their essences that they control – and the depth of the plan that was hatched and Gail ultimately had to uncover was truly interesting in its creation. I also loved the inclusion of the Fremont Troll in Seattle (The Emerald City) as a tie in for the location of Principal Osland.

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