Within Stories Vol. 2, Paige rounds out her collection of short stories connected to the Dorothy Must Die trilogy. Readers get the chance to discover what happened to Dorothy's companions--the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion after her departure from Oz and before her fateful return that will send the kingdom spiraling into wickedness.
Back in 2015, I reviewed "Heart of Tin" which is the Tin Man's story of unrequited love and the desperation and loneliness which Glinda uses to manipulate him for her own purposes. I really enjoyed this story even though it has a bit of a creepy, stalker vibe.
Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
In "The Straw King," Scarecrow is so focused on reading to learn what it takes to make a great ruler that he's taken by surprise when a usurper to the throne attacks the Emerald City, killing innocents and forcing Scarecrow and Lion to flee. Eventually they rally a pitiful attempt to reclaim control; however, it is only when Glinda conveniently appears with Ozma (the true princess of Oz) that the usurper is defeated. Glinda believes she can manipulate the young girl as she's done with so many others but Ozma is strong willed and a capable ruler, essentially shutting out Glinda and ignoring Scarecrow as adviser. This was my least favorite story of the three. I wanted to see more of how Scarecrow became the twisted scientist. I did like Lion's advice that there is more to ruling than reading how to do it well. Sometimes living is about the experience.
Final rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Glinda continues her rise to power and treachery in "Rule of Beasts." No longer cowardly, Lion is King of the Beasts but very bored. He longs for a sense of purpose or adventure. Knowing this, Glinda arrives with a mission and also enchants Lion to do her bidding. He needs to journey to the Emerald City to find an important items since she and Ozma are on the outs. This was my favorite story of the three because of the introduction of additional characters from Baum's Oz books. I thought the Gnome King was deliciously evil and well portrayed and we finally got the Wheelers! My favorite part of the film Return to Oz has always been the 'guessing game' at the end and liked how Paige incorporated this into the end of the story. There is a great smack down between Ozma and Glinda with the outcome shedding some important light on just how the events of the series unfold with Dorothy's return and her wicked demise.
Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall rating: 4 out of stars
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