In an Oz where magic has been outlawed, a group of teens seeks to practice their talents freely.
Zerie has superspeed, Vashti can levitate things, and Tabitha can make herself disappear. Later, they discover that Brink, that cute Ned Springer’s dorky little brother, can cast illusions. They practice in secret, as discovery would lead to submersion in the Water of Oblivion, Ozma’s penalty for the illegal use of magic. When the Winged Monkeys apprehend Tabitha to take her to Ozma, Zerie, Vashti and Brink head to Glinda’s palace with the fitful guidance of the Glass Cat in the hope that she will take their side. Burns’ foray into the Oz mythos is an uneasy blend of Baum canon and vapid teen series fiction. Burns’ introduction of a pair of sweethearts, one a Flutterbudget and the other a Rigmarole, is a real treat, and her sense of geography is as goofily arbitrary as Baum’s. But her protagonists are 16, somewhat older than Baum’s Dorothy, and one tiresome subplot involves Zerie and Vashti’s mutual crush on Ned; the question of who “likes” whom is plumbed so often the book begins to feel like a middle school cafeteria. The plot itself—teens fighting for self-actualization in the face of Ozma’s tyranny—rings inherently false, with insufficient back story to justify it.
Only for readers who want to follow the Yellow Brick Road into Sweet Valley High. (Fantasy. 10-14)