Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is only one of the short stories in the Oz Reimagined anthology, but it was released as a standalone short story on ebook. I wish more anthologies would do this. I've read far too many anthologies I wish I'd just picked through for the reasons I bought the anthology lately. And, in this case, I don't think I'm enough of a fan of the Oz books to justify picking up the whole thing.
"Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust" posits an Oz beset by humans from our world, who crossed over the Deadly Desert and are now relegated to their very own Emerald City ghetto. Dorothy is all grown up, and is tasked with keeping humans in line, but they resent her for her status and for beating a path to a land that's less than magical to them. The story is a very short murder mystery. A body is found in the human sector of town, only it's clearly a plant to stir anti-human sentiment.
If you hold the Oz books as sacred or purely innocent, you're unlikely to enjoy this story. This takes a lot of the magic out of the world. Ozma is controlling and petty, and Dorothy is far more cynical than the young girl who was once horrified to accidentally kill two witches. Sand from the Deadly Desert is a drug, called Dust, that's potent and often lethal.
The alterations aren't without precedent. Considering what happens to wilderness not under federal protection, it's not a stretch to suggest that large numbers of human immigrants into a magical land may have a negative effect. And Dorothy couldn't possibly remain an innocent little girl forever. I'm not familiar with Ozma's role in the books, but power has, historically, gone to people's heads, and it sounds like Ozma has a lot of it.
If you're looking for a nostalgic stroll through the books you loved as a child, you may want to skip this. But if you're looking for a creative take on what may have been, I'd recommend giving this story a shot. It's a quick read, compellingly written, and easy for even those of us not as familiar with the Oz books to follow.
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