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Dark Oz: Of Courage And Witchcraft Paperback – June 6, 2009
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About the Author
After initially writing novels, Aaron Denenberg became entranced with making films where his audience could share the experience of his storytelling communally. He optioned the rights to the comic book series, Dark Oz, and spent six years shopping it around Hollywood. After all the major studios rejected him, he chose to adapt the screenplay into a novel, returning to his original roots. Aaron has a BFA in motion picture production. He has worked on many films including Kill Bill 1 and 2, The Aviator, Oceans 12 and the Exorcist Prequel.
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Top customer reviews
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It's a fun book!
I did attempt to read Gregory Maguire's Wicked several years ago but couldn't get past the first chapter. I have no desire to see the Broadway show. Geoff Ryman's Was has been on my shortlist for a while, but I still debate on picking it up every time I come across it in bookstores. SciFi's Tin Man couldn't even keep my attention last year although I did sit through the first night of it. And it's been too many years since I saw The Wiz to even remember it, so there's no comparison.Let's not forget Disney's adaptation from 1985, Return to Oz.
Now, just because I said all that doesn't mean I'm old and set in my ways. It doesn't mean I can't appreciate change. I'm mainly mentioning all of these books and shows to prove a point that the story of Dorothy and the Land of Oz has been worn pretty thin over the years with all of the adaptations on the same theme and characters. And I'd be wrong to say that the different adaptations aren't continuously popular again and again probably because Oz is a story we all know and that many love; it's practically become a cult following if you check out some of the forums and blogs out there. Gregory Maguire can thank his fat bank account to all of the readers who loved Wicked and have continued to enjoy his other fairytale adaptations.
Aaron Denenberg's adaptation, Dark Oz, comes with a story in itself dating back to 1993 when Caliber Press released a "dark" comic called Oz which was written and illustrated by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr. Caliber was responsible for the first printing of The Crow. Years later in 2004, Denenberg was working as a film tech and trying to shop a movie around to the agents, but they were asking for "Something new that everyone has heard of!" (Shakespeare was right. There is nothing new under the sun!) Luckily, Denenberg remembered that Oz comic he loved so much. Its creators had left Caliber and republished the comic under their own imprint and renamed it Dark Oz. And Denenberg had kept in contact with them over the years; he called them up to see if the rights to the story were available. And they were!
So Denenberg and the original creators co-wrote the screenplay all while Peter Jackson was cashing in on another story we've all heard of, Lord of the Rings. Denenberg then spent the next 5 years meeting with movie execs but none of them would bite. They loved the concept and said it was a gold mine, but no one was willing to invest in it. Eager to get the new story with its new blood out to the public despite Hollywood's closed doors, Denenberg novelized the project and the book I'm reviewing here was born. And by using CreateSpace no less! And that's why I decided to review Mr. Denenberg's book. I simply love the story of how this book came to be.
I'd never heard of the comic prior to reading Denenberg's review request and had no knowledge of this project, so as a reviewer I decided to bite. At the time, Denenberg was sending out ARCs of the book and it was not yet even available on Amazon. Given the chance to read a book of this magnitude with such history before the general public has access sounded like a lot of fun. And it was!
Book I: Of Courage & Witchcraft is the first in a series of 3. It takes place in a somewhat modern time line although all of the original characters from the Oz you already know are there, along with lots of new ones. Just as in the original film, we have that present day setting. But this time Dorothy is all grown up with a cell phone and piloting a crop duster. But thanks to a terrible storm, her and the plane are thrown back into that fantasy setting we know and love so well where the black and white veil is lifted and everything is in color. However, Oz has fallen under rule of the evil Nome King. He's also turned Dorothy's old friends - the Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow - evil as well.
Dorothy teams up with some rebellions known as the Freedom Fighters who plan to overthrow the king and the reader is soon introduced to all new Oz characters just as Dorothy meets them also for the first time. A dark and intense battle soon breaks out between the animals and we find Dorothy in the middle trying to save her dear friends.
After a bit of research on the original comic, I learned that Denenberg has stayed truer to the original film by using Dorothy in the story. Apparently, she was in a trance in the comic and was not a character than got much focus. New humans from Earth were placed into the story to drive it although readers here will thoroughly enjoy Denenberg's colorful and eccentric Oz inhabitants having read the comic or not. I know I did. Since several months have passed since I first received the book from Denenberg, much more information about the movie has leaked onto the internet. You can find a bit of info at The Royal Blog of Oz and also on Denenberg's MySpace page if you are interested. You can also read the first three chapters on MySpace as well.
Many readers may worry that since this book was born from a script intended for the big screen, the characters may come across flat on the page and the story might be choppy. I couldn't disagree more. The author has taken a great deal of care to ensure that does not happen. The book reads just as good as any other and without prior knowledge, I never would have guessed this book was a script first. Denenberg's story and characters are pretty solid in novel format and I commend him for that effort.
For once, I'm glad to have experienced a book BEFORE seeing the movie. And I'm happy to admit I would watch this movie all the way through if it ever reaches fruition, despite any preconceived notions based on my own Wizard of Oz memories. Congratulations to Aaron Denenberg and best of luck with this project. His passion and enthusiasm for this project definitely breathes life into this "new" story we all know and love too well!