For those people new to the story, this is not the Oz we grew up with. It is much grittier and features some truly dark characters. There are gruesome deaths (usually at Amy's hand) and some scary moments that are not for the faint of heart. This creates an action-packed plot that is near impossible to put down (even when it is past midnight and you know that your 3 month old will be waking in a few hours!)
In this second book in the series, Danielle Paige has expanded to cast of characters and moved beyond those we may be familiar with. We meet LuLu, the monkey queen with a past close to the crown, Bright, a beautiful but cowardly young man and Polychrome, the rainbow fairy who appears to have a great deal more going on beneath the surface. Of course our old favorites reappear and we get to see a developing relationship between Amy and Nox. Amy experiences a great deal of growth within this novel as she learns more and more about the magic of Oz and balances the line between good and wicked. She is not your simpering, goody-two shoes character who whines about her lot in life and she never hesitates to do the dirty work - even when that involves beheadings!
We follow Amy and Ozma through several new, enchanting lands and get a glimpse of what Oz could have been without the influence of Dorothy and Glinda. These worlds are truly magical and I only wish the book had been longer so that we could spend more time in these incredible places. We also get to see a twisted, macabre version of the Emerald City and discover that the liberation of Oz has become even more complicated than we had previously thought. In the end, we are left on a cliffhanger that had me thinking about the book all night long and pining for the release of the next in the series (2017? Say it ain't so?!)
If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. And while you are at it, grab the novellas as well. They add an interesting dimension to the story and allow you to immerse yourself in Oz just that little bit longer.