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The Good Witch of the South

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An action-packed middle-grade fantasy novel set in Oz and featuring a bold teenage witch.

Children's author T. C. Bartlett's middle-grade debut novel had its inception in an image he painted of a fairy. As he put the finishing touches on the image, he was struck with the idea that he had painted the daughter of Glinda the Good, the beautiful and goodhearted witch from L. Frank Baum's Oz stories, who is Queen of the Quadlings. From this kernel of an idea, he developed the story of Samantha Goodwitch, a sixteen-year-old witch-fairy, Glinda's younger daughter. 


Like any teen, Samantha (or Sam as she prefers to be called) is keen to be treated as an adult. She's a bit prone to working around her mother's wishes, like the one where she is to stay home and guard the castle. Rumors of dark forces rising beyond the borders of Quadling Country abound. Stories of beloved members of Oz, like the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion having fallen victim to evil are worrisome, as is the disappearance of Sam's father, Lucius. Queen Glinda plans to visit Rumpart, King of the Winkies, to see if rumors of wickedness creeping out of Winkie Country are true. Sam uses her time alone wisely- in the library. Drawn to a book of the history of Quadling Country, she comes across a note from Ozma, the Princess of Oz, and learns that magic using pieces of dragons' teeth can create a race of giant dragon warriors that serve the person sowing the teeth. Of course, you know it's only a matter of time until Sam goes off looking for dragons! With Akasha, a Shadow Cat princess, and Thorn, a sturdy Munchkin as her companions, can Sam save Oz?


This is an engaging read for older children who love Ozian stories. While it extensively echoes some aspects of The Wizard of Oz (especially so when it comes to the new Wicked Witch of the West and her taunts), it offers a less nuanced depiction of good and evil than stories like Gregory Maguire's Wicked. I did sometimes wish that it was... more magical. Sam is a straightforward, goodhearted girl who wants to be a hero. Some of the secondary characters in the story, like Elle, their mother Glinda, and father Lucius, aren't fully dimensional. But for a middle-grade novel, this book is a fun, action-filled read. The epilogue leaves things wide open for a sequel.


3.5 stars

Reviewed by

I am a half-Latina reviewer who supports a balanced #ownvoices movement. An avid reader since childhood, I'm also a devoted cat vassal and a serious gardener. My youngest child is dyslexic and I'm a big supporter of audiobooks, which changed his life and turned him into an avid reader.

Prologue

About the author

Hidden deep in the woods of Brown County, Indiana, T. C. Bartlett writes and draws his delightful and heartfelt books. view profile

Published on October 30, 2020

120000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Fantasy

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